June 28, 2005

Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore John McKinney (R-Fairfield) today called for the state legislature to convene in special session to address the issue of placing limits on eminent domain powers in Connecticut. The Supreme Court recently ruled that towns have the right to condemn homes under eminent domain law for economic reasons considered to be in the “public good,” but states can still establish their own guidelines for limits on this power.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling has caused a great deal of concern among the residents of Connecticut, and it is my belief that the legislature needs to act immediately to correct what amounts to a frightening imbalance of eminent domain powers,” said Senator McKinney. “There is nothing stopping the legislature from convening this summer to address this issue – it only requires our will to do what’s right.”

Prior to calling for the special session, Senator McKinney sponsored an amendment to restrict eminent domain claims against privately owned homes if the resulting project is privately owned or controlled. The amendment was defeated on the floor of the Senate by a largely party line vote, with the majority party citing concerns about addressing the issue late in the session. Senator McKinney argued that the eminent domain ruling required immediate attention from the legislature, and that prior public hearings on the issue had provided the legislature with more than enough input to make a vital first step towards protecting residents from abuses of the power.

“I don’t believe we should be in the business of taking a family’s home away from them for private interests,” said Senator McKinney. “I don’t believe we should say that corporate needs or private development needs trump individual rights. We need to take a stand now, and make it clear that in Connecticut the government will not have the power to seize your home and give the land to private entities that promise towns more tax dollars.”