Sunday, January 1, 2012

Kelo Decision: Robbing the Poor (2)

Part 1 of this blog discusses the Kelo Decision (2005) and the immediate reaction of 42 states to pass eminent domain reform legislation. In 2006, New Hampshire adopted a Constitutional amendment, 12-a, to curb abuse of eminent domain. Courtesy of Peter Martin, Plymouth, this blog reviews efforts in 2011 to bring NH's public utilities statue on takings (RSA 371:1) into conformity with 12-a -- and outlines what still must be accomplished in 2012

[Art.] 12-a. of the New Hampshire Constitution states: [Power to Take Property Limited.] No part of a person's property shall be taken by eminent domain and transferred, directly or indirectly, to another person if the taking is for the purpose of private development or other private use of the property.

Adopted on November 7, 2006

This amendment was passed by 85% of NH voters and ratified by 100% of the state senate in response to the infamous US Supreme Court Kelo decision, which gave eminent domain power to a private, for profit, company.  Americans of every persuasion were rightfully outraged.

The current statute law dealing with eminent domain taking is RSA 371:1, which statute is in need of updating to reflect the requirements of article 12-a.  No problem.  The house overwhelmingly passed a revised 371:1 as house bill 648 (HB 648) last spring to reflect the new reality. 

Not so the senate.  When the senate Judiciary committee began considering HB 648 they appeared confused by previously defined and agreed upon language.  So in disarray were they that they sent the bill on to the entire senate declaring that it needed more study.  The full senate subsequently debated the bill, confusing the issues far more and sent it back to committee for further study.

On December 8th the judiciary committee met again to straighten out the mess.  The result was nothing short of farcical.  The committee, comprised of supposedly intelligent adults could not seem to understand the words, “or a participant-funded (private) transmission facility,” added to a statute forbidding the use of eminent domain for the construction of a generating facility.  They did, however, agree to substitute a three page amendment filled with instructions enumerating the procedures needed to take private property.  So, they turned a bill meant to protect our private property from corporate for profit taking, into an instruction manual on how to take our property.

PSNH representatives were at the hearing and were most certainly pleased with the outcome of the proceedings.  They should be for they have been oh so generous with “campaign donations” to the senators who submitted the how-to amendment. 

HB 648 is not about jobs, it is not about taxes, and it is definitely not about giving a pirate license to power companies so that they can steal your private property.  All New Hampshire citizens will be threatened unless a strong, no loop-hole HB 648 is passed.  The Canadian power producers have their sights set on the big markets to our south, and there are many more of these massive transmission line projects in the planning stage.  Geography is not on our side.  Today the folks in the North Country and the I-93 corridor are threatened.  Tomorrow, regardless of where you live in the state, it will be your turn.  Help your neighbors and yourself. 

Contact your senator today and tell him or her to support HB 648 as Senator Forrester has amended it.   

--Reprinted by permission of Peter Martin