Sunday, April 23, 2006
I've mentioned before that many states (and the national legislature) have taken steps, in response to Kelo, to make it harder for governments to take private property and transfer it to another private party as part of an economic development plan. The State of Illinois is about to pass such legislation, and it is worth looking at the provisions of the new bill and the circumstances under which it is likely to pass.
The Illinois House last week passed, on an 85 - 6 vote, a bill that will make it more difficult for Chicago and other governments in the state to take private property for any purpose and particularly for private economic development. The bill first requires public officials to justify the taking. In those circumstances in which government officials desire to take private property and transfer it to another private party for the purposes of economic development, they have an even higher burden of demonstrating by "clear and convincing" evidence that the taking is justified. The bill exempts government from either of these burdens if the taking is meant to clear up urban blight. In all circumstances of taking, the new legislation requires public officials to pay fair market value for the property taken and relocation costs, the parties' reasonable attorneys' fees, and some other costs.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the Illinois Municipal League (which represents more than 1,100 municipalities in the State) and the City of Chicago initially opposed the legislation because it might significantly raise their costs of taking. Legislators then worked out a compromise exempting Chicago's plans to expand O'Hare from the new legislation, and Chicago withdrew its opposition.
The Illinois Senate easily passed a similar version of the bill earlier in this session and will almost certainly pass the new House bill.