The fight to protect landowners from expanded eminent domain authority continues.
Ohio Farm Bureau successfully prevented an expansion of takings authority in the Senate’s version of the transportation budget, but it could return. Legislators from both chambers must reconcile their two versions and were to provide a final transportation budget to Gov. Mike DeWine by March 31, however details were still being hashed out as of April 1.
The amendment would have increased quick take authority, which allows property to be taken immediately without the normal eminent domain process. The amendment would allow utility companies to bypass normal eminent domain procedures and instead allow the utility to take immediate possession by depositing with the court an amount the utility believes is an appropriate value.
Farm Bureau policy policy supports adequate compensation before beginning a project.
“This amendment eliminates the landowner’s negotiating power,” said Jenna Beadle, OFBF director of state policy.
Another provision of the amendment allowed project approval by the Ohio Power Siting Board to be used as a determination of need for the project under eminent domain.
“This takes away a landowner’s right to argue the necessity of the project or whether an existing easement could be used for the project,” Beadle said.
Even if the expanded authority is not in the final transportation budget, Beadle expects the issue to reappear in future legislation. Ohio Farm Bureau will remain vigilant in defeating this substantial change to state law.