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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