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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Proposals to limit CT eminent domain laws killed by General Assembly

From Newsday
The state Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected Republican-sponsored proposals to limit Connecticut's eminent domain laws following last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing New London to take homes for a private development project.

The proposals, which were offered as amendments to legislation that details the two-year, $31.2 billion budget and other provisions, was killed on a mostly 22-11 party-line vote in the Senate.

The House of Representatives defeated a similar proposal 82-50.


The GOP proposal would have prevented a municipality or government agency from taking owner-occupied residential property with four or fewer units for a private development project.
"I just don't believe that we should be in the business of taking a family's home away from them for private interests," said Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield. "I don't believe we should stand up and say private corporate needs, private development needs, trump individual rights."


Democrats, who control the Senate, balked at the timing of the GOP proposal. Some Democratic lawmakers said it makes more sense to confront the issue next year in a regular session when legislators can get more public comment.

"We ought to study this more carefully so there are not unintended consequences," said Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn. He and other Democrats said the amendment raises more questions than it answers.

Republicans countered that the Senate, which was meeting in special session on Tuesday, has passed legislation before that hasn't gone through the regular public hearing process. They said the General Assembly should take action now to protect constituents.

"I would much rather err on the side of going too far to protect individual homeowners and property owners ... than protecting some government agency that wants to take their home because they have the authority, the awesome power to do so because of economic gain," said Sen. David Cappiello, R-Danbury.