WDAM Viewpoint- Eminent Domain-Initiative #31

October 6, 2011

There will be three very important Initiatives on the November ballot.  While we won't presume to advise you how to vote…we would like to inform you what these initiatives are all about…and encourage you to study them for yourself.

Initiative #31—deals with the reform of Mississippi's Eminent Domain law.  It would leave in place the government's ability to compel a property owner to sell their land to the state for infrastructure projects, such as right-of-ways for roads, utilities, hospitals, airports and even dilapidated buildings…for a predetermined fair market value.  What initiative 31 would change, if passed, is the state's ability to force someone to sell their land to the state and then have it transferred to a private individual, company or industry within 10 years.  Those who are for the Initiative argue that a person's home is their castle and their private property is irrevocably theirs.  Those who are against Initiative 31 say the passage of this reform would stifle industrial and economic development in Mississippi.   The current Eminent Domain law was used to force some land owners to sell property for the building of the Nissan and Toyota plants, Ingalls Shipyard, the Stennis Space Center and other job creating projects.  If your stance is that no property owner should be forced to sell their property in order to facilitate such development then you should vote for Initiative 31.  On the other hand, if you believe that a few property owners should not be allowed to stand in the way of what the state considers the common good of economic progress, you should vote against it.  In either event be sure and cast your vote on November 8.