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Committee advances eminent domain legislation

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By AP/KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – A proposal in Jefferson City to limit seizures of private property for private projects passed out of a Missouri House committee on Monday.

But the panel revised the measure to reduce the burden on the public or private party taking land through the power of eminent domain.

The committee shortened the mandatory notification period to citizens whose property may be taken. The list of factors that must be considered in deciding if an owner will be reimbursed was also shortened.

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bryan Pratt (R-Blue Springs), said his panel's version will stop future abuses of eminent domain.

But Leslie Holloway, of The Missouri Farm Bureau, says the committee removed some important protections.

The issue of eminent domain gained attention last year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that property could be taken for private economic development projects.

Rep. Michael Vogt (D-St. Louis) was the only member of the committee to vote against the proposal. He argued the city of St. Louis should be exempted from the bill because the restrictions go too far and would hamstring redevelopment efforts.

Vogt says he thinks the bill would work in rural and suburban areas but would do more harm than good to efforts to reclaim old neighborhoods. "For the first time in a generation, the arrow is pointing up [in the city]," he said. "Now, we've got the Farm Bureau trying to stop us from being able to keep our progress up. The city of St. Louis needs to have the tool of eminent domain."

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