Virginia Candidates Debate Eminent Domain | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

Virginia Candidates Debate Eminent Domain

Play associated audio
Candidates on the ballot in Virginia next month have starkly different views on an eminent domain amendment to the Virginia Constitution.
Michael Pope
Candidates on the ballot in Virginia next month have starkly different views on an eminent domain amendment to the Virginia Constitution.

Candidates in the November election are divided over an amendment to the Virginia constitution regarding eminent domain. The amendment would allow business owners to collect money from local governments if they can prove lost profits and customer access.

Imagine the scenario -- a business owner files suit against Fairfax County because a new median prevents drivers from turning left into his restaurant. That could happen if members of the General Assembly approve an amendment that will be considered in the upcoming session. State Sen. Toddy Puller (D) opposes the amendment as an overreaction to the controversial Supreme Court decision Kelo vs. the City of New London, which broadens the power of eminent domain.

"I truly don't see us doing what happened in Connecticut," Puller says. "I really don't, and I'm not worried about it. I think we are careful about how we use eminent domain."

Jeff Frederick, her Republican challenger, disagrees. "Putting language in the constitution of Virginia prevents judicial activism from toying with people's private-property rights," he says.

Democrat Adam Ebbin, who is running for an open seat in the Virginia senate, says the amendment is flawed because it fails to define lost profits of loss of access.

"Having pieces of a constitutional amendment not defined is an invitation for litigation," says Ebbin. But Ebbin's Republican opponent, Tim McGhee, says the General Assembly can work that out later.

"When you are wrestling with the United States Supreme Court as it relates to their Kelo decision, you need as many options as you can get," says McGhee.

Some Democrats, such as incumbent Sen. George Barker, support the amendment.

"It provides an opportunity to make sure there was not an inappropriate taking of property while still providing some protections for governments and others who need it to have it for roads and those types of things," Barker says. "So I think it strikes a balance." In contrast, Democrat Gerry Hyland, a Fairfax County Supervisor up for reelection this year, says the state will end up having to pay more money when they acquire.

"We'll end up having to pay more money when we acquire properties for such things as roads and public works projects in all of Virginia," Hyland says.

Even though the amendment already passed this year, procedural rules dictate it needs to pass again next year before being sent to voters in 2012.

NPR

Why Afghanistan's 'Underground Girls' Skirt Tradition To Live As Boys

In a new book, journalist Jenny Nordberg writes about the bacha posh, young girls who dress up like boys to enjoy the freedoms of being an Afghan male for as long as they can.
NPR

Keeping Heirloom Apples Alive Is 'Like A Chain Letter' Over Many Centuries

Scott Farm in Vermont grows 100 apple varieties, some of them dating back to the 1700s. These apples may not look as pretty as the Red Delicious, but what they lack in looks they make up for in taste.
WAMU 88.5

New Anthony Brown Video Accuses Opponent Of 'Hiding' And 'Lying"

Democrat Anthony Brown unveiled a new web video today alleging that Republican Larry Hogan is "hiding" his positions on contentious issues like abortion and gun control.
NPR

Tech Week: Smartphone Privacy, Cyberstalking, Alibaba's Big Debut

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba makes the biggest debut on the NYSE ever. The details, and the other tech stories that piqued our interest, are in this week's roundup.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.