Though all eyes were watching the Democrats take back the House and Senate, the 2006 election had a subplot crucial to the real estate industry. In 11 states referendums recommending restricting the use of eminent domain were on the ballot and in nine states those measures passed.
Voters in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon and South Carolina all opted to restrict the use of eminent domain. Overall, the measures passed by overwhelming margins, with up to 75 percent in favor of the restrictions. Six of the measures were amendments to state constitutions. In other states, the ballot measures were referendums.
Language on the measures varied. According to Pacific Legal Foundation, a pro-property rights group, the strongest reform passed in Florida, which not only restricts use of eminent domain for private development, but also forbids the government from taking property even in the interest of eliminating blight.
For the most part, though, the restrictions are aimed specifically at preventing the use of eminent domain to take property from one private entity and give it to another.As a result, the new measures bar the use of eminent domain for commercial development, instead limiting its use for public works projects.
“Americans are demanding protection from eminent domain, and insisting that the bureaucrats respect their property rights,” says Pacific Legal Foundation Staff Attorney Timothy Sandefur.
The only two states where measures did not pass were California and Idaho.