by Timothy Sandefur
The Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters has an important column on the latest rule-bending by Sacramento politicians who want to stop any real reform of eminent domain in the state. It's worth reading in its entirety. Here's an excerpt:
Two Senate committees met back-to-back in the same room and approved a bill that's part of a drive by local governments to change eminent domain rules just enough to stave off a more far-reaching overhaul by property rights groups.
The measure, Assembly Bill 887, had been defeated in the Senate Local Government Committee on Wednesday as Sen. Mike Machado, D-Linden, joined Republicans in opposition. But after some parliamentary maneuvers, the committee reconvened on Thursday and Machado switched sides, sending the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which met minutes later and approved it. Machado said he had been given assurances that some provisions would be altered.
Republicans fumed that procedural rules were bent or broken to give the bill a second chance in Local Government. "It is not proper for the committee to hear the bill," Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, complained, adding, "The public has been completely eliminated from participation…."
Advocates of [genuine eminent domain reform] are back with a new proposal that doesn't include the regulatory takings language, at least not directly, and local officials are clearly concerned that it could pass, thus putting a crimp in their commercial redevelopment plans. They have, therefore, written their alternative measure that protects residential property from seizure and the De La Torre bill to provide additional protections to commercial property, though it stops short of prohibiting seizure….