There is rapid population growth and a surge in economic activity happening in Texas. Meaning, oil, gas and water pipelines, power-lines and new roads are becoming a prominent need. The government and pipeline companies are relying on eminent domain in order to keep up with the growth.

Eminent domain gives the government and other entities, the power to seize private land for public use. The goal of eminent domain is to fulfill public needs at private landowners’ expense. But, eminent domain compromises with property owners by providing them compensation for their land.

Senate shuts down eminent domain reform bill

During the legislative session, the eminent domain reform bill failed to pass for the third time. The proposed bill was revised by the House Committee, causing initial supporters to reject the updated version of the bill.

The original purpose of Senate Bill 421 was to protect landowners by providing transparency through public meetings held by the company requesting land acquisition. By the time it passed through the House, supporters had argued that too many stipulations were added to the bill, making the eminent domain processes just as complicated—if not more complicated—for the landowners, as it was before.

The process

When a company wants to purchase private property for public use, they send a proposal to the overseeing government entity. Once the government approves the land acquisition through eminent domain, the company offers the landowner compensation.

If the property owner does not agree to the offer, the company will file a lawsuit. Once the lawsuit is filed, the landowner usually concedes. Often, the landowner does not have the means to fight the condemning authorities.

According to the Texas Constitution, land owners should be fairly compensated for the state’s acquisition of private land. But, land owners don’t feel as though they are being fairly compensated.

Most property owners understand the importance of eminent domain and try to accommodate the government or privately-owned agency but feel as though they are not treated justly. Landowners claim that they would like more transparency. They want to know the true value of their land and be compensated accordingly.