Property Rights

Do We Have the WILL to KEEP Our Republic?


HB 2536 / SB 980 Endanger Harris County Property Rights

Property rights are what distinguish free men and women from serfs and slaves. It is foundational to the right of free citizens to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Though this legislation is written solely for Harris County, the danger to our fundamental American rights is such that we request the help of all Texans to fight this bill that could set the precedent for more incursions against property rights in Texas.

Attached is TPPF’s unfavorable bill analysis for HB 2536 / SB 980. It supports our position against the bill. We are opposed to this legislation for many reasons, some of which are covered in TPPF’s analysis.

HB 2536 / SB 980
Eminent domain, which is the government takeover of private property for public use, entitles the property owner to compensation, the amount of which is determined via lawsuit. Under current Texas law these lawsuits are most typically decided at the county level. This would change under the proposed legislation, HB 2536/SB 980, to allow the party initiating the condemnation proceedings to file their petition with the district court, when the amount in controversy exceeds $200,000. Under this bill, condemnors would effectively be able to choose whether their case is heard at the county court or the district without regard for the wishes or convenience of property owners.

This bill was written by those seeking to condemn property, putting Private Property Owners at Disadvantage

1. This bill allows those trying to condemn property to engage in what is known as “forum shopping” in which they can seek out the court they think will be most beneficial to their case.
2. The choice of a friendly forum for a lawsuit often predetermines the outcome, and forum shopping is one of the leading abuses in the Texas civil justice system.
3. In 1995 and in 2003 the state legislature passed reforms to address the forum shopping problem, so this legislation would be a step in the wrong direction.
4. This bill is being pushed by a single Harris County commissioner who is tired of his county attorneys losing eminent domain cases in the county court, so he is looking for another way to win by having the option of moving cases to the district court.
5. For years, these eminent domain cases have been handled efficiently and fairly by the county courts, who have developed the expertise and resources to adjudicate disputes, and there is no compelling reason for allowing district courts to hear them instead.
6. This bill would put property owners at a disadvantage in protecting their private property, by allowing those seeking to condemn a property to choose the venue without input from the property owners.
7. Eminent domain is a government action that is harmful to the rights of citizens, so it is vital that the eminent domain process be focused on protecting property rights, but this bill tilts the advantage away from those rights.
8. This bill makes it easier for government to take the private property of Texas citizens.
9. This bill could pave the way for government to take the private property of Texas citizens to build a billion dollar taxpayer-funded mass transit high speed rail system.

Kingwood TEA Party vehemently opposes this bill.