By Carten Cordell Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA—Gov. Bob McDonnell is moving ahead with a plan to amend the state’s constitution to provide eminent domain protection for business owners.
McDonnell signed four bills into law Monday that move the question to voters, who in November will decide whether business owners affected by eminent domain projects can sue for lost wages and damages caused by lost access to their property.
“Protecting the liberty and property of its citizens is a fundamental role of government, and this constitutional amendment makes those protections stronger in Virginia,” McDonnell said in a statement.
Two of the bills, HB 5 and SB 240, were crafted to amend the state’s constitution, while HB 1035 and SB 437 defined the terms of lost profits and lost access, laying guidelines of compensation for each.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli Cuccinelli, who will be campaigning for governor next year, was instrumental in the proposed amendment, which he said marked the culmination of a seven-year battle.
“A property rights amendment to Virginia’s constitution is the ultimate protection,” he said in a statement. “Virginians need, and voters will finally have a property rights amendment to vote on in the November ballot.”
The Supreme Court ruled in the 2005 case, Kelo v. New London, that governments could seize private property if resulting development benefits the public good.
The proposed amendment will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. If passed, it will go into effect Jan. 1.