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Congressman Rob Bishop

Representing the 1st District of Utah

House Passes Bishop Provision Preventing Fed Abuse of Eminent Domain

June 27, 2007
Press Release
 The U.S. House of Representatives has approved, by voice vote, an eminent domain provision filed by Congressman Rob Bishop which would protect private property rights near public lands. The amendment, made to the Interior Appropriations bill currently under consideration by the House, prohibits the federal land agencies from using funds contained in the annual spending bill to condemn land.

"In light of the Kelo decision and the abuse of eminent domain, Congress must set the example on the importance of property rights," Congressman Bishop said. "While there are legitimate uses for eminent domain, the Department of the Interior too often uses the threat of condemnation to persuade landowners into becoming ‘willing sellers.' This amendment removes that threat and protects our constituents."

During discussion of the amendment, Mr. Bishop noted that the Kelo v. The City of New London case raised public awareness about the rampant abuses of eminent domain. The Utah lawmaker, whose home state is dominated by federal land holdings, added that the mere threat by federal agencies to use eminent domain usually results in property owners handing over their property for less than it is worth. For the benefit of some of his colleagues, Representative Bishop had earlier cited examples of citizens living within or near national parks, forests, and public lands constantly battling an army of land planners, bureaucrats, and skilled lawyers determined to take their property.

Congressman Bishop also submitted an amendment to shift roughly $32 million in the bill to beef up border security on federal lands, but that amendment failed. This Bishop amendment was based on the clear and repeated damage to public lands inflicted by illegal immigration along the southern U.S. border. The reported damage threatens endangered species, protected resources, and visitor access to public lands, and in some cases has caused catastrophic fires.

The final amendment sponsored by Representative Bishop would have prohibited funds in the bill from being disbursed to 501(c)(3) organizations that are party to lawsuits against the agency from which they are seeking funds. Mr. Bishop pointed out that there are many cases where government agencies are inadvertently funding litigation against themselves, which quickly becomes a self-perpetuating problem and funding mechanism that hurts the American taxpayer. This amendment was not adopted.

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