On the Virginia ballot this November 6th is AG-wannabe Rob Bell’s pet project and lynch-pin of his candidacy – a constitutional amendment to limit eminent domain. Bell, along with other wannabes like Corey Stewart, tout the amendment as as a vital protection for small property owners.
Bell also reminds you to always wear your tinfoil hat to keep the government from probing your mind.
First of all, there’s this thing called the Fifth Amendment that
requires governments (local, state or national) to fairly compensate
property owners for the property taken by the government, regardless of
the purpose. Second, there’s already a Virginia statute, also Bell’s
brainchild, that does essentially the same thing as the state amendment
would. As such, the constitutional amendment does virtually nothing
for property rights – but it does give Bell a bullet point for his
campaign mailers. In other words, it’s nothing more than pure politics.
Frankly, both the statute and the amendment are misguided. Local
governments must be allowed to use the full tool box, including the
ability to partner with private enterprise, to rehab inner cities
through economic development programs. Regardless of how those programs
are executed, keep in in mind, property owners are always
going to be compensated for their property at market value. The
measures advanced by Bell simply allow slumlords to extort those
municipalities and obtain prices in excess of fair market, thereby
giving them the ability to derail broader economic development plans.
Bad idea. Bad politics.