The Missouri House of Representatives moved HB 1062, sponsored by Rep. Jim Hansen (R-40), forward Thursday, April 18, 2019, with a bipartisan 115-35 vote. The legislation now moves to the Missouri Senate for approval. The Missouri Cattlemen's Association was quick to commend legislators for approving the measure that it says protects private property rights for its members.
"The is a big day for private property rights," said MCA President Bobby Simpson. "The House made clear that these rights are fundamental in this state. We encourage the senate to quickly follow suit."
The legislation would make it more difficult for a private, for-profit entity to acquire eminent domain. MCA Executive Vice President Mike Deering said the urgency of this legislation is in response to the Public Service Commission granting eminent domain for the Grain Belt Express project in late March. As a result of that decision, private investors will now have the authority to take land from private landowners in eight counties.
Rep. Hansen made clear the legislation goes beyond the eight counties. House and senate leadership, as well as Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, called it a Missouri issue. Simply put, this project will undoubtedly lead to more, according to Deering. He said other states have stood firm and rejected the notion of setting a precedent for private companies to acquire cheap land through eminent domain from private property owners.
Some municipalities were promised cheap power by investors. Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, who is also a cattleman, said he understands the appeal of affordable energy.
"I know municipalities may be able to save a little bit on electricity, but giving up somebody else's property rights to do that, I just think is a bad trade off," said Kehoe. "I think property rights have to be first and foremost in our mind."
As the bill moves to the senate, Simpson encourages landowners from all regions of the state to contact their respective state senator.