Congressman Lamar Smith Floor Statement On The "Private Property Rights Protection Act Of 2005"
I support the Private Property Rights Protection Act.
Two hundred years ago our founders wrote into the Bill of Rights a guarantee of the right to private property. Such a right lies at the foundation of a democracy where citizens have the freedom to buy, sell, exchange, or make a profit on all forms of property.
In recent years it has become more and more common for the government to seize private property under the guise of eminent domain for "public" use. It is something that landowners in my homestate of Texas are already frequently faced with under the Endangered Species Act, since the Act prevents a landowner from developing their property if an endangered species is found on the land.
Unfortunately last June, the Supreme Court gave landowners another reason to worry. They decided that state and local governments can take property from a private landowner in order to give or sell it to another private owner.
This 5 to 4 decision in Kelo v. City of New London threatens the legitimate rights of landowners. We must act to protect those rights.
In the months following the Kelo decision several different bills aimed at preventing eminent domain abuses were introduced. The Private Property Rights Protection Act is a fair and sensible combination of those bills.
It prevents states or localities that seize private property in order to transfer it to other private owners, from receiving economic development funding from the federal government for two years.
But the bill is not automatically applied. It gives the state or locality the opportunity to correct any abuse of power by returning all property to the landowner or replacing any property that is damaged. If the state or locality does so, they will still be allowed to obtain federal funding.
The right to private property ownership is one of the cornerstones on which this country was founded. H.R. 4128 will make sure that right is protected.
I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 4128.
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» Congressman Lamar Smith Floor Statement On The "Private Property Rights Protection Act Of 2005"