87th Legislative Session Priority Bills
In Texas, condemnation is an unfair process for landowners. Reform is needed to improve the transparency, fairness, and accountability for property owners.
Eminent domain reform is supported by the platforms of both the Democratic and Republican parties in Texas.
During this 87th Legislative Session, more than two dozen bills were filed to improve the eminent domain process. Below are the priority bills Texas Landowners for Eminent Domain Reform supported:
HB 901 Burns (See similar HB 2730 which passed)
HB 901 affects only private entities given eminent domain authority. This bill: a) provides basic easement terms to impacted property owners regarding a private entity’s project; b) provides an evidence-based valuation of a landowner’s property along with damages to the remainder conducted by a licensed real estate broker or certified appraiser; and c) adds new requirements regarding a special commissioners hearing.
SB 986 Kolkhorst Not Passed
SB 986 affects only private entities given eminent domain authority. It a) provides basic easement terms to impacted property owners regarding a private entity’s project; b) provides an evidence-based valuation of a landowner’s property along with damages to the remainder conducted by a licensed real estate broker or certified appraiser; and c) requires entities to hold informational meetings with affected landowners on the details of a project. The bill also provides for an ombudsman to help answer landowners’ questions and requires right-of-way agents to be licensed.
HB 37 Zwiener Not Passed
HB 37 would transfer the approval of a permit for certain intrastate oil and gas pipelines to the Public Utilities Commission from the Texas Railroad Commission. The routing of the permit must meet certain conditions and jurisdictional requirements or be denied.
SB 721 Schwertner/HB 2041 Leman Passed
SB 721/HB 2041 state that a condemning entity shall disclose to the property owner any and all existing appraisal reports produced or acquired relating specifically to the owner’s property at least 3 days before a special commissioners’ hearing, if an appraisal report is to be used at the hearing.
SB 722 Schwertner Not Passed
SB 722 provides that a condemning entity shall disclose to the property owner any and all existing appraisal reports produced or acquired relating specifically to the owner’s property in the last ten years preceding an offer. Failure to do so will make the condemner liable for attorney fees to the owner in connection with the acquisition of the property.
SB 723 Schwertner/HB 2042 Leman Not Passed
SB 723/HB 2042 provide property owners additional information about their rights in the negotiation of a survey and other related provisions with a condemnor. Requires a condemning entity to make a separate and clearly identifiable offer for additional land needed that is not related to property acquired through condemnation.
SB 724 Schwertner Not Passed
With SB 724, if damages awarded through the special commissioners’ hearing or through an appeal to the courts is 20 percent or more than the condemnor’s final offer, the condemnor shall pay all related attorney and professional fees incurred by the property owner in connection with the eminent domain proceeding.
HB 1506 Zwiener/SB 1842 Eckhardt Not Passed
Both bills are similar in language stating that if there is an objection to the award after a Special Commissioner’s hearing, then a private entity cannot take possession of the property until after 180 days of the commissioner’s award if there is pending litigation.
HB 4107 Burrows Passed
This bill provides that a common carrier pipeline shall make a good faith effort to negotiate the siting of a pipeline or incidental facility on a property owner’s land. This bill also provides for the negotiation of a survey and the repair or remediation of any damages should they occur during this process.
SB 725 Schwertner/HB 2043 Leman Passed
SB 726 and HB 2043 would require that if additional property taxes are imposed due to the diversion of property for nonagricultural use, then the property taxes are the responsibility of the condemning entity, not the property owner.
SB 726 Schwertner/HB 2044 Leman Passed
These bills would strengthen the current statute to allow a landowner the right to repurchase property if the condemning entity does not meet a sufficient number of conditions to prove “actual progress” is being made toward the stated public use of a taking within a ten-year period.
HJR 92 Schofield Not Passed
This bill would also provide a landowner or his heirs the right to repurchase property if certain conditions are met through a constitutional amendment.