Friday, November 2, 2012

Support the VA Property Rights Amendment

This Tuesday, Virginians will have the important opportunity to enshrine Property Rights as a fundamental right in VA.  There are a couple FAQs to know about the Property Rights Amendment.
Q. What are my property rights? Why aren’t these enough? 
A. Currently, Article I, Section 11 of the state Constitution provides that “just compensation” must be paid when property is taken or damaged for public use. But the current Constitution leaves it to the Virginia General Assembly to define “public use.” Accordingly, government officials in Virginia have been able to confiscate property for uses that are not truly public (such as economic development). And when they do take land, they have been able to force property owners to accept less as compensation than what they are losing.
Q. Why is the proposed Property Rights Amendment better?
A. It does three things to stop government overreaching when it takes land, and from underpaying property owners. First, it clarifies that government can take private property only when the land will be for projects the public will actually use (such as transportation and schools – not private projects that will only benefit developers) – it makes the words “public use” mean what they say. Second, it will end the systematic shortchanging of Virginians who lose their business to a condemnation or see their property’s value severely diminished when their highway access is cut off. And third, it enshrines the right of private property ownership as a fundamental right, recognizing that it has the same status in the eyes of the law as the rights of freedom of speech or religion. 

You should also watch this video from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on why this is an important issue.

Two other great resources for learning more about the amendment are from the VA Family Foundation, and Mark Obenshain-the senator who sponsored the amendment. Remember, when you go to vote, don't stop with the elections.  Make sure you Vote Yes on the first amendment on the ballot.

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