- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Protecting property rights
When historians 50 years from now look back on the work of the Virginia General Assembly, which is scheduled to end this year’s session on Saturday, what legislation will they conclude was most important? Popular wisdom has it that they will remember what was done on critical issues like transportation, taxes and the budget. We disagree.
One issue that is at least as important — yet is being virtually ignored — is the matter of eminent domain, which pits local governments and powerful business interests led by the state Chamber of Commerce against small property owners and small businesses. The next 48 hours will determine whether Virginians are protected against efforts by big business and big government to take their property for the benefit of private interests who assert they can use it “more productively.”
In the wake of last year’s Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London (which gives government the authority to deprive someone of his property in order to give it to someone who can use it to generate more jobs or tax revenue), some well-deserved attention is being focused on Virginia’s seriously flawed eminent-domain laws. On the facing page, Steven Anderson, a lawyer with the Castle Coalition, makes a powerful case that the Old Dominion’s current laws do a poor job of protecting small property owners who want to defend their homes and businesses from large companies and governmental bodies who covet them.
Both the Virginia Senate and the House of Delegates have passed versions of “reform.” As Mr. Anderson points out, Senate Bill 394 is a real reform bill. It limits the use of eminent domain to cases where the public at large or the government will own or occupy the property in question. But the major legislative alternative, House Bill 94, leaves the government free to take property in order to turn it over to large businesses, like big-box stores or prospective developers of shopping malls. House and Senate negotiators are currently engaged in difficult, protracted negotiations that will determine what kind of protections Virginians will have against local government leviathans who want to take their land for private profit.
Whatever the final outcome, Virginians owe a debt of gratitude to two lawmakers in particular: Delegate Johnny Jouannou, a Portsmouth Democrat, whose amendment, now attached to the Senate bill, provides the exact property-rights protections that Virginians need, and Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, Fairfax County Republican, who has labored tirelessly to drive home the importance of the issue. During these final hours, we urge Virginians to urge their members to support and oppose any weakening of the Jouannou language.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- ICT trade mission to Azerbaijan successfully completed
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whisky: U.K.-born expert
- JACOBS: Prepare for a fight on driverless vehicles
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Inside China: Ukraine gets nuke umbrella
- White House faces press revolt over access to Obama's South Africa flight
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow