Voters approve property rights amendment by wide margin
November 08, 2012
RICHMOND—Producer members of county Farm Bureaus throughout Virginia are extremely pleased that Question 1 on the Virginia ballot passed by 75 percent on Nov. 6, said Wayne Pryor, president of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
“All farmers depend on their land for their livelihood, and the amendment to Virginia’s constitution that voters approved this week will help protect their property rights,” Pryor said. “We’re pleased the General Assembly and the governor worked with us to put this amendment to a popular vote, and we’re looking forward to it going into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.”
The amendment requires all government and private condemning authorities to assure that any eminent domain condemnation is for public purposes, not for private gain. It also requires that property owners be paid fair market value for their land, limits a taking to land necessary for the public purpose, and requires compensation to landowners for lost business and access.
“The Question 1 private property rights amendment tilts the scales back in favor of the landowner” in an eminent domain dispute, Pryor said. “For many years that hasn’t been the case. Landowners can always sue to dispute an eminent domain taking or the amount of compensation, but legal proceedings take time and lots of money. Those are two things most Virginians don’t have a lot of.”
Pryor said he also is grateful for support for the amendment from elected officials and Farm Bureau members. “We have to include Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the patrons of the amendment, and of course the General Assembly for passing this constitutional amendment not once but twice” in order for it to be on the ballot, he said.
“I also want to thank Farm Bureau members and our 88 county Farm Bureaus for the grassroots work they did over the past two years.”
County Farm Bureau members mailed more than 14,400 postcards to their state legislators last winter, distributed more than 10,000 yard signs this fall and ran local radio and newspaper ads.
Pryor said he’d heard that the pace of eminent domain proceedings had picked up this fall as condemning authorities in Virginia anticipated passage of the amendment. “But this will help landowners in the future and assure that future state legislatures cannot easily strip away our private property rights,” he said.
Contact Trey Davis, VFBF assistant director of governmental relations, at 804-290-1017 or Norm Hyde, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1146.