Floridians to Consider Amendment 8: Private Property and Eminent Domain

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One of the proposed constitutional amendments on the Florida ballot next month would make it tougher for local governments to seize private property by claiming eminent domain.

Amendment 8 would make it even harder for city or county governments to take your private property using the so-called Doctrine of Eminent Domain.

Bob Sanchez at the Conservative James Madison Institute supports the plan. He says without constitutional protections, who knows what future lawmakers might go along with in the name of economic development. He explains, "Even if your home was perfectly well-maintained and a model home, if the neighborhood had homes that had problems, they could seize everyone’s property."

However, opponents argue Florida already has some of the toughest laws in the country to protect property rights.

So, why do we need to mess with the state constitution?

The legislature passed a law this year to restrict eminent domain, partly in response to efforts to condemn a Riviera Beach neighborhood and turn it into waterfront development.

That’s why many local officials like Leon County Commissioner Cliff Thaell do not believe Amendment 8 is necessary. "Constitutional amendments should only be attempted in situations where the legislature has failed,” he says. “In this case, the legislative process worked."

However, the specter of big brother may be more persuasive than reality. Thirteen states are considering ballot measures this fall to provide additional property rights protections.

Voters will consider six proposed constitutional amendments this election.