Eminent domain – not for privately owned projects – no matter the “public benefit.”

Both the Iowa and U.S. Constitutions allow government to take private property, using the government’s power of eminent domain, when the property taken is for public use, (and just compensation is paid).  Taking property for public benefit is not sufficient.  Many privately owned enterprises benefit the public. If we allow property to be taken for public benefit, there would be almost no limit on the power of government to take people’s property.  Public use means what is says: the property will be used by the public, not by a privately owned company. So, using eminent domain to take property for privately owned gas pipelines or electricity transmission lines is not public use and should not be allowed.  The Iowa Legislature failed to pass legislation that would have strengthened our property rights against taking by eminent domain, but that doesn’t mean regulators (the Iowa Utility Board) can’t stand up for the rights of property owners and not allow the use of eminent domain for privately owned projects.

Link to related Des Moines Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2014/12/07/editorial-must-forfeit-land-utilities/20012449/

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