During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers and Gov. Steve Bullock put the interests of landowners ahead of the corporations that condemn property for private, for-profit purposes when they passed House Bill 417, a bill that helps restore some fairness in the eminent domain process. It was sponsored by Rep. Kelly Flynn, R-Townsend.
While Montana’s property owners are eager to build our state’s economy (most are business owners themselves), I believe that the power of eminent domain should only be used for public projects that advance the public good. The process should be fair, and landowners should receive just compensation for the property taken. HB 417 makes the condemnation process more fair by requiring that the entity condemning the property give a landowner a final written offer before initiating condemnation proceedings, preventing bad actors from playing manipulative games with various offers which leave the landowner unsure of where they stand.
There is more work to do to restore balance to our eminent domain laws, but HB 417 was an important start and now a good law.