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The Iowa House of Representatives passed a bill that attempts to provide clarity for both landowners and pipeline companies as it relates to the constitutionality of eminent domain. House File 2664 passed 86-7 on Thursday, with seven Republicans opposed to the measure.

Republican State Rep. Charley Thomson said the goal is to correct a problem developed in light of the pipeline docket before the Iowa Utilities Board right now.

Essentially, the proposal will ensure landowners and pipeline companies can file for a declaratory action on the constitutionality of the use of eminent domain at the beginning of such a project rather than years after.

Republican State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann said the bill should deliver a message to any company wishing to condemn private property in Iowa.

“Government does not exist to make the confiscation of private property easier for you,” he said. “Government does not exist to make the confiscation of private property more financially advantageous for you. Government is not your financer nor your financial planner whose role is to make sure that everything goes smoothly for you financially. Government is not your court to protect you from ‘burdensome’ landowner protections. For those that wish to use eminent domain, expect the unexpected. Plan on us to always error on the side of constitutionally protected landowner rights.

“I have a message for those that think that the sky is going to fall if we pass landowner protections – it will not. I have a message for those that say this is going to be the end of agriculture – it’s nonsense. But most importantly I have a message for those who would choose to attempt to use their money to influence this vote, who would attempt to use their money to prevent this vote – my message is, take your money and shove it.”

Republican State Rep. Steve Holt said he has watched and listened and been deeply concerned for several years as landowners have fought to protect their private property rights. Holt said the constitution is clear on requirements for eminent domain, and it is clear the CO2 capture pipelines do not meet the constitutional requirements to trigger eminent domain.

Providing the opportunity to receive a declaratory judgment upfront will save time and resources for both landowners and pipeline companies, Holt added.

In his closing comments, Thomson reminded the chamber that justice delayed is justice denied.

“It was never the intention, as far as I can tell, of the creators of the IUB to have a process that in effect takes land from people without due process,” Thomson said. “I don’t think Iowans ever would have sanctioned such an idea.”

This issue, Thomson said, goes to the heart of Iowa.

“Land is the original asset in Iowa. It’s in our souls,” he said. “An unjust taking of land without remedy is not only irritating, it’s outrageous. Let’s give Iowans a remedy.”

Republican State Representatives Michael Bergan, Tom Determann, Chad Ingels, Brian Lohse, Norlin Mommsen, Matthew Rinker and Dave Sieck voted against the bill.



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