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Texas voters approve amendment limiting eminent domain

[JURIST] An amendment to the Texas Constitution [text] limiting government enforcement of eminent domain was overwhelmingly approved [unofficial results] by voters on Tuesday with more than 80 percent of those polled voting favorably. Proposition 11 [text and materials] prohibits government officials from taking private property and allotting it to private buyers for the purpose of economic development or to increase tax revenues unless the property owner consents. It further limits the government's ability to enforce eminent domain by requiring approval of two-thirds of the bicameral legislature, starting January 1, 2010. Proposition 11 is especially important to farmers in Texas who have suffered at the hands of eminent domain by losing their farmland to private developers. While farmers are glad eminent domain is a prominent issue in the election, the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) [advocacy website] holds that the proposition falls short [press release] of the necessary actions that need to be taken by the government.

An additional provision the TFB proposed to be included in the amendment would have established fair compensation for land taken for government projects. This proposal arose from the threat of eminent domain abuse by projects such as the Trans-Texas Corridor [official website], a superhighway plan championed by the Texas governor, which would have required the acquisition of more than 600,000 acres of farmland for access roads and ramps. While the project was officially phased out [Dallas Morning News report] last week, the state still plans to make major renovations on I-35, which would inevitably effect farmers in Texas.

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