Governor Bob McDonnell ceremonially signed four pieces of legislation to protect the property rights of Virginia citizens. HB5 (R. Bell) and its companion SB240 (Obenshain) provide for a referendum for a constitutional amendment to protect private property rights on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot. HB1035 (Joannou) and SB437 (Obenshain) provide clear definitions for the terms "lost profits" and "lost access" and how to determine the amount of just compensation.
Question 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot will read: "Shall Section 11 of Article I (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to require that eminent domain powers only be exercised for public uses and not for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue or economic development; and amended to define what is to be included in determining just compensation for permissible takings and to prevent the taking of more private property than is necessary for the state public use?"
Voters will be asked to choose "Yes" or "No."
Speaking about the legislation signed today, Governor McDonnell said, "This legislation is an important step toward including necessary private property protections in Virginia's constitution. Protecting the liberty and property of its citizens is a fundamental role of government, and this constitutional amendment makes those protections stronger in Virginia. The amendment that will be before Virginia voters this Nov. 6, sets clear boundaries on the ability of government to seize their property and will help ensure that when property is taken for a true public use, that the property owner will be fully compensated. I encourage our citizens to make their voices heard this November and support this important constitutional protection."
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who helped to write the amendment, said, "It has been seven long years of effort, but with the passage of the property rights amendment, our citizens are one step closer to enshrining in the Constitution of Virginia the protections they deserve from overzealous governments and the developers who use them to take away Virginians' homes, farms, and small businesses. We have fought every year since the 2005 Kelo decision to strengthen property rights in the Commonwealth through various bills and three attempts at a constitutional amendment. A property rights amendment to Virginia's constitution is the ultimate protection. Virginians need, and voters will finally have, a property rights amendment to vote on in the November ballot."
"Our members are excited about the opportunity that this constitutional amendment will provide," said Wayne Pryor, president of the Virginia Farm Bureau, which advocated for the constitutional amendment. "No longer will our farms, homes or businesses be taken and given to another private property owner under Kelo-type eminent domain abuses."
Bills Signed Today
HB5 (R. Bell)/SB240 (Obenshain) Eminent Domain Voter Referendum
Provides for a referendum at the Nov. 6, 2012, election to approve or reject an amendment that revises the prohibition on the enactment by the General Assembly of laws whereby private property may be taken or damaged without just compensation
The constitutional amendment
Requires that eminent domain only be exercised where the property taken or damaged is for public use and, except for utilities or the elimination of a public nuisance
Not where the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development
Defines what is included in just compensation for such taking or damaging of property
And prohibits the taking or damaging of more private property than is necessary for the public use
HB1035 (Joannou)/SB437 (Obenshain) Eminent Domain Define Lost Access and Lost Profits
Provides definitions for the terms "lost profits" and "lost access" and how to determine the amount of just compensation, which includes lost profits and lost access resulting from the taking, that must be paid for property taken by eminent domain
The bill has a contingent effective date of Jan. 1, 2013, provided that the voters approve an amendment to Section 11 of Article I of the Constitution of Virginia at the November 2012 election