AUSTIN, Texas, June 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Texas Association of Realtors applauds Gov. Rick Perry for signing into law a bill that further tightens restrictions on state and local governments’ ability to invoke eminent domain authority to convert private property for public use.

The legislation, Senate Bill 18, requires government entities to make reasonable purchase offers to landowners for their property, allows landowners to buy their land back at the original price 10 years later if it isn’t used by then, and adds criteria that agencies must meet before declaring eminent domain over private property.

The Texas Association of Realtors has actively supported eminent domain reform for years. Chairman Dwight Hale explained, “The exercise of eminent domain, while considered a necessary tool of government by some, has been argued to have been expanded and used in improper ways by others. We commend Governor Perry for closing loopholes that have allowed for eminent domain abuses in the past and strengthening property owners’ rights for the future.”

Last session, Texas Realtors spearheaded important eminent domain reform, which included passage of Proposition 11. This year, Texas Realtors actively supported the additional protections from eminent domain abuses in many ways, including participating in the first-ever Tele-Town Hall series with state Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and organizing visits of more than 2,000 Texas Realtors to lawmakers at the Capitol urging passage of SB 18.

The push for change to the state’s eminent domain laws was triggered by a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Kelo v. City of New London) that removed several key restraints in condemnation procedures. The new legislation was one of Gov. Perry’s fast-tracked initiatives for the 82nd Texas Legislature, which ended its regular session May 30.

Chairman Hale concluded, “Private-property rights are sacred to Texans. And those rights are threatened whenever government considers an eminent-domain taking. I am proud to see our lawmakers continuing to protect those rights and keeping Texas as one of the nation’s most homeowner-friendly states in the country.”