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Stronger Private Property Rights Highlight 82nd Legislative Session

For Immediate Release: May 31, 2011

Contact: Carmen Fenton, 512-469-0171

FORT WORTH, Texas – “The 82nd Legislative Session was a successful session for private property rights,” said Joe Parker Jr., rancher and president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA).

“There is nothing more sacred to Texas landowners than their private property rights,” said Parker. “Thanks to our Legislature and statewide leaders, those rights are now better protected.”

Although legislators have been called back to Austin for a special session addressing some remaining issues, several key pieces of legislation, including SB 18 and SB 332, were passed during the regular session which will strengthen private property rights for Texas landowners.

“TSCRA and other landowner associations have worked long and hard to strengthen private property rights in Texas, especially reforming eminent domain laws and reinforcing groundwater ownership rights,” Parker said. “TSCRA’s hard work has paid off, and while there will always be more work to do, Texas landowners have stronger private property rights after this legislative session,” Parker said.

SB 18, also known as the eminent domain reform bill, was signed into law by Gov. Perry on May 23. SB 18 requires a public and record vote to initiate eminent domain proceedings. It also requires condemning entities to make a bona fide offer in writing, and if they fail to do this, it requires the entity to pay the landowner’s expenses and attorney fees.

SB 18 also levels the playing field by requiring that a condemning entity compensate landowners for damages from a loss of access to their property as well as provides relocation assistance if a landowner is moved off of their property due to the eminent domain process. It goes further to give landowners the right to repurchase their condemned land at the original price if it is not used for the intended public use within 10 years. Additionally, SB 18 makes it clear that land condemned using eminent domain may only be used for public use.

SB 332, the groundwater ownership bill, clarifies that landowners own the groundwater below their land as real property. SB 332 protects the rule of capture and entitles landowners to drill for and produce the groundwater below their land without waste. The bill recognizes that groundwater can continue to be conserved while ensuring fair and impartial regulation of landowners’ ownership rights.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is a 134-year-old trade organization. As the largest and oldest livestock association in Texas, TSCRA represents more than 15,000 beef cattle producers, ranching families and businesses who manage approximately 4 million head of cattle on 51.5 million acres of range and pasture land, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma. TSCRA provides law enforcement and livestock inspection services, legislative and regulatory advocacy, industry news and information, insurance services and educational opportunities for its members and the industry.

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