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Eminent Domain Laws in Other States
Buy the Farm Bill - Minnesota
In an earlier post, we talked about public utility eminent domain laws in Maine:
At the Freedom town meeting, Senator Chip Curry stated that he didn’t know the route for the transmission line when he voted in favor of the bill. This seems to be a common statement from the Senators and Representatives who voted for the bill - “we didn’t know”. While they may think this absolves them from all responsibility, we think it illustrates their irresponsible behavior - our elected officials are passing laws they do not understand.
Senator Curry stated that he was planning to submit a new bill when the next legislative session begins in January - An Act to Protect Property Owners from Eminent Domain in Aroostook Gateway Project. The sucess of the passage of that bill will depend on how it’s written.
There are a few other states who have modified their eminent domain laws that we should look to for examples. One is the Buy the Farm bill in Minnesota, passed in 1977. This bill allows property owners to force utility companies to buy an entire piece of property, not just the easements necessary for the high-voltage transmission lines. Landowners can choose to move to a new property rather than living under high voltage tranmission lines. In recent years, Minnesota modified their eminent domain law, requiring utility companies to not only pay for the land, but also to pay for relocation costs and set a minimum compensation benefits, allows for landowners to be compensated for legal costs, and imposes a deadline for the process. (You can read more here: https://www.ruralmn.org/rmj/2014-vol-9/capx2020-and-buy-the-farm/#:~:text=The%20Legislature%20responded%20in%201977,public%20involvement%20in%20the%20process.)
Iowa has taken a different approach and requires 75% of land owners to voluntarily grant easements along a route before a utility can request eminent domain use.
We’ll be watching to see if Senator Curry follows through with his promise to tighten eminent domain laws and save our land, and we expect members of our group to be invited to participate in the process.
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