New legislation before the Texas legislature wrongly assumes that private sector use of eminent domain is more problematic than government use.
In his March 4 testimony before the Texas state affairs committee regarding SB 421, IPI president Tom Giovanetti pointed out the troubling assumption underlying the bill—that there is something wrong or potentially abusive about allowing the private sector to use eminent domain.
“This position may surprise some who consider themselves defenders of property rights, limited government, the Constitution, and conservative principles,” said Giovanetti, who pointed out the following:
- Neither the federal Constitution nor the state constitution reserve a monopoly to government to build and own infrastructure.
- If only the government can use eminent domain, than only the government can build infrastructure, and that’s a recipe for bigger government.
- By allowing robust private sector infrastructure building, we can grow the Texas economy without growing the Texas government.
“It is far more likely that landowners will be better served by the private sector than by government when it comes to eminent domain and infrastructure construction,” said Giovanetti. “Private companies have every incentive to keep consumers as happy as possible. This is another feature, rather than a bug, of letting private companies build infrastructure.”
“There may very well be ways to improve the current laws and practices in Texas regarding eminent domain, but the legislation before you wrongly assumes that private sector use of eminent domain is more problematic than government use,” he said. “We should be more sensitive to abuses at the hand of government than at the hand of the private sector.”