Mother Jones has an incredibly interesting post about “pay or waive” laws, on ballots in six states. These laws force the government to compensate property owners when regulations drive land values down.
These laws, the magazine points out, stem from anger over Kelo v. New London, the Supreme Court decision that said governments can take people’s property (“eminent domain,” the process typically used to get land for highways and the like) and give it to private developers who pay more taxes. In other words, it said the government can steal from the poor and give to the rich.
The magazine argues that pay-or-waive will “cripple” legitimate uses of eminent domain. Oregon already has the law, and in the past three months $3 billion in claims have been filed.
I don’t see why property owners should suffer from government regulation, but at the same time I can see the potential for abuse here (I wonder how much of Oregon’s $3 billion in claims is legitimate). It’s hard to calculate exactly how much land values went down because of regulation, as opposed to other factors.
I’d be happy with restricting eminent domain to public projects. Legislatures will have to take this up, because the Court probably won’t reconsider the ruling for decades.
Robert VerBruggen blogs at http://robertsrationale.blogspot.com.