NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Property Rights Protection Stalls

February 8, 1999

Property owners' rights were upheld by the U.S. House of Representatives and then ignored in the Senate, sending them to seek protection from state legislatures and state and federal courts. Opposed to property rights protections are environmentalists and land-use regulators concerned about their affect on wetlands use and endangered species regulations.

  • Courts are concerned with the Takings Clause of the Constitution's Fifth Amendment -- and it is to them that land-owners are turning for relief.
  • But court battles can take years to resolve and well- funded environmental groups can out-spend private property owners over the years in legal fees.
  • Most of the roughly 200 state and local initiatives to preserve farmland, parks and open spaces on the November passed, without regard to the property owners who will be harmed.
  • But in Arizona, a state court recently dismissed a case challenging a state law requiring counties that rezone land in a way that reduces its fair market value to get the written consent of the owner in advance.

Between 1991 and 1996, 21 states passed some type of property- rights protections. But in 1997, no state passed any new type of property-rights laws.

The wind has gone out of the issue, observers report.

Source: Laura M. Litvan, "Landowners' Movement Stalls," Investor's Business Daily, February 8, 1999.


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