VFBF Real Dirt: AG Cuccinelli Talks about Property Rights Amendment

Have you seen the latest Virginia Farm Bureau Real Dirt video? It features Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli talking about something very near and dear to our hearts: the property rights constitutional amendment. Feel free to share it with your friends through email or even display it on your Facebook page by clicking the Share button at the top of the video. If you need help doing so, please contact me at kelly.pruitt@vafb.com or 804-290-1293. And don’t forget to Vote Yes for Question 1 on Nov. 6!

Governor Signs Property Rights Bills; Coalition Officially Launches Campaign

Virginia landowners will be confident that their private property cannot be taken and given to another private owner under eminent domain if the commonwealth’s voters approve Question 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Bipartisan legislation was signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell yesterday to place a proposed constitutional amendment on this fall’s ballot to protect the private property rights of Virginia’s farmers, small businesses and individuals. The amendment specifies that eminent domain cannot be used unless it is for a true public use and further ensures just compensation for the landowner, including the opportunity for lost access and lost profits to be considered as part of that compensation. The language in the amendment also clarifies what is a true “public use” and specifies that no more land than is necessary can be taken.

The “Private Property Rights” amendment and companion legislation was supported by Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli and patroned by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg; Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle; and Del. Johnny Joannou, D-Portsmouth.

At the July 16 bill signing, a coalition of private property rights advocates announced the launch of a campaign encouraging Virginians to “Vote Yes for Private Property Rights.”

“Our members are excited about the opportunity that this constitutional amendment will provide. No longer will our farms, homes or businesses be taken and given to another private property owner under Kelo-type eminent domain abuses,” said Wayne F. Pryor, president of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. Martha Moore and Trey Davis, Farm Bureau Governmental Relations staff, were also in attendance.

“Our members are grateful to Gov. McDonnell, Attorney Gen. Cuccinelli and the General Assembly for understanding that, while sometimes the government may want someone’s property for a well-agreed public use, taking someone’s home, farm or business so someone else can develop the land is just plain wrong,” said Nicole Riley, state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses. “This amendment ensures that, if property is taken for a legitimate public use, private property owners will be justly compensated.”

Elected officials “have given Virginians the opportunity to approve this historical measure,” added Katie K. Frazier, president of the Virginia Agribusiness Council. “Our job now is to educate the public on what this constitutional amendment does and why it is important to them. We’ll be doing so through grassroots activism and communication.”

The “Vote Yes for Private Property Rights” campaign is supported by Farm Bureau, the NFIB, the Virginia Agribusiness Council, the Virginia Forestry Association, the Virginia Poultry Federation, Americans for Prosperity, the Family Foundation of Virginia and other advocacy groups. The coalition will be posting campaign signs, distributing literature and organizing other activities through the fall.

Property Rights Amendment Passes Senate

Good afternoon. My name is Trey Davis, and I have been fortunate enough to work this year and last on a constitutional amendment to protect your property rights in Virginia’s constitution. With bipartisan support from the 2011 and 2012 Sessions of the General Assembly, we are closer to achieving this goal than ever.

Thanks to your hard work this fall with the Stand Our Ground: Property Rights postcard campaign, we achieved a major victory yesterday, getting the property rights constitutional amendment through the Senate on a 23-17 vote and through the House of Delegates on a vote of 80-18. SB437 (Obenshain) and HB1035 (Joannou), the companion legislation to define lost profits and lost access in regards to eminent domain takings, have passed their respective houses as well.

Here are a few reactions from our Attorney General and Senator Mark Obenshain, the chief patron on the Senate side:

From Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli:

“It has been seven long years of effort, but with today’s vote, our citizens are one step closer to enshrining in the Constitution of Virginia the protections they deserve from overzealous governments and the developers who use them to take away Virginians’ homes, farms, and small businesses,” Cuccinelli said in a prepared statement. “I have fought every year since the 2005 Kelo decision [by the Supreme Court] to strengthen property rights in the commonwealth through various bills and three attempts at a constitutional amendment. A property rights amendment to Virginia’s constitution is the ultimate protection Virginians need, and voters will finally have a property rights amendment to vote on in the November ballot.”

From Sen. Mark Obenshain:

“The passage of this is a great victory for property owners in Virginia.  This has been a long and arduous path, but this fall – Good Lord willing – the voters of Virginia will be given a chance to vote on adding these protections to the Constitution, where they belong.  Respect for private property is a foundational principle of free government,” said Obenshain. “The Property Rights Amendment will secure property rights against the whims of state and local governments, ensuring that private property can only be taken for legitimate public uses – not economic development or the pet projects of government officials.” 

Things are looking good for getting the amendment on the ballot in November, but the battle isn’t over yet. Thanks so much for all the hard work you have already done–collecting postcards, sending emails, making phone calls and visitng your legislators on this issue. This constitutional amendment would not have gotten through without the support of Virginia’s farmers and your activism within Virginia Farm Bureau.

Now the real work begins. We need to educate Virginians about property rights and eminent domain abuse, so they are well-informed when they visit the polls in November. We will be asking for your help in the next few months to help us accomplish this.

Again, thanks for all that you do, and keep reading the blog as well as your Capitol Connections Action Alerts for updates on this issue and other critical Farm Bureau issues.