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Idaho Restrict Eminent Domain Initiative, Initiative 2 (2006)

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The Idaho Restrict Eminent Domain Initiative, also known as Initiative 2 was on the November 7, 2006 ballot in Idaho as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated. The measure would have limited the ability of the Idaho state government as well as local governments in Idaho to take private property using the power of eminent domain. The measure also would have added additional requirements for judicial review of proceedings involving the exercise of eminent domain and provided statutory definitions for highest and best use, fair market value, just compensation and land use law.[1][2]

Election results

Idaho INIT 2 (2006)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No336,08376.06%
Yes 105,778 23.94%

Election results via: Idaho Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title reads as:[2]

"An initiative relating to eminent domain; amending Section 7 701, Idaho Code, to provide limitations on eminent domain for private parties, and for urban renewal or econimic development purposes; and provide for further judicial review of proceedings involving the exercise of eminent domain; adding a new section 7-701a to provide for definitions relating to highest and best use, fair market value, just compensation, and land use law; and amending Chapter 80, Title 67, Idaho Code, to provide for just compensation when a regulatory action reduces fair market value of property and to provide just compensation to a condemnee."[3]

Support

Website banner of the "Yes on 2" campaign

Supporters

Proposition 2 was supported by the group, "This House is MY Home," led by Laird Maxwell.

Arguments in favor

The argument presented in the official Idaho voter guide on behalf of Proposition 2 was:

Friday, June 23, 2006 was the one-year anniversary of the now-infamous U.S. Supreme Court decision (Kelo) that stripped Americans of any meaningful federal constitutional protection for their private property.

What a difference a year brings. Since the Kelo decision, Americans across the nation have risen up to protect their traditional private property rights from government takings abuse.

Many citizens in states like Idaho are protecting their property using the initiative process.

The taking of private property can either be a total takings via eminent domain, or a partial takings with the passage of regulatory land use laws, like zoning ordinances.

Under current law, property owners can fight for "just compensation" when property is taken by eminent domain. However, when zoning ordinances or other land use laws diminish the value of private property there is no "just compensation."

Abusive regulatory takings are occurring in Blaine County, today. County commissioners are systematically down-zoning properties costing land owners millions of dollars.

Voting YES on Proposition 2 allows property owners to go to court and determine the amount of value that was taken by the land use law, and receive "just compensation." It is only fair.

Taking private property by eminent domain is quite proper for many public purposes. We rely on roads. Some parks are nice. We need electrical transmission lines to span great distances to power our homes, businesses and churches.

Unfortunately, over the years some government officials have used the power to take private property and transfer it to developers in order to construct projects giving the local government an even higher property tax base at the expense of the homeowner, business, or church. (Note: churches are most vulnerable since they pay no property taxes!)

The Institute for Justice (who fought in the Kelo case) attorney Bert Gall said, "The argument is always the same: bureaucrats and developers with big visions of how other people should live claim that the use of eminent domain is necessary for economic development. They promise glitzy development in the name of more taxes and jobs. There is a strong incentive for cities and developers to over-hype the benefits of private development projects involving eminent domain in order to garner political and public support. But it turns out that many of these projects are failures."

Consider this fact: in the five-years preceding the Kelo decision approximately 10,000 properties nationwide were threatened by or taken with eminent domain for private development. In the past year alone since Kelo, that number has ballooned to more than 5,700 properties.

Voting YES on Proposition 2 prevents using eminent domain for private economic development in Idaho.

Finally, just the threat of eminent domain or regulatory takings can force property owners to settle for less than what they could get on the open market.

Government takings can be by regulatory action or eminent domain. Voting Yes on Proposition 2 will prevent takings abuse and make government act like a good neighbor.

Donors

$877,046 was donated to the campaign in favor of Proposition 2.[4]

Donors of $20,000 or more were:

Donor Amount
America At Its Best $575,000
Fund for Democracy $237,000

Opposition

Website logo of the "No on 2" campaign

Opponents

The opposition campaign was coordinated by a group called "Neighbors Protecting Idaho."

Arguments against

The argument presented in the official Idaho voter guide opposing Proposition 2 was:

The key ingredient in Proposition 2 is deception: the vast majority of Idahoans would see their property rights threatened as a result of this initiative. The initiative does not provide additional protection to homeowners from eminent domain, and would dismantle local planning efforts that protect our quality of life.

Eminent Domain Reform is Already Law

Proposition 2 tackles eminent domain reform long after the Legislature has already completed the job. The first part of the initiative merely copies portions of existing law (House Bill 555) enacted by the 2006 Idaho Legislature and signed into law by Governor Kempthorne. The Idaho Legislature has already acted to protect homeowners from eminent domain. Why would the initiative copy a law that's already on the books? Because the initiative is not about eminent domain.

Prop 2: A Losing Proposition for Idahoans

The eminent domain section is included only to distract attention from the initiative's real purpose: gutting local planning that protects our communities and property values and allowing opportunists to prey on Idaho property taxpayers.

For example, say a landowner wants to operate a junkyard next to your house. Under Proposition 2, if the city or county denied the permit, the landowner could file a lawsuit seeking compensation or repeal of the ordinance.

Either way, you lose: the city or county repeals the laws that protect your home and property values from the noise, smell and pollution of incompatible land uses, or as a property taxpayer, you get to foot the bill. Proposition 2 is a losing proposition for Idahoans.

Opportunists Win, Taxpayers Lose

Proposition 2 is poorly written and contains numerous conflicting provisions. Someone will have to pay for the courts to sort out the answers to all these problems - that someone is you, the Taxpayer.

State and Local Laws Should Protect and Balance Property Rights for All

Make no mistake: protection of property rights is essential for everyone! Proposition 2 would allow a few opportunists to threaten our quality of life and burden Idaho property taxpayers. This is directly contrary to the constructive efforts taking place around the state to create communities where every property owner's interests are respected by striving for compatibility and neighborhood stability.

Donors

$807,821 was donated to the campaign opposing Proposition 2.[4]

Donors of $20,000 or more were:

Donor Amount
Nature Conservancy $150,500
Brad Little $150,000
John OConnor $150,000
Clark Development $100,000
Betty Sigler $30,000
Intermountain Industries $25,000
Gretchen Ward $21,000
Paul Brainerd $20,000

See also

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References


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