Text: H.R.4128 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

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Referred in Senate (11/04/2005)

 
[Congressional Bills 109th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 4128 Referred in Senate (RFS)]


109th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 4128


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                            November 4, 2005

  Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
                  To protect private property rights.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Private Property Rights Protection 
Act of 2005''.

SEC. 2. PROHIBITION ON EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE BY STATES.

    (a) In General.--No State or political subdivision of a State shall 
exercise its power of eminent domain, or allow the exercise of such 
power by any person or entity to which such power has been delegated, 
over property to be used for economic development or over property that 
is subsequently used for economic development, if that State or 
political subdivision receives Federal economic development funds 
during any fiscal year in which it does so.
    (b) Ineligibility for Federal Funds.--A violation of subsection (a) 
by a State or political subdivision shall render such State or 
political subdivision ineligible for any Federal economic development 
funds for a period of 2 fiscal years following a final judgment on the 
merits by a court of competent jurisdiction that such subsection has 
been violated, and any Federal agency charged with distributing those 
funds shall withhold them for such 2-year period, and any such funds 
distributed to such State or political subdivision shall be returned or 
reimbursed by such State or political subdivision to the appropriate 
Federal agency or authority of the Federal Government, or component 
thereof.
    (c) Opportunity to Cure Violation.--A State or political 
subdivision shall not be ineligible for any Federal economic 
development funds under subsection (b) if such State or political 
subdivision returns all real property the taking of which was found by 
a court of competent jurisdiction to have constituted a violation of 
subsection (a) and replaces any other property destroyed and repairs 
any other property damaged as a result of such violation.

SEC. 3. PROHIBITION ON EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

    The Federal Government or any authority of the Federal Government 
shall not exercise its power of eminent domain to be used for economic 
development.

SEC. 4. PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION.

    (a) Cause of Action.--Any owner of private property who suffers 
injury as a result of a violation of any provision of this Act may 
bring an action to enforce any provision of this Act in the appropriate 
Federal or State court, and a State shall not be immune under the 
eleventh amendment to the Constitution of the United States from any 
such action in a Federal or State court of competent jurisdiction. In 
such action, the defendant has the burden to show by clear and 
convincing evidence that the taking is not for economic development. 
Any such property owner may also seek any appropriate relief through a 
preliminary injunction or a temporary restraining order.
    (b) Limitation on Bringing Action.--An action brought under this 
Act may be brought if the property is used for economic development 
following the conclusion of any condemnation proceedings condemning the 
private property of such property owner, but shall not be brought later 
than seven years following the conclusion of any such proceedings and 
the subsequent use of such condemned property for economic development.
    (c) Attorneys' Fee and Other Costs.--In any action or proceeding 
under this Act, the court shall allow a prevailing plaintiff a 
reasonable attorneys' fee as part of the costs, and include expert fees 
as part of the attorneys' fee.

SEC. 5. NOTIFICATION BY ATTORNEY GENERAL.

    (a) Notification to States and Political Subdivisions.--
            (1) Not later than 30 days after the enactment of this Act, 
        the Attorney General shall provide to the chief executive 
        officer of each State the text of this Act and a description of 
        the rights of property owners under this Act.
            (2) Not later than 120 days after the enactment of this 
        Act, the Attorney General shall compile a list of the Federal 
        laws under which Federal economic development funds are 
        distributed. The Attorney General shall compile annual 
        revisions of such list as necessary. Such list and any 
        successive revisions of such list shall be communicated by the 
        Attorney General to the chief executive officer of each State 
        and also made available on the Internet website maintained by 
        the United States Department of Justice for use by the public 
        and by the authorities in each State and political subdivisions 
        of each State empowered to take private property and convert it 
        to public use subject to just compensation for the taking.
    (b) Notification to Property Owners.--Not later than 30 days after 
the enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall publish in the 
Federal Register and make available on the Internet website maintained 
by the United States Department of Justice a notice containing the text 
of this Act and a description of the rights of property owners under 
this Act.

SEC. 6. REPORT.

    Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, and 
every subsequent year thereafter, the Attorney General shall transmit a 
report identifying States or political subdivisions that have used 
eminent domain in violation of this Act to the Chairman and Ranking 
Member of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of 
Representatives and to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee 
on the Judiciary of the Senate. The report shall--
            (1) identify all private rights of action brought as a 
        result of a State's or political subdivision's violation of 
        this Act;
            (2) identify all States or political subdivisions that have 
        lost Federal economic development funds as a result of a 
        violation of this Act, as well as describe the type and amount 
        of Federal economic development funds lost in each State or 
        political subdivision and the Agency that is responsible for 
        withholding such funds;
            (3) discuss all instances in which a State or political 
        subdivision has cured a violation as described in section 2(c) 
        of this Act.

SEC. 7. SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING RURAL AMERICA.

    (a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
            (1) The founders realized the fundamental importance of 
        property rights when they codified the Takings Clause of the 
        Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which requires that 
        private property shall not be taken ``for public use, without 
        just compensation''.
            (2) Rural lands are unique in that they are not 
        traditionally considered high tax revenue-generating properties 
        for State and local governments. In addition, farmland and 
        forest land owners need to have long-term certainty regarding 
        their property rights in order to make the investment decisions 
        to commit land to these uses.
            (3) Ownership rights in rural land are fundamental building 
        blocks for our Nation's agriculture industry, which continues 
        to be one of the most important economic sectors of our 
        economy.
            (4) In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. 
        City of New London, abuse of eminent domain is a threat to the 
        property rights of all private property owners, including rural 
        land owners.
    (b) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that the use of 
eminent domain for the purpose of economic development is a threat to 
agricultural and other property in rural America and that the Congress 
should protect the property rights of Americans, including those who 
reside in rural areas. Property rights are central to liberty in this 
country and to our economy. The use of eminent domain to take farmland 
and other rural property for economic development threatens liberty, 
rural economies, and the economy of the United States. The taking of 
farmland and rural property will have a direct impact on existing 
irrigation and reclamation projects. Furthermore, the use of eminent 
domain to take rural private property for private commercial uses will 
force increasing numbers of activities from private property onto this 
Nation's public lands, including its National forests, National parks 
and wildlife refuges. This increase can overburden the infrastructure 
of these lands, reducing the enjoyment of such lands for all citizens. 
Americans should not have to fear the government's taking their homes, 
farms, or businesses to give to other persons. Governments should not 
abuse the power of eminent domain to force rural property owners from 
their land in order to develop rural land into industrial and 
commercial property. Congress has a duty to protect the property rights 
of rural Americans in the face of eminent domain abuse.

