Eminent domain bills pass Senate

January 22, 2019

A series of Eminent Domain bills were heard last week with three passing the Senate and heading to the House to be heard.

Senator Chap Petersen introduced SB 1403 (Petersen) and SB 1404 (Petersen). SB 1403 seeks to level the playing feel when it comes to who/what the condemning entity is.  Currently, condemnors that are public service companies, public service corporations, railroads, or government utility corporations have their costs assessed differently than other parties.  SB 1403 eliminates specific provisions for these condomnors and stipulates that all costs shall be assessed in the same manner, regardless of the identity of the condemnor.  SB 1403 reported from the Senate Courts of Justice Committee by an 11-0-2 vote and ultimately passed the Senate, 37-1-1.

SB 1404 makes stipulates three provisions.  First, it provides that the costs of filing a petition with the court for the distribution of the funds due pursuant to an eminent domain proceeding shall be taxed against the condemnor. Second, it stipulates that the interest rate on the funds represented by a certificate of deposit from the date of filing of the certificate until the funds are paid into the court shall not be less than the judgment rate of interest. And third, the bill reorganizes for clarity the provisions governing what happens upon recordation of a certificate by the Commissioner of Highways in a condemnation proceeding.  SB 1404 reported from the Senate Courts of Justice Committee by a 10-2-1 vote and passed the Senate, 39-1.

Senator Mark Obenshain’s eminent domain bill, SB 1421 (Obenshain), makes a number of changes to provisions pertaining to entry upon private property in an eminent domain proceeding.  Additionally, the bill addresses how compensation for the taking of property in an eminent domain proceeding is calculated and allows a person to recover damages resulting from reformation, alteration, revision, amendment, or invalidation of a certificate in an eminent domain proceeding.  SB 1421 reported from the Senate Courts of Justice Committee by a 13-0 vote and unanimously passed the Senate.

A fourth eminent domain bill, introduced by Senator Mark Peake, was also heard by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.  SB 1039 (Peake) seeks to remove the option by a land owner in a condemnation proceeding of selecting commissioners instead of jurors to determine just compensation.  The Committee decided by a 14-0 vote to passed by indefinitely SB 1039.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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