Senator Guglielmo Calls Senate Vote on Eminent Domain “Disappointing”

June 28, 2005

State Senator Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, today said that he is disappointed that the Senate failed to adopt an amendment he co-sponsored that would have prohibited the seizure of homes through eminent domain for the purposes of private economic development. Sen. Guglielmo said he was particularly discouraged that today’s 22-11 vote comes only five days after the U.S Supreme Court’s ruled that local government agencies do have the ability to seize homes for such purposes.

“It’s very disappointing that we could not get this amendment adopted here this evening,” said Sen. Guglielmo. “There is not one issue that I can recall in my 13 years in the state Senate that does not do more to threaten the individual rights of the people we represent. To say that we will allow for the seizure of homes for private economic development purposes is nothing short of outrageous and something I never thought could be possible.”

“We had an opportunity to protect the basic right of every citizen in this state to own property,” said Sen. Guglielmo who said that he has received a great deal of correspondence on the issue. “I’m not sure right now that people understand the severity of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, but eventually they will and when they do there will be a lot of angry people.”

Sen. Guglielmo reiterated that the seizure of property through eminent domain should be infrequent and that the law was created specifically for vital public works projects such as transportation, telecommunications and other utility projects, not for economic development purposes. “Last weeks ruling says that any city or town can take individual homes away from people and turn them over to private developers as long as the municipality can simply make a case that the property will be used for economic development purposes. Based on our state’s track record of municipal economic development ventures it makes today’s vote even more disappointing.”

According to Sen. Guglielmo, the Supreme Court ruling will have the greatest affect on low-income homeowners. “Developers want to make money, they aren’t going after expensive property, they are going to go after property that they can turn a profit. So I do find it to be discriminatory. However this issue is not about money, it is about protecting the precious right of homeownership. It’s that simple.”