Bills would limit eminent-domain seizures | NevadaAppeal.com

Bills would limit eminent-domain seizures

Bills designed to head off a ballot question imposing stiff requirements on governments seeking to condemn private land were introduced in the Nevada Legislature on Tuesday.

AB102 by Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, and SB85 by Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, both prohibit the use of condemnation to acquire property to transfer it to a private company as part of an economic development plan.

Horne said the purpose of the bill was to ensure that condemnation proceedings are only used for the public’s benefit, not a private company.

Raggio said he hopes the legislation will help convince voters not to pass the so-called PISTOL ballot initiative. PISTOL would not only ban the transfer of condemned property to private interests but includes a number of other restrictions on the use of condemnation proceedings, which state officials say would seriously interfere with road construction projects, among other things.

One of the requirements in the ballot question requires government to turn land back over to the former owner at the price paid for it if it isn’t used for a public purpose within five years. Nevada Department of Transportation officials say that would effectively require them to repurchase land every five years at a new and higher price unless they could build roadway projects in less than five years. They say it often takes more than a decade to actually get a road project built.

The result, according to NDOT officials, would be hundreds of millions added to the cost of road construction projects.

The question passed in 2006, winning nearly two-thirds of the votes cast. If passed a second time, it becomes part of the Nevada Constitution.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.