Thursday, July 14, 2005

His Eminence's Domain

The Texas Legislature has taken a swift and decisive stand on the issue of eminent domain (in light of the recent controversial Supreme Court ruling). The Senate and House are moving quickly to curtail the government's power to seize property unless:

1. A local government needs to build a much-needed road or utility line

or

2. A multimillionaire sports team owner wants a new stadium with more luxury suites.

The Senate exempted the Dallas Cowboys' planned new stadium in Arlington from SB 62, its version of the eminent domain restrictions. If that sounds familiar, it should. In the early 1990s, George W. Bush and his Texas Rangers ownership group used Arlington's eminent domain power to seize land for the Ballpark at Arlington--a project that made Bush a millionaire. It also launched Bush's career in politics as a small-government, pro-property-rights conservative. Rich, ain't it? If you've forgotten the details of this ploy (that Jerry Jones would do well to read up on), check out Robert Bryce's Observer story from 1997.

With that in mind, perhaps Sen. Kyle Janek was saying more than he intended during Wednesday's Senate floor debate when he commented, "We are changing this because this can be abused and has been abused."