February 2002

Phone: 843.670.3996


2002-2004, South Carolina Statehouse Report. Published weekly during the S.C. legislative session. South Carolina Statehouse Report is a media project of The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.

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1.08: Property rights moves forward slowly
(Week of Feb. 26, 2002)

FEB. 22, 2002 - - A proposal under increasing scrutiny behind the scenes is a sweeping property rights measure that would give property owners more alternatives if they felt their property's use had been "taken" by the government.

The so-called takings legislation, a proposal by Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, would allow property owners to sue government agencies for putting "inordinate burdens" on their property. Under the proposal, an administrative judge would determine whether regulations were a burden, but a jury would determine damages.

While the proposal isn't on any formal committee agenda, property rights proponents and land management advocates are meeting to work out a compromise plan that would change the process to make it more acceptable to all. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the measure in coming weeks.

The U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment ("nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation") protects citizens from actual takings of land by the government. But property rights advocates say they feel local government rules, regulations, zoning and planning are increasingly restricting their enjoyment of their property. They say they aren't able to do as much with it as they want because zoning laws are putting an inordinate burden on property uses. Therefore, they say, part of their property has been taken from them and the government should pay. Right now, about all they can do is sue the government for remuneration, but it's a long and costly process.

Land planning advocates say it's necessary for governments to steer and manage growth to control sprawl and poor development. Without the ability to zone and manage growth, a shopping center could be located next to a factory that spews noxious fumes. They say the current proposal (S. 528) would expose local governments to millions of dollars of potential lawsuits and would curb their abilities to do an effective job of managing land.

Both sides are working on a compromise that would provide for a more taxpayer-friendly, responsive process in which taxpayers and governments would attempt to mediate disputes without costly court actions. If mediation didn't work, the opposing sides could move to the courts - which is what they do now anyway.

With the bill just starting to pick up steam, it might be too late for passage into law this year. If not, look for this to be a major bill in the next session.

11/3: Use your vote wisely: a lesson
10/27: SC GOP to keep control of House
10/20: Black voters may be secret weapon
10/13: Talk is cheap; action takes courage
10/6: Creating sunshine to dampen negative ads
9/29: SC Set to be world leader in news research
9/22: SC Senate shift could be around corner
9/15: Gov's race about barbs, ads, not people
9/8: Shorfall may cause look at prison alternatives
9/2: Revitalize your patriotism by participating
8/25: S.C.'s fiscal situation could be a lot worse
8/18: State wetlands policy needed
8/11: The bully vs. the whiner
8/4: Noah's Ark approach to tax reform
7/28: Two-party system could be political outcome
7/21: State budget woes loom for 2 more years
7/14: Agencies can do better job on Internet
7/5: Thank a guardsman today for service
6/28: Hodges-Sanford race will be wild ride
6/21: Sanford-Peeler race's impact on GOP
6/14: Ethics reform needed now

More done than you'd think(1.23)
More education $ also means cuts (1.22)
PSC reform to come, but when?(1.21)



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