The N.C. House voted 104-9 to approve a ballot question for a constitutional amendment limiting the power of eminent domain. The amendment would ban eminent domain in cases where government seizes property only to sell it to a private developer, by requiring that all property seized be for “public use.” Those uses could include utility infrastructure, roads and government facilities. The US and many state constitutions have similar requirements. The amendment would also give property owners who sue over eminent domain an opportunity to have a jury – instead of a judge – determine how much money they’re owed for the property.
The bill is another attempt in N.C. to address the US Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo decision. The bill’s sponsor stated, “The Supreme Court said that the states were free to restrict eminent domain more than that, and that’s precisely what we’re doing here.”
The bill now heads to the Senate, and if it passes, the November 2018 election ballot will contain a ballot question seeking the approval of the amendment. An identical bill has already been filed in the Senate and 16 GOP senators have signed on as co-sponsors.