House overrides eminent domain veto

By Jon Kalahar - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - A bill passed overwhelmingly by state lawmakers to limit the taking of public property through eminent domain was vetoed by Governor Haley Barbour Tuesday morning.

He says it puts the state at a disadvantage to create new jobs and economic growth. But the bill still has a chance to pass.

A full gallery greeted state representatives as they debated whether to override Governor Haley Barbour's veto of a bill to restrict eminent domain. One onlooker was J.B. Brown.

"My people were here early on, the land is sacred to us," said Brown, a Stone County land owner.

Brown agrees the government's ability to take or buy private property should be limited to certain projects.

"We believe in the public good, yes, bridges, schools, roads, as we always have been. Stennis was created through eminent domain because it was for the public good," said Brown.

Governor Haley Barbour vetoed the bill because he believes it will keep big job creation and economic impact projects like Nissan and Toyota from choosing Mississippi.

In his veto statement, Barbour said:

"If a legislator wants to hurt job creation in Mississippi during this recession and forever after, a vote to override this veto is the best way to achieve that terrible outcome."

Most state lawmakers believe otherwise.

"Now if you want to tell me about Stennis and we'll never be able to do Stennis again and we'll never be able to do Tombigbee, that's just not true," said Rep. Mark Baker, (R) Brandon.

"Now I don't want Walmart's rear end on my place under any circumstances, period. Certainly not by taking, certainly not by eminent domain," said Rep. Steve Holland, (D) Plantersville.

The House voted to override the Governor's veto by a vote of 99 to 20. The Senate is expected to take up the override later this week. The Senate passed the bill the first time with no votes against House Bill 803.

After the House vote Tuesday, Governor Barbour released the following statement:

"Today's House vote on eminent domain is disastrous for job creation and economic development in Mississippi. In the debate on the House floor, it was said job creation is not the Legislature's job. Well, the House vote today is certainly a vote against job creation. If House Bill 803 had been the law then, Nissan, Toyota, and many other major employers would not have located in Mississippi. I urge the Senate to vote for jobs and to sustain my veto of House Bill 803."

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