Governor Vetoes Property Rights Bill

Unfortunately, the Governor just vetoed Senator Obenshain’s SB543 which VFBF supported. He had previously offered amendments to the General Assembly to weaken the bill, and those amendments were overwhelmingly rejected in the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 30-9.
Virginia Farm Bureau had sent a letter along with the Virginia Agribusiness Council and the National Federation of Independent Businesses asking him to sign the bill as passed. We are disappointed in the Governor’s decision and will work to protect private property rights in the 2017 Session. You can read the Governor’s press release here: https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=15335.

SB543 was introduced to better protect landowners and align with the language in the property rights constitutional amendment that passed in 2012. The legislation seeks to direct the court to reimburse a plaintiff for the costs of an inverse condemnation proceeding for “damaging” property if a judgment is entered for the plaintiff. Under current law, the court is directed to award compensation only for the “taking” of property. This would make sure that if your farm is damaged by the taking of a property next to you, you will be compensated fairly.

Since the constitutional amendment went into effect, utilities and special interests have tried to maintain that only certain protections for you as a landowner go into effect if your property is completely taken. Virginia law is clear that a jury may award you compensation if you can prove that an eminent domain project caused damage to your farm. SB543 was crucial as several large condemnation projects are set to get underway soon!

SB543 passed the House of Delegates and Senate unanimously.

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