Eminent Domain For Trails?

Senate bill 1044 is getting all kinds of attention.  It is an eminent domain bill authored by Sen. Jim Guthrie, and it seeks to disallow the use of eminent domain for trails, bike paths and greenways.  Seems pretty reasonable, don’t you think?  Well many do not. The bill passed out of Committee last week and will be heard on the floor of the Senate today.

I am getting all kinds of emails asking me to vote No on this bill.  Here’s an actual example of one, with my reply:

“Dear Senator,

When 13 out of 16 people testify to oppose Senate Bill 1044 and only 3 of 8 senators on the panel vote No on the bill something is very wrong. Again, 81% testify opposing SB1044 and only 38% vote No. The numbers do not represent the people. So who are you representing, the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation or the people you are supposed to represent in Idaho? It’s not all about private property rights – public rights also need to be addressed. There could and should be a balance between the two sides.
Please work for the majority of the people not just your lobbyist.

Melissa, thanks for sharing your frustration. Each Senator in Idaho represents approx. 44,000 people. If only 16 were able to attend the hearing, should we base our vote only on those voices? Or should we vote on the principles outlined in our campaigns, and upon which people voted to elect us? I believe in personal property rights. It is not the proper role of government, in my opinion, to force someone, against their will, to give up their property for anything less than a critical community need: roads, school, hospital, etc. A bike path or trail does not measure up to that standard, and therefore I will be voting yes on S1044.

Sen. Mary Souza
Coeur d’ Alene

PS–please remember that the municipality can still negotiate with the landowner and buy the needed property, they just can’t force the owner to sell.”