Unconstitutionally Expands Eminent Domain Powers?Government Would be Allowed to Intrude-upon, Dig, and Seize Property
Providence, RI –– A House bill that would dramatically expand the State’s eminent domain powers was delayed for at least one day, after the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity raised concerns just prior to yesterday’s scheduled House Committee on Finance vote.
The Center, long known as an avid defender of private property rights, categorized this bill as RhodeMapRI-style legislation that places some vague and arbitrary notion of economic development above the constitutional rights of property owners.
Derived directly from the 2018 legislative language to keep the Pawtucket Red Sox in Pawtucket, the current legislation targets property owners and would give the city of Pawtucket and governments across the state unprecedented access to intrude upon, test, and ultimately seize private property. Other provisions of the bill deny due process and would even force property owners to be evicted or pay penalties and attorneys fees to defend and keep their land.
Yesterday’s vote on H6153 was delayed with the official status, “Proposed Substitute”, but is expected to be re-considered as soon as today. The Senate version of the bill, S0673, was passed by the Senate Finance Committee on June 18.
The two pieces of legislation, with both lead sponsors from Pawtucket, Representative Tobon and Senator Cano, were also co-sponsored primarily by Pawtucket Reps and Senators.
“Everyone wants to see the city of Pawtucket succeed, but infringing on private property rights is not the way to go. If enacted, this legislation would constitute the largest expansion of the government’s eminent domain powers in Rhode Island history,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Perhaps unconstitutionally, it would expand the powers of redevelopment agencies to take private property for private economic development purposes instead of for “public” purposes or helping to remediate blighted and substandard areas.”