State Senator Lois Kolkhorst’s eminent domain bill has passed through the Senate’s State Affairs Committee, but not without some changes.

Senate Bill 421 was amended before the committee’s 8-0 vote on Monday. The amended bill must past the full Senate, which could vote on the committee substitute later this week.

Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) announces the filing of SB 421 with members of property rights groups and of the Texas House of Representatives.
(courtesy Office of Lois Kolkhorst)

Kolkhorst said upon her filing of the bill in January that this legislation would create a much more transparent and fair eminent domain process. Supporters say the amended bill should still provide that.

According to Marissa Patton, Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Associate Legislative Director, the amended bill still gives more transparency and protections in the state’s eminent domain process. She said it addresses standard protections through easement terms, which she called a “requirement” for meetings and negotiations with property owners.

Patton added this legislation gives property owners more information about their rights, and how fair compensation is determined. She said the easement terms help protect the use of a landowner’s property by a private entity.

Patton said the amended bill features compromises reached by landowner groups and property takers during negotiations.

TFB is one of numerous agricultural and landowner groups calling for eminent domain reform in this legislative session. Patton said roughly 95 percent of Texas is privately-owned, and landowners deserve “fairness, accountability, and transparency” if their land is taken through eminent domain.

A companion bill, House Bill 991 from Rep. DeWayne Burns, was referred to the House Land and Resource Management Committee.

The committee substitute for Kolkhorst's bill, CSSB 421, can be viewed here.

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  1. It is a step in the right direction and I applaud Sen. Kolkhorst. Pipelines will still be built – this bill just seeks to bring some fairness to landowners. How would you like to have a pipeline placed in your backyard that will move crude oil, natural gas or hazardous liquids to sell globally? It’s coming, in just 18 months or less! The U.S. is about to become a major exporter to the world. How can the laws of eminent domain be used by pipeline companies who will profit in the billions of dollars from product moved through pipelines and sold to the world. That is not why the power of eminent domain was delegated from government to for profit companies. Eminent domain is used to threaten\d landowners to taking a settlement for damages in lieu of an arms length negotiation. No one is talking about this new development and should be!. The least our legislative representatives can do is pass this bill and least try to make it more fair. Something is wrong when a law is used to profit shareholders and not for the good of U.S. citizens.

  2. Key words here are SHOULD and IF. The devil is in the details. Still losing their land to eminent domain, but with more information about how it will be done. Thanks to the senator for thinking about the little guy.

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