Virginia Agribusiness Council

Property Rights In The Balance Friday Morning In House Of Delegates!

With housekeeping measures and session-opening pomp behind them, Virginia’s lawmakers now are at full pace in the "short session" of the General Assembly and there is no time to lose on a paramount issue that affects our freedoms — the protection of private property. On Friday morning, the House Privileges and Elections Committee (click here for members and contact links) will consider a constitutional amendment that will safeguard your property rights from state and local government and corporations, as well as ensure just compensation in circumstances when land must be taken for legitimate public uses. Earlier this week, a "P&E" sub-committee barely reported out, on a 3-2 vote (see vote), HJ 647, patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville). Now it goes to the full committee with local government interests, who use your tax dollars to lobby against your rights, and large utilities and telecoms working behind the scenes with every resource at their disposal to strengthen their hand when they want your property. No less than 10 government and corporations testified against the resolution in sub-committee, while The Family Foundation, The Farm Bureau and the Virginia Agribusiness Council speaking in favor. (A similar version in the Senate yesterday was carried over for a week.)

Without property rights, we don’t have secure homes. Without property rights, we don’t have the security to practice our faith. Without property rights, we have no economic security. The fact is, ever since the deplorable Kelo decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, local and state governments have had eyes bigger than their stomachs for homes, farms and small businesses to feed their economic development schemes. They’ve taken private property and turned it over to developers and corporations for malls and office parks, or for transportation boondoggles. In one heinous case in Hampton, the city took private property for a pittance, and then sold it to a developer for millions while the original owner saw none of the extra money.

At one time, Virginia was a leader in protecting property rights and our Founders, such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, ensured these rights in the Commonwealth’s constitution. However, in the last constitutional revision in the early 1970s, they were diminished. But now, with a reawakening of Founding Principles across Virginia and the nation, there is real momentum this year for true reform.

While Big Government and Big Corporations have much money, we have many voices — and they matter! They are a force equalizer. Please contact members of the committee and express your desire to see Virginia protect families’ homes, farms and businesses!

Virginia Senate Trounces Your Constitutional Private Property Rights, Empowers Government At Your Expense!

Just a couple of hours ago, the Senate Finance Committee (see vote) trounced on your constitutional rights to just compensation in eminent domain cases. Actually, it's worse than that. It trounced on your rights simply to present evidence to juries in eminent domain cases! The following is the news release, just issued, by the patron of HB 652, Delegate Ward Armstrong (D-10, Martinsville):

Senate Committee Kills Bill to Protect Landowners

~Armstrong vows to continue to fight for average citizens~

After passing the House with a 98-1 vote, Delegate Ward Armstrong’s “Landowner’s Rights Bill” (HB652) was killed in a Senate Finance Committee on a 10-3 vote Wednesday morning. Senators Reynolds, Watkins, and Hanger were the only members voting in favor of the legislation.

HB652 would have provided that any restriction, change, or loss of access to or from property taken under the power of eminent domain to be considered as an element in assessing damages for the purposes of determining just compensation.

"I’m very disappointed that the committee chose to side with government instead of the average citizen," said Armstrong. "The worst thing that a government can do to someone is deprive them of their liberty; the second worst thing is to deprive them of their property without just compensation. I intend to introduce the measure again next year."

The bill was supported by a variety of groups including: The VA Farm Bureau, National Federation of Independent Businesses, The VA Agribusiness Council, and The Family Foundation.