Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Please voice your opinion of this issue, pro or con, by sending emails to your state representatives using this simple form.

Take action right now.


Why does Gov. Rick Perry want to make it easy for a big corporation like ExxonMobil to use eminent domain to force you from your home and your land?

I have no idea. But one thing is clear: If we want to stop this massive land grab and special-interest giveaway, we need to act fast.

State senators have just rammed through one of Gov. Perry's so-called "emergency bills" — to "reform" eminent domain laws — that will open the floodgates for corporations to take private land for their own gain — much to the delight of the oil and gas industry, real estate developers and private toll road investors.

The House is taking up the issue today, and we need to get a thousand e-mails into our representatives' inboxes before the end of the day.

Take action right now.

Here's why I, and many other public interest watchdogs, think this bill is a blatant give-away to special interests:

• Even though Gov. Perry claims this bill will protect property owners, it allows a company like ExxonMobil to buy your property for a song, and simply claim it's for the public good. Meanwhile you'd have to hire lawyers to prove that Exxon doesn't have the right — and the legalese of the bill would make that fight nearly impossible to win.

• The bill leaves critical terms like "public use," "private benefit" and "blighted areas" wide open to arbitrary interpretation, leaving property owners vulnerable to profit-driven land grabs for economic development.

• Even the bill's authors admit its weak and inconsistent language will lead to more expensive lawsuits for Texas' property owners who will end up defending their own interests against the well-connected, well-funded special interests and their powerful attorneys.

• The bill fails to protect property owners from being exploited by private corporations that can buy Texans' land, without their approval, and pay less than the land is worth.

Is there any limit to what the Texas Legislature will give away to special interests?

The governor and his allies want the House to get the job done quickly so the public won't notice their property rights are being sold off to private corporations. We need our representatives to stop this bill in its tracks, and make sure the public is heard.

Please send a message right now: This bill does not protect property owners. Don't pass it until serious improvements are made.


Melissa Cubria
TexPIRG Advocate

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