Wednesday, February 26, 2014

First Battle Won on Eminent Domain; Get Ready for the Next

It's still got to pass the full House, then the Senate, then the governor, and even then it just prevents the company from stealing land from people who oppose the pipeline.

But it's a real victory, and one we've got to build on.
Greg Kocher at the Herald:

In an 11-1 vote Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed a committee substitute for House Bill 31 that prevents natural gas liquids pipelines such as the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline from invoking eminent domain.

The bill clarifies state law so that natural gas liquids — which Bluegrass Pipeline would carry through 13 Kentucky counties — would not be oil or gas products, so private land could not be seized through eminent domain to build its infrastructure. The bill's primary sponsor, Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

One lawmaker who spoke in support of the bill said it wouldn't block the pipeline.

"Any legislation we consider today is not going to kill Bluegrass Pipeline," said Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown. "They just won't be able to use eminent domain to condemn property from people who don't want it to be done."

Tom FitzGerald, a lawyer for the Kentucky Resources Council, said the bill sends a message that Bluegrass Pipeline must treat private landowners fairly.

"This is an issue that resonates all across the political spectrum," FitzGerald said. "People don't like to be pushed around. They don't like somebody saying, 'I want to voluntarily enter into partnership with you, but if you don't grant me what I want, I can take you to court and make you spend thousands of dollars you'll never see again just to vindicate your right to be left alone.'"

Asked about the bill's chances for passage in the full House and Senate, FitzGerald said it's easier to kill a bill than to pass one.

But he added: "We have felt across the board that legislators are keenly aware and keenly concerned that landowners need to be dealt with in a fair manner without this cloud of eminent domain hanging over their heads."
 Lots of work still ahead, so keep calling the Legislative Message Line1-800-372-7181 to tell your legislators and the leadership of both chambers to support House Bill 31 and Senate Bill 14. Call every day, and get your family, your friends, your coworkers and your neighbors to call, too. The company is pouring millions of dollars into its campaign of lies and intimidation; all we have is ourselves.  Call!

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