For Immediate Release
Sept. 16, 2010
Contact: Carmen Fenton
AUSTIN, TEXAS – Members of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) joined Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and other industry leaders today at a rally asking all Texans to sign an online petition asking for stronger eminent domain reform in Texas. Arthur Uhl, TSCRA Legislative and Tax committee chairman and director, made the following statement at the press conference reinstating TSCRA’s commitment to secure stronger protections for private landowners.
“On behalf of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, I would like to thank Commissioner Staples for his continued efforts to help pass true eminent domain reform during the upcoming legislative session.
“For more than 133 years, the mission of TSCRA has been to protect the stewards of land and livestock in the Southwest. Although originally formed to protect against cattle rustling and imported cattle disease, the perils facing today’s rancher and landowner have multiplied. Sometimes these threats come from our own government.
“As landowners, we know that Texas is growing and that our land and water will be needed to accommodate future growth; however, those accommodations should not come solely at the expense of landowners.
“As the largest and oldest livestock association in the state, TSCRA has fought long and hard to reform the eminent domain and condemnation laws in Texas. While our current eminent domain laws may not be universally understood, the prohibition against government taking of land without just compensation is at the heart of our Constitution, and nothing is more important to those making their living off the land. Without eminent domain reform, Texas will lose one of the most sacred rights we have – the right to own property.
“Unfortunately, our current state eminent domain laws, as interpreted by our State Supreme Court, do not require fair treatment of landowners in several important respects, such as fair notice and fair offers to purchase property. Legislative reform is direly needed to inject the fairness which is required by our Constitution.
“Fortunately, we have a great state leader, Agricutlure Commissioner Todd Staples, who has accepted the challenge of fixing this problem so important to Texas landowners. For that, we thank Commisisoner Staples and ask that everyone sign his petition for the cause.”
Texans can sign the petition at www.protectyourhomeandland.com.
TSCRA supports changes to the eminent domain law that do the following:
Require that more clear and advance notice and information be given to the property owner regarding the condemnation and the rights of the property owner.
Require that the condemning authority make a good faith, bona fide offer based on appraised fair market value of the property, share the appraisal with the property owner, and require the condemning authority to negotiate in good faith.
Provide for compensation for ALL losses suffered by the property owner, including all losses caused by loss or diminish of access.
Require the condemning authority to pay the property owner all costs and expenses when the condemning authority misuses the legal process.
Provide that the condemning authority pay all costs and expenses to the property owner when the award by the special commission or the jury is greater than the condemning entity’s offer.
Allow the property owner the option to reacquire the condemned property and all associated property rights, including mineral and groundwater rights, for the price paid by the condemning authority (not current market value) if the original governmental project causing the condemnation does not occur.
The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is a 133-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.