SEC. 8. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act the following definitions apply:
            (1) Economic development.--The term ``economic 
        development'' means taking private property, without the 
        consent of the owner, and conveying or leasing such property 
        from one private person or entity to another private person or 
        entity for commercial enterprise carried on for profit, or to 
        increase tax revenue, tax base, employment, or general economic 
        health, except that such term shall not include--
                    (A) conveying private property--
                            (i) to public ownership, such as for a 
                        road, hospital, airport, or military base;
                            (ii) to an entity, such as a common 
                        carrier, that makes the property available to 
                        the general public as of right, such as a 
                        railroad or public facility;
                            (iii) for use as a road or other right of 
                        way or means, open to the public for 
                        transportation, whether free or by toll;
                            (iv) for use as an aqueduct, flood control 
                        facility, pipeline, or similar use;
                    (B) removing harmful uses of land provided such 
                uses constitute an immediate threat to public health 
                and safety;
                    (C) leasing property to a private person or entity 
                that occupies an incidental part of public property or 
                a public facility, such as a retail establishment on 
                the ground floor of a public building;
                    (D) acquiring abandoned property;
                    (E) clearing defective chains of title;
                    (F) taking private property for use by a public 
                utility; and
                    (G) redeveloping of a brownfield site as defined in 
                the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields 
                Revitalization Act (42 U.S.C. 9601(39)).
            (2) Federal economic development funds.--The term ``Federal 
        economic development funds'' means any Federal funds 
        distributed to or through States or political subdivisions of 
        States under Federal laws designed to improve or increase the 
        size of the economies of States or political subdivisions of 
        States.
            (3) State.--The term ``State'' means each of the several 
        States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto 
        Rico, or any other territory or possession of the United 
        States.

SEC. 9. SEVERABILITY AND EFFECTIVE DATE.

    (a) Severability.--The provisions of this Act are severable. If any 
provision of this Act, or any application thereof, is found 
unconstitutional, that finding shall not affect any provision or 
application of the Act not so adjudicated.
    (b) Effective Date.--This Act shall take effect upon the first day 
of the first fiscal year that begins after the date of the enactment of 
this Act, but shall not apply to any project for which condemnation 
proceedings have been initiated prior to the date of enactment.

SEC. 10. SENSE OF CONGRESS.

    It is the policy of the United States to encourage, support, and 
promote the private ownership of property and to ensure that the 
constitutional and other legal rights of private property owners are 
protected by the Federal Government.

SEC. 11. BROAD CONSTRUCTION.

    This Act shall be construed in favor of a broad protection of 
private property rights, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms 
of this Act and the Constitution.

SEC. 12. LIMITATION ON STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.

     Nothing in this Act may be construed to supersede, limit, or 
otherwise affect any provision of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and 
Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (42 U.S.C. 4601 et 
seq.).

SEC. 13. RELIGIOUS AND NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS.

    (a) Prohibition on States.--No State or political subdivision of a 
State shall exercise its power of eminent domain, or allow the exercise 
of such power by any person or entity to which such power has been 
delegated, over property of a religious or other nonprofit organization 
by reason of the nonprofit or tax-exempt status of such organization, 
or any quality related thereto if that State or political subdivision 
receives Federal economic development funds during any fiscal year in 
which it does so.
    (b) Ineligibility for Federal Funds.--A violation of subsection (a) 
by a State or political subdivision shall render such State or 
political subdivision ineligible for any Federal economic development 
funds for a period of 2 fiscal years following a final judgment on the 
merits by a court of competent jurisdiction that such subsection has 
been violated, and any Federal agency charged with distributing those 
funds shall withhold them for such 2-year period, and any such funds 
distributed to such State or political subdivision shall be returned or 
reimbursed by such State or political subdivision to the appropriate 
Federal agency or authority of the Federal Government, or component 
thereof.
    (c) Prohibition on Federal Government.--The Federal Government or 
any authority of the Federal Government shall not exercise its power of 
eminent domain over property of a religious or other nonprofit 
organization by reason of the nonprofit or tax-exempt status of such 
organization, or any quality related thereto.

SEC. 14. REPORT BY FEDERAL AGENCIES ON REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES 
              RELATING TO EMINENT DOMAIN.

    Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this 
Act, the head of each Executive department and agency shall review all 
rules, regulations, and procedures and report to the Attorney General 
on the activities of that department or agency to bring its rules, 
regulations and procedures into compliance with this Act.

SEC. 15. SENSE OF CONGRESS.

    It is the sense of Congress that any and all precautions shall be 
taken by the government to avoid the unfair or unreasonable taking of 
property away from survivors of Hurricane Katrina who own, were 
bequeathed, or assigned such property, for economic development 
purposes or for the private use of others.

            Passed the House of Representatives November 3, 2005.

            Attest:

                                                 JEFF TRANDAHL,

                                                                 Clerk.

                            By Gerasimos C. Vans,

                                                          Deputy Clerk.

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