Missouri Enacts Meaningless Eminent Domain Reform


by Timothy Sandefur

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt signed HB 1944 yesterday. Even the normally cheery Castle Coalition has a hard time being upbeat about this one. The bill makes virtually no difference to the abuse of eminent domain in Missouri, as I explain in my paper "The 'Backlash' So Far":

H.B. 1944…does say that 'no condemning authority shall acquire private property through the process of eminent domain for solely economic development purposes,' but it goes on to define 'economic development purposes' in language which still allows the government to condemn property when bureaucrats declare it blighted….

Most importantly, Missouri's Constitution has a provision specifically allowing eminent domain for economic redevelopment, or urban renewal, or whatever you choose to call it. H.B. 1944 does nothing to change this, of course, meaning that it is poor protection for property rights, indeed.