Thursday, February 2, 2012

Property Rights in VA's Constitution? Only with your help.

February 2, 2012

"The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.

Dear Friends and Fellow Virginians,

One of the major efforts that I and many Republicans and Democrats have been pushing in recent years has been to get Property Rights enshrined in Virginia's Constitution.   After all – Patrick Henry, James Monroe and George Mason voted AGAINST the US Constitution in Virginia's constitutional convention in June of 1788 because it did not include the protection of property rights and other individual rights.

The right to own and use your property as you see fit is among the most basic elements of liberty – from the time of our Nation's founding to the present. 

And, given Virginia's role in the founding of this nation, it is absolutely astonishing that we still don't have property rights protected in our Constitution.  AND, even though we are well on our way to fixing that problem – we still have a long way to go. 

To recap, here are the four areas that the Amendment would change:

The first is ensuring that proper damages are awarded to people whose property is taken.

The second is requiring government entities (or utilities) taking property to prove that it's going to be put to a true public use.

The third is limiting those entities from taking any more property than is absolutely necessary for the achievement of the public use.

And finally, the fourth issue is to stop Kelo-type takings (do you remember the Kelo case?) where the declared 'public use' is simply to increase the tax base or spur economic development by taking property from one private landowner and turning it over to another private landowner to develop.

So – where does the property rights amendment stand now?

On Tuesday, the Privileges and Elections committee in the Senate voted 13-2 in favor of the bill, which is wonderful!

It's good to see a bi-partisan majority supporting a fundamental right, like the right to property.  

Wouldn't it be nice to see that more often??

Click here to track the status of the bill in the Senate, and see who has voted for/against it.

This coming Monday, the companion bill will be voted on in the House of Delegates. 

For this bill to be successful – we need to make sure it gets out of committee.  There is a strong concern that this bill could be redirected to another committee – where it would likely go to die.

We need your help to make sure that doesn't happen!

Can you help us make sure that the bill gets out of committee by calling your legislator and asking him/her to support HJ3?

To see if your member of the House of Delegates is on the Privileges and Elections committee click here.  Their contact information can be found here.

Again:  The constitutional amendment for property rights is likely to be voted on in committee this coming Monday, February 6th.

Please make sure that your member of the House of Delegates supports putting property rights in Virginia's Constitution and plans to vote for HJ3 this coming Monday, Feb 6th.

Thanks so much for your help!  We'll keep you updated on this important fight as it progresses. 


Ken Cuccinelli II
Attorney General of Virginia 

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