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VETOED: Eminent domain without restraint

From the office of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. For more information on the subject bill, see Power of Kansas cities to take property may be expanded.

Fellow Kansans,

Expanding eminent domain, inviting cronyism, and weakening individual liberties are notions Kansans stand unequivocally against. And that’s precisely why Governor Brownback vetoed Senate Bill 338 earlier this week.

Commonly known as the Blight Bill, this legislation enabled local governments to take land and homes from Kansans and then give it to private organizations. The legislation gave local authorities unmitigated power in determining which properties should be seized, allowing localities to write their own rules. It also ceded to municipalities the power to select which private organizations receive control of the property.

Fundamentally, this bill is an assault to the basic American principles of individual liberty and private property rights. It expands the size and scope of government with the intent purpose of stripping individuals of their private property. It also establishes an all too cozy system between municipalities and private organizations that is rife with the potential for cronyism and government abuse.

Perhaps most egregiously, SB 338 would disparately impact low income and minority communities. By neglecting definitions of blight and abandoned property, this bill gives localities expansive power as they determine zoning laws and city codes that could deprive Kansans of their property rights. Limiting these protections particularly exposes disadvantaged neighborhoods, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and unjust seizures.

Governor Brownback wants to empower the people, but this legislation empowers government. You can read his op-ed explaining his veto here, and why this sort of eminent domain without restraint is wrong. As he writes, “Government should defend and protect the property rights of all citizens, ensuring that the less advantaged are not denied the liberty to which every citizen is entitled.”

Best,

Melika Willoughby
Deputy Communications Director
Office of Governor Sam Brownback