Rep. Mike Schofield

Late last week Rep. Mike Schofield (R-Katy) filed two proposed constitutional amendments that would place additional limitations on the exercise of the power of eminent domain. HJR 92 mandates a governmental entity that acquires property by eminent domain to offer to sell it back to the original owner, or that person’s heirs or assigns, if certain conditions are not met, including the lack of “actual progress” on the project. Article III, § 52j, Texas Constitution, currently authorizes a governmental entity to offer the property for repurchase the property but does not require it. The enabling legislation, HB 1879, requires a higher threshold for actual progress, making it easier for the property owner to repurchase the property after 10 years. The other proposal, HJR 93, would amend Article I, § 17(b), to narrow the definition of “public use” by excluding the taking of private property for transfer to a private entity. The current provision bans takings for transfer to a private entity for the primary purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenues. HJR 93 eliminates these qualifiers.

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