Victoria Cobb, President
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Give Props to Property Rights
While voting for federal offices next Tuesday, there will also be two constitutional amendments that Virginians will be deciding, both of which are supported by The Family Foundation Action.
The most significant, Question 1, will protect private property from abuses by the government’s power of eminent domain. The government’s power to take property for “public use” was expanded by the Supreme Court in 2005 to include as a public use things like increasing tax revenue, a threat not only to private landowners but also to churches and religious institutions. After all, religious organizations like churches don’t pay property taxes. Replacing those buildings with strip malls or Wal-Marts that pay taxes and feed local coffers is a temptation some local government officials simply can’t control. In addition, government often doesn’t compensate landowners for their actual financial loss when their property is seized or access to their property infringed.
To address this, after years of debate and effort, the General Assembly this year finally passed legislation putting a property rights constitutional amendment on the ballot. While support for property rights is strong, a coalition of organizations that support property rights, including The Family Foundation, the Virginia Farm Bureau, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and others, are working to make sure Virginians understand how important it is to support this crucial ballot initiative.
For years, the government has been undercompensating Virginians when their property is seized by eminent domain, leaving citizens with no recourse. Some politicians and groups opposed to Question 1 have argued that it will end up costing taxpayers more money for projects like road construction, which is a tacit admission that the state has been ripping property owners off for years! The truth is that property owners should receive just compensation when their property is seized or affected by these projects.
If those aren’t reasons enough, just know that many newspaper editorial boards and the Democrat Party of Virginia have come out opposed to the amendment. The Staunton News Leader’s opinion piece ridiculously calls the amendment nothing more than “another emotional, red meat issue, to rile voters.” Our fundamental right to private property to these people has become “red meat.” Of course, they’d probably say the same thing about religious liberty.
The biggest obstacle to the amendment’s passage is not being aware that it’s on the ballot. When most people hear about it, they want to vote for it. The more people who know about it now, the more likely it will pass, so please share this information. Click here for more about the amendment and to hear a radio ad in favor of the amendment from our friends at the Virginia Farm Bureau.
The protection of property rights was a principle critical to our Founders’ vision of America. Unfortunately, as with many of our founding principles, it’s up to the citizens to remind government that we still believe in and want those principles to be enforced.
Vote Yes! on Question 1 next Tuesday.
Paid for by The Family Foundation Action and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.