Out of Control Policy Blog

Michigan Voters to Decide Constitutional Amendment Restricting Eminent Domain

Some good news from Michigan...next year, state voters will get the chance to approve a constitutional amendment restricting the exercise of eminent domain by state and local governments:

    The Michigan Legislature today approved Senate Joint Resolution E, a proposed state constitutional amendment that would restrict state and municipal governments' ability to use eminent domain to seize private property. The resolution was originally introduced in the Michigan Senate on Aug. 31, in the wake of citizen outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London. The resolution's approval by the Legislature means the proposal will be placed before the state's voters in 2006.

    "The proposed amendment would significantly strengthen private property rights in Michigan," said Patrick J. Wright, a senior legal analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a nonprofit research and educational organization based in Midland, Mich. "If approved by Michigan voters, this amendment will place the burden of proof on the government to show that a taking is for a genuine public use, specifically excluding the transfer of property to private individuals or businesses for purposes of 'economic development' or 'enhancement of tax revenues.' The amendment will also require that when government officials base a taking on 'blight,' they provide clear and convincing proof of blight on a property-by-property basis, thereby preventing them from casually condemning entire neighborhoods. Under this language, Michigan property owners will not be punished for the blighted property of their neighbors."

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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