Nevada voters reject eminent domain ballot measure

Nevada voters reject eminent domain ballot measure

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[JURIST] Nevada voters rejected [official results] a ballot measure Tuesday to amend the state constitution [text] to repeal and amend provisions relating to the government’s use of eminent domain to acquire private property. The amendment [summary, PDF] sought to define five exceptions to a general prohibition against exercising eminent domain to transfer property from one private party to another. In addition, the amendment defined “fair market value” and “just compensation” and shielded parties involved in eminent domain proceedings from being held liable for the other party’s attorney’s fees.

The measure would have repealed section 22, know as the People’s Initiative to Stop the Taking of Our Land (PISTOL), which passed in 2006 and 2008 [JURIST reports] with 60 percent of the votes and remains a popular initiative [KOLO report]. Advocates of the measure claimed that, while well-intentioned, PISTOL contained several flaws that wasted taxpayer money on unnecessary lawsuits and interfered with efforts to maintain infrastructure including schools, roads, water supply and sewage systems. Advocates also noted that the changes were supported by government, private businesses, the public and even the original sponsors of PISTOL. Prominent Las Vegas eminent domain lawyer and PISTOL drafter, Kermitt Waters, indicated that all the core elements of PISTOL remain [Las Vegas Sun report]. Critics of the ballot measure claimed it would weaken the protections contained in PISTOL, expanding the government’s power to use eminent domain.