Republicans in the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate joined today in unveiling their proposed constitutional amendment that would stop the state from seizing private property for all but public uses - such as roads, parks and schools.
"The founders of our nation understood the need to protect private property from government seizure," said Senate Minority Leader Lowell Stoltzfus (Dist. 38 Somerset, Wicomico & Worcester).
The amendment would define "public use" as ownership by a governmental entity or physical use or access by the general public. It would not include use for economic development purposes such as creating jobs, generating tax revenues, attracting new business activity or encouraging the expansion and retention of existing business activity.
The Supreme Court's Kelo decision this summer gave states expanded eminent domain authority unless a state passes restrictions such as those contained in the constitutional amendment proposed today. The Court cited Maryland case law in their opinion.
"Unfortunately these cases actually encourage the replacement of lower-income homeowners and businesses with affluent homeowners and upscale businesses," stated Sen. Allan Kittleman (Dist. 9 Howard & Carroll).
"This constitutional amendment was made necessary because of the expansion of eminent domain authority over the years by an increasingly liberal legislature and activist courts. This ultimately lead to the Senate Bill 509 debacle in Baltimore County five years ago," noted House Minority Whip Tony O'Donnell (Dist. 29C St. Mary's & Calvert). Republicans took a stand against SB 509 in 2000.
House Minority Leader George Edwards (Dist.1A Allegany & Garrett) emphasized, "The Maryland Constitution must protect the property rights of ALL Marylanders, including homeowners, farms, and small businesses. Be it ever so humble, it's still my home."