by Rick Henderson
Editor-in-Chief, Carolina Journal
A constitutional amendment outlawing eminent domain for economic development purposes is on its way to the Senate.
A section was slipped into Senate Bill 636, Wildlife Resources Commission Penalty Changes, that would amend the North Carolina Constitution as follows:
Private property shall not be taken by eminent domain except for a public use. Just compensation shall be paid and shall be determined by a jury at the request of any party.
The eminent domain section was barely discussed, and the bill passed 103-10. The margin of victory would have been larger, but a handful of Democrats changed their votes from yes to no when they realized the constitutional amendment was in the bill.
If the measure passes the Senate, the amendment will be on the general election ballot in November 2014. And while the amendment would signal a huge gain for property owners, as Gov. Pat McCrory has mentioned in another context, the process stinks — though these kind of shenanigans are all-too-common in the waning days of a session.