Property Rights Votes Face Six States

Libertarians are pushing ballot initiatives in six Western states to vastly reduce the government's power to regulate land uses. The initiatives seek to limit regulatory takings of land by requiring the government to compensate owners for any losses.
August 7, 2006, 6am PDT | Nate Berg
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The Libertarian-backed ballot initiatives in six Western states want the government to keep its hands off of your property. But if it must intervene, the government should fully compensate the owner for any real or even potential economic losses, according to the initiatives facing voters this November. The spells trouble for land use regulations and the government's ability to use the power of eminent domain.

"The impacts of Measure 37 have been delayed by court battles, and the libertarians are determined to turn the delays to their advantage. Before the fallout in Oregon can be fully understood, they are rushing to pass similar ballot initiatives in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Arizona, Nevada and California. While each initiative has its own sales pitch, they all deliberately tuck the notion inside the unrelated eminent domain controversy. The Los Angeles-based libertarian Reason Foundation mapped the strategy in a 64-page paper published in April, titled Statewide Regulatory Takings Reform: Exporting Oregon’s Measure 37 to Other States. It recommended pushing 'Kelo-plus' initiatives, combining eminent domain reform with regulatory takings, to capitalize 'on the tremendous public and political momentum generated in the aftermath of the Kelo ruling...' "

"Here’s how the initiatives would work: If you could fit 20 houses on your land, plus a junkyard, a gravel mine, and a lemonade stand, and the government limits you to six houses and lemonade, then the government would have to pay you whatever profit you would have made on the unbuilt 14 houses, junkyard and mine. Generally, if the government can’t or won’t pay you, then it would have to drop the regulations."

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Published on Monday, July 24, 2006 in High Country News
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