Craddick Releases Interim Charges To Study Eminent Domain And Protect Private Property Rights
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Craddick Releases Interim Charges To Study Eminent Domain And Protect Private Property Rights

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Other charges will study ways to bolster transparency and accountability in county appraisal districts

Austin, TX – November 30, 2007 – Speaker Tom Craddick (Midland) today announced the final and third of his interim charges for House committees, some of which look to better protect private property rights and to protect taxpayers from skyrocketing appraisals.

“The ability of our citizens to own private property is a keystone to our democracy and economic strength,” Speaker Craddick said. “We want to make sure landowners are properly compensated when land is taken for public purposes, and that the eminent domain process is fair from start to finish.”

In light of the 2005 Kelo decision by the United States Supreme Court, legislators have moved quickly to protect private rights from eminent domain procedures. One of the interim charges concerning this topic will be to observe and study ongoing litigation and current practices by condemning authorities to make recommendations for changes in eminent domain laws needed to better protect private property rights. Specifically, legislators will examine the laws used to determine the amount of compensation property owners receive when their land is condemned, and they will compare those laws to similar ones in other states.

Another charge will be to research annexation practices in the state to determine whether municipalities are abiding by both the spirit and the letter of the state’s annexation laws, thereby maintaining a proper balance between municipal governments and individual residents.

In addition to the charges on eminent domain, Speaker Craddick also highlighted a number of interim charges that will look at ways to improve transparency and accountability in the county appraisal process.

“We will comprehensively review all aspects of the county appraisal process and leave no stone unturned,” Speaker Craddick said. “Taxpayers deserve better accountability and transparency in the process of how their dollars are taxed. It is my hope that these interim charges will shed some light on how we can find some lasting solutions that strike a balance between stronger taxpayer protection and the ability of local governments to collect necessary revenue.”

One charge will be to review the way local governments communicate potential tax rate increases and explore the possibility of requiring two public hearings on these increases. Under current law, only one public hearing is required. Another charge will examine the system for appraising property for property tax purposes. Studies will examine the effects of recent legislation on the appraisal process, review the system for choosing the Central Appraisal District Board of Directors, look into ways to limit the authority of the chief appraiser, provide better state oversight of appraisal districts, improve appraisal district efficiency, transparency and services and reform the property valuation appeal system.

Other charges were released today for the following committees: Agriculture and Livestock, County Affairs, Energy Resources, Environmental Regulation, Human Services, Juvenile Justice and Family Issues, Land and Resource Management, Licensing and Administrative Procedures, Natural Resources, Public Health, Regulated Industries and Transportation. To view all of the studies issued today, go to: http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/charges/80interim/InterimChargeDay3.pdf.

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