Hansen: bill blocks eminent domain for power line project

By State Rep. Jim Hansen

We enjoyed a successful week at the Missouri State Capitol this past week as the bill I sponsored, House Bill 1062, was perfected, third-read, and passed by a vote of 115 to 35 in the Missouri House of Representatives. On Tuesday, April 16, supporters of the important legislation gathered from across the state for a tremendous rally that was held in the first floor rotunda of the State Capitol. The attendees consisted of concerned Missouri residents, constituents of the 40th District, and various groups such as Missouri Farmers Care, Farm Bureau, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Cattlemens Association, and