2007 Eminent Domain Report Card: North Dakota Gets An “A”

Matt Powers
Matt Powers · June 6, 2007

Arlington, Va.—North Dakota 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, North Dakota has passed some of the strongest legislation in the nation protecting small property owners from eminent domain abuse.

“North Dakota 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 eminent domain laws for each of the 50 states since the Kelo ruling. Read the report at: www.CastleCoalition.org/publications/report_card.

According to the report, “North Dakota didn’t even have a legislative session in 2006, yet it still managed to pass one of the nation’s strongest constitutional amendments because of the hard work of concerned citizens.” A citizen initiative placed an amendment on the ballot that declared, “a public use or a public purpose does not include public benefits of economic development, including an increase in tax base, tax revenues, employment, or general economic health. Private property shall not be taken for the use of, or ownership by, any private individual or entity, unless that property is necessary for conducting a common carrier or utility business.”

When this amendment was presented to voters during the November 2006 elections, it found overwhelming support. Although North Dakota has not had nearly the problems with eminent domain abuse that have been characteristic in other states, residents can be proud that they have ensured the strongest possible protection for these essential liberties that are “the guardian of every other right.” The report stated, “This state’s successful reforms are a shining example to all American citizens of what is possible when people resolve to stand up for their freedoms.” In 2007, Senate Bill 2214 was signed into law, amending the Century Code to reflect the changes made by Measure 2.

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 North Dakota 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.]