2007 Eminent Domain Report Card: New Mexico Gets An “A”

Matt Powers
Matt Powers · June 6, 2007

Arlington, Va.—New Mexico home and small business owners have reason to celebrate according to a 50-state eminent domain report card released today. In the two years since the infamous Kelo eminent domain ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed eminent domain for private gain, New Mexico has passed some of the strongest legislation in the nation protecting small property owners from eminent domain abuse.

“New Mexico homeowners are much more protected from eminent domain abuse today than they were the day the Kelo decision was announced,” said Steven Anderson, director of the Castle Coalition, a national grassroots organization that examined and graded eminent domain laws for each of the 50 states since the Kelo ruling. Read the report at: www.CastleCoalition.org/publications/report_card.

The report stated that in 2006, the Legislature passed good reform language in House Bill 746. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed the bill, and instead formed an Eminent Domain Task Force to study the issue. A majority of the Task Force members voted to recommend repealing the power of eminent domain for economic development, and lawmakers introduced several bills adopting the Task Force’s recommendations.

This year, House Bill 393 removed the power of eminent domain from the state’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Code—ensuring protection for New Mexico’s home and small business owners from the type of eminent domain abuse seen in Kelo. By now no longer allowing condemnations for blight, New Mexico passed some of the nation’s strongest reform. An exception was made for so-called “antiquated platting” issues in Rio Rancho, but that amendment was narrowly written and does not affect the heart of the reform.

Among the states that passed the strongest reforms protecting property owners are Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota, each of which received an A or A- grade. States that received F’s were: Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.

“In only two years since Kelo, 41 states have reformed their laws to offer greater protection to small property owners,” said Jenifer Zeigler, legislative affairs attorney with the Castle Coalition. “But much more work remains if homeowners, small business owners, churches and farmers are to be as safe as those in New Mexico from the unholy alliance of tax-hungry governments and land-hungry developers.”

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[NOTE: To arrange interviews on this subject, journalists may call John Kramer, the Institute for Justice’s vice president for communications, at (703) 682-9320 ext. 205 or in the evening/weekend at (703) 527-8730. For more information on eminent domain abuse, visit www.ij.org or www.castlecoalition.org.]