Montana Eminent Domain Reform Amendment (2010)

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The Montana Eminent Domain Reform Amendment, also known as I-162, was proposed as an initiated state statute for the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot in Montana. Under the proposed ballot measure, landowners could have potentially sued state or local governments for regulations that reduce property values more than 25 percent. If a landowner chose to sue and subsequently won, they could be compensated or the regulation could be discarded. The measure was filed initially as Ballot Issue #8 and later was filed as Ballot Issue #16.[1][2][3]

The ballot initiative was sponsored by the United Property Owners of Montana. Despite the approval of circulation by the Montana Secretary of State, campaign leader Charles Denowh stated the group’s intentions to cease circulation before the June 18, 2010 deadline and instead bring up the issue in legislature. According to Denowh: “This is a major piece of legislation, and we want to make sure it's done right. We want to ensure it does exactly what we think it does, and that there are no unintended consequences. This law is an absolute necessity for Montana, and the best way to achieve it is through the legislative process."[4][5]

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title of the measure read:[6]

The Montana Constitution allows state and local governments to take or damage private property for public use if compensation is paid. I-162 provides a new definition of taking or damaging that includes government actions that affect the use of property and reduce its value by 25% or more. It applies to all forms of property, including land, physical objects, obligations, statutory rights, businesses, licenses, and water rights. It allows the owner to sue to invalidate the government action or recover compensation. I-162 exempts some government actions, including actions strictly necessary to respond to public health, safety, and welfare threats.

I-162 costs state and local governments an estimated $600 million over six years to respond to new claims of taking or damaging private property, based on the actual and estimated costs resulting from similar proposals in other states. Those costs include compensation, legal defense expenses, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.

[ ] FOR allowing invalidation of, or compensation for, government actions that affect the use of property and reduce its value by 25% or more.

[ ] AGAINST allowing invalidation of, or compensation for, government actions that affect the use of property and reduce its value by 25% or more.

Fiscal impact

A fiscal analysis performed by the state's budget office concluded that the initiative could have cost the state and local governments at least $600 million if enacted in an election. Mining permits, local sanitation rules and water rights decisions were taken into account in the analysis. The report was based on an analysis done in the state of Washington when a similar proposition arose. The measure could have become one of the most expensive measures in Montana's history. Also taken into consideration was the potential lawsuit that could appear from big companies and aggressive developers.

Supporters of the measure stated otherwise. According to Denowh: "It was a drastically different ballot initiative over there. They didn't do a fiscal analysis of our initiative."[1][7][8]

Support

Supporters

Charles Denowh, a former executive director of the Montana Republican Party, was the leader of the initiative. According to Denowh, the fiscal analysis executed by the state was inaccurate and did not reflect the ballot measure's plan. According to Denowh: "It was a drastically different ballot initiative over there. They didn't do a fiscal analysis of our initiative."[1]

Opposition

Opponents

Montana Trout Unlimited stated their opposition to the measure, arguing that the plan would have brought difficulties in managing land and wildlife issues. One argument the group made was the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks could not make fishing or hunting changes without compromising the value of outfitters' property. According to the group's spokesman, Mark Aagenes: "We are trying to understand the huge implications, besides the $600 million figure. No doubt that Montana Trout Unlimited, with the current language, is adamantly opposed."[1]

Path to the ballot

See also Laws governing the initiative process in Montana

Petition circulators had until the June 18, 2010 petition drive deadline to turn in the required 24,337 signatures, since the proposed measure is a citizen-initiated state statute. However, sponsors did not collect enough signatures for the ballot.[9]

See also

External links

Additional reading

References