Editorial

14 June 2021

Capitol Update: Reforming Eminent Domain

On June 14th, 244 years ago, the Second Continental Congress met under the leadership of John Hancock in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Outside of those walls, citizens from what used to be 13 individual colonies fought as one against the oppressive British Crown. That day, the delegates adopted a design for the original American Flag for soldiers and citizens to rally behind on their quest for total independence. Still today we celebrate June 14th as Flag Day in America, and I hope you’ll proudly display the stars and stripes in honor of all who have fought so bravely for our freedom.

With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol…

Capitol Update

This week we’ll continue our series on noteworthy pieces of legislation from the most recent session by taking a closer look at House Bill 2730. This measure, which passed both chambers and will soon become law, reforms the process by which entities can acquire land through eminent domain in Texas. The bill that ultimately passed represents a compromise aimed at ensuring a more level playing field for landowners, while still allowing for construction of critical infrastructure in our growing state.

Specifically, House Bill 2730 will provide more transparency when a condemning entity makes the initial offer to a landowner.  The measure expands the Landowner Bill of Rights to include the right to file a complaint against a registered easement or right-of-way agent. It requires the condemning entity to convey easement terms at the first meeting between the parties, and speeds up any conflict resolution by prescribing a timeline for special commissioner courts to follow. Importantly, this legislation requires guarantee agents, sent on behalf of condemners, to take coursework ensuring they are knowledgeable about the process and ethical when dealing with landowners.

Still though, more can be done to provide property owners with transparency, accountability, and fairness in the eminent domain process. As a proud landowner, I understand and share the concerns of many private property owners who have reached out with concerns about private companies demanding land without proper notice at an unfair price. As such, I have and will continue to battle in Austin to protect groundwater rights, improve landowner protections under eminent domain, and ensure farmers and ranchers are rightfully compensated for any property under threat of condemnation.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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