2017 Property Rights Legislation

Below is a summary of various bills from the 85th Texas Legislative Session that we support to reform the eminent domain process.

Legislation Created in Direct Response to Coalition Efforts

HB 2684 | HB 2694 | HB 3441 | HB 3687

Additional Legislation Supported by the Coalition

SB 555 | SB 626 | SB 627 | SB 628 | HJR 40 | HB 528 | HB 2556


 

HB 2684 Authored by Rep. DeWayne Burns

Status: Filed

HB 2684 addresses seven major areas of reform to the current eminent domain process.


HB 2694 Authored by Rep. Kyle Kacel

Status: Filed

HB 2694 is a stand-alone bill addressing property rights protections included in a bona fide offer. This bill would require certain information to be contained in the “bona fide” offer to allow property owners to better understand the impact of the project.


HB 3441 Authored by Rep. Justin Holland

Status: Filed

HB 3441 is a stand-alone bill addressing the valuation of easements. It would require the court to admit evidence on the price paid for privately negotiated transaction made in the absence of condemnation authority. By allowing the special commissioners to admit evidence on the freely negotiated right-of-way prices and comparable easement sales, property owners are more likely to receive fair “market value” for their property.


HB 3687 Authored by Trent Ashby

Status: Filed

HB 3687 relates to the acquisition of property by an entity with eminent domain authority by addressing changes to the following four areas:



 SB 555 Authored by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst

Status: Referred to Senate State Affairs Committee

SB 555 creates a state jail felony offense if a person enters or tries to enter private property under the the false premise that they or the entity they represent has eminent domain authority.



SB 626 Authored by Sen. Charles Schwertner

Status: Referred to Senate State Affairs Committee

SB 626 requires a condemning entity that makes a "bona fide" offer using eminent domain authority to make a second, separate offer if the entity wants to acquire other property from the same landowner for a project not relating to public use or carrying eminent domain authority. 

Occasionally, when negotiating to purchase property for public use under eminent domain, an entity will offer to purchase additional property from a property owner that may not be a part of the same project subject to condemnation. It is often not made clear to the property owner that the entity does not have condemnation authority to force the owner to sell the additional property.


SB 627 Authored by Sen. Charles Schwertner

Status: Referred to Senate State Affairs Committee

SB 627 provides a property owner, via the Landowner’s Bill of Rights and a Survey Permission Form, information of their rights relating to the survey of property by an entity with eminent domain authority.

The bill requires the following provisions to be incorporated into the Landowner’s Bill of Rights:

It also provides similar requirements in a Survey Permission Form if an entity with eminent domain authority provides a form to property owner requesting their permission to enter the property to conduct a survey. The form must clearly state that:


SB 628 Authored by Sen. Charles Schwertner

Status: Referred to Senate State Affairs Committee

SB 628 amends current statute relating to the right to repurchase property from a condemning entity. The legislation increases the number of requirements that an entity must comply with in order to prove "actual progress" towards the stated public use of an eminent domain taking.

Currently, the Texas Property Code allows a person whose property was acquired through eminent domain the right to repurchase their property if the condemning entity fails to make “actual progress” toward the public use for which the property was taken within 10 years. 

This bill requires a condemning entity to complete more actions to determine "actual progress" and narrows the list of development actions that define "actual progress."


 HJR 40 Authored by Rep. Mike Schofield

Status: Filed

HJR 40 amends the Texas Constitution to require a governmental entity that has acquired a person’s property through eminent domain to offer the property back to the former owner for repurchase if certain conditions are not met.

Currently, the Texas Constitution permits a governmental entity that has acquired a person’s property through eminent domain to offer the property back to the former owner for repurchase at the same price if the public use for which it was acquired is canceled, no actual progress is made during a prescribed period of time or the property is unnecessary for the public use.

This resolution amends the Constitution by changing the language from "may sell" to "shall offer to sell," making it required instead of permissive.



HB 528 Authored by Rep. Mike Schofield

Status: Referred to House Business & Industry Committee

HB 528 amends current statute relating to the right to repurchase property from a condemning entity. The legislation increases the number of requirements that an entity must comply with in order to prove "actual progress" towards the stated public use of an eminent domain taking.

Currently, the Texas Property Code allows a person whose property was acquired through eminent domain the right to repurchase their property if the condemning entity fails to make “actual progress” toward the public use for which the property was taken within 10 years. 

This bill requires a condemning entity to complete more actions to determine "actual progress" and narrows the list of development actions that define "actual progress."


 HB 2556 Authored by Rep. Justin Holland

Status: Filed

HB 2556 specifies that an entity with eminent domain authority must make an initial written offer to a property owner, followed by a final offer, not less than 30 days from the time of the initial offer. Presumably, the 30 day period between the two offers would allow a landowner time for thorough review of the offer and opportunity for good faith negotiation between the landowner and entity. Once the final offer is made, it prescribes at least a 14 day period for the landowner to respond to the offer.

The bill also stipulates that the entity must provide a landowner with a written appraisal by a certified appraiser with the final offer. The appraisal must include the value of the property being acquired and any damages to the landowner’s remaining property. The final offer must also include a copy of the deed or easement and a landowner’s bill of rights document.