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Virginia Eminent Domain Amendment, Question 1 (2012)

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Eminent Domain Amendment
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Virginia Constitution
Referred by:Virginia General Assembly
Topic:Eminent domain
Status:Approveda

The Virginia Eminent Domain Amendment, Question 1 was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Virginia as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.[1]

The measure prohibited eminent domain from being used for private enterprise, job creation, tax revenue generation or economic development, thereby restricting it to only being invoked to take private land for public use.[2] Specifically, it updated a 2007 law which stated that private property could be taken only when the public interest dominated the private gain. It was sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell.[3][4]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

Election results will be posted here throughout the day on November 7 and in the days to come as additional votes are counted.

Virginia Question 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 2,661,547 74.45%
No913,20125.55%

Results via the Virginia Secretary of State.

Text of measure

The official ballot text read as follows:[5]

Shall Section 11 of Article I (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended (i) to require that eminent domain only be exercised where the property taken or damaged is for public use and, except for utilities or the elimination of a public nuisance, not where the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development; (ii) to define what is included in just compensation for such taking or damaging of property; and (iii) to prohibit the taking or damaging of more private property than is necessary for the public use?

Support

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was a supporter of the proposed amendment. The Virginia Farm Bureau also supported of the amendment.

  • Cuccinelli said that local governments "despise the notion of individual rights that may ever impede anything they want to do. They're exactly the ones that need to be reined in."[6]
  • In late November 2011, at their annual convention, the Virginia Farm Bureau discussed planned to lobby the 2012 General Assembly in favor of the amendment. According to the bureau's president, Wayne F. Pryor, the amendment would more narrowly define what exactly public use was defined as and would ensure "more land is not taken than is necessary."[2]

Opposition

  • The Virginia Municipal League and the Virginia Association of Counties both approved 2012 legislative agendas that opposed the proposed measure.
    • The Virginia Municipal League said, "The amendment is unnecessary and will harm Virginia's citizens by severely limiting the ability of local governments and the state to carry out projects that help improve life for the commonwealth's population, due to the amendment's language on lost access, lost profits and the loss of eminent domain where economic development, increasing jobs and increasing taxes are involved."[6]
    • The Virginia Association of Counties said that the group "opposes a constitutional amendment or legislation that will severely limit the use and increase the expense of eminent domain."[6]
  • Spotsylvania County opposed the measure. The county said they wanted to preserve eminent domain for public purposes, such as schools, parks and roads, and also wanted to ensure the amounts that localities pay private landowners for taken property were "reasonable and do not include speculative measures of damages."[6]

Media editorial positions

Opposition

  • The Washington Post said, "Virginia lawmakers, in thrall to special interests, are asking voters to approve a state constitutional amendment that would cost state and local governments and taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually in giveaways to private landowners and businesses. This staggering act of corporate welfare — as proposed in Question 1 on the ballot Virginia voters will cast Nov. 6 — would go far beyond current law in any other state. Virginians should vote no on Question 1."[7]

Path to the ballot

See also: Virginia legislatively-referred constitutional amendments

A majority vote was required (in two successive sessions) of the Virginia General Assembly.

On January 31, 2012, the Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee voted 13-2 in favor of the measure, sending it to the full Senate for a vote.[8]

On Monday, February 13, the Virginia Senate passed the measure with a 23-17 vote.[9]

Governor Robert McDonnell signed the amendment in the first week of April, passing it on to the November ballot.[1]

See also

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Additional reading

References