What a wuss -- UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Friday, September 22, 2006

What a wuss -- UPDATE

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2006 at 1:34 PM

Mike! is covering his rear on eminent domain. I expect a news release from A$a! shortly.

Either we have a problem on unjust condemnations in Arkansas or we don't. I don't happen to think we do, in part because of the explicit protection of private property in our state Constitution. I happen to think this is a straw man, ripe for demagoguing, which A$a has done. I even happen to think that the TIF law, bad as it is in terms of raping school districts of revenue, gets it right in allowing condemnations of private property for other private uses -- at least it would be right IF the legislation addressed true blight.  But the TIF law isn't about blight. It's about corporate welfare for developers, including a very powerful one who supports Mike! 

If Beebe actually does offer legislation to prohibit appropriation of private property for other private uses, it will at least give TIF opponents another run at amending that bit of self-interest law.

UPDATE: As predicted A$a! has a news release. It's on the jump.


Asa Hutchinson, the 2006 Republican nominee for Governor, called on Attorney General Mike Beebe today to revise the official Attorney General’s opinion he issued last year asserting that Arkansas has no need for stronger property rights.

Hutchinson issued the challenge to the Attorney General today after Beebe appeared to have changed his position, telling the Arkansas Realtor’s Association in Memphis that he is now working on legislation to strengthen property rights.

“The Attorney General seems to have done a complete flip-flop on the issue of property rights, and I welcome him to our position, but if he is sincere then he should change the official opinion he released last year saying that no such action was necessary,” Hutchinson said.

The issue became a point of contention between Hutchinson and Beebe last year after the Supreme Court ruled that local government could seize private property – including homes, farms, small businesses – in the name of “public use” for purposes of increasing tax revenues or economic development.

Hutchinson said that this ruling distorted the traditional definition of “public use,” and called for legislation to define “public use” in a way that would prevent such abuse. Beebe responded that such action was unnecessary, and subsequently issued a formal opinion as Attorney General declaring that such action was unnecessary.

Hutchinson applauded Beebe for his change of position, but said that unless the Attorney General revises the official opinion he issued last year contradicting his new position, it was “empty politics.”

“Without a revised opinion by the Attorney General, opponents of the stronger property rights movement can use Attorney General Beebe’s opinion as ammunition to block stronger protections,” said Hutchinson. 

Just last year Don Zimmerman – executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League, which represents local governments – unsurprisingly praised Beebe’s opinion, stating that Beebe 'nailed' the opinion by asserting that Arkansas has no needs for stronger protections against eminent domain abuse. (Laura Kellams, "State Law Forbids Taking Land For Private Use, Beebe Says," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 8/31/2005)

Also, in November, the House and Senate Interim Committees on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development held hearings on the need to strengthen property rights. During that hearing, copies of Attorney General Beebe’s opinion were issued and passed around to committee members and staff. Despite the AG’s opinion, the committee voted to move forward anyway.

The end result was new legislation drafted and introduced to the Legislature, which Hutchinson applauded. He suggested that if Beebe has changed his position, he should support legislation that has already been introduced.

“It’s frankly bizarre that Mike Beebe would now be preparing redundant legislation. The Legislature has held hearings, has studied the issue and has drafted legislation,” Hutchinson said. “It’s even more bizarre that even while Mr. Beebe is creating new, redundant legislation, he is at the same time still claiming it’s all unnecessary. Why is he wasting taxpayer dollars by drafting redundant legislation he believes to be unnecessary in the first place?” Hutchinson asked. “It seems that once again he’s trying to have it both ways with the voters.”



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