STATES MUST LEAD IN PROTECTING PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 29, 2005)
HON. MARK UDALL
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2005
Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, the June 23rd decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Kelo v. New London has raised concern about the potential abuse of the power of eminent domain by local governments.
I share that concern, which is why I voted for the resolution (H. Res. 340) expressing the House's disagreement with that decision.
Congress may consider proposals for even stronger legislative responses. I think that is completely appropriate, and well may support legislation on this subject.
At the same time, however, I think it is important to remember that the primary responsibility in this area rests with the States and their local governments.
As I said during debate on the resolution passed by the House, while (in the words of the resolution) ``Congress maintains the prerogative and reserve the right to address through legislation any abuses of eminent domain by State and local government,'' Congress can only take such action in ways that are themselves consistent with the Constitution.
Further, I think we should be reluctant to take actions to curb what some--perhaps even a temporary majority--in Congress might consider improper actions by a State or local government.
Thy States, through their legislatures or in some cases by direct popular vote, can put limits on the use of eminent domain by their agencies or local governments. I think this would be the best way to address potential abuses, and I think we in Congress should consider taking action to impose our ideas of proper limits only as a last resort.
That point was well made in a recent column by State Senator Lois Tochtrop, with whom I had the honor to serve when I was in the Colorado legislature.
In that column, Senator Tochtrop writes ``There's only one piece of `good news' for Colorado citizens in the recent Supreme Court decision. The high court left it up to state legislatures to control city bureaucrats bent on turning your home or business into a new strip mall. Here in Colorado, legislators have lots to do. . . . I will reintroduce legislation in the upcoming session to stop cities from abusing the power of eminent domain by giving corporate welfare to retailers while the taxpayers pay the bills.''
I commend Senator Tochtrop for her leadership on this important issue. For the information of our colleagues, here is the complete text of her recent column: [From the (Boulder, Colorado) Daily Camera--July 14, 2005], "State Must Protect Property Rights"
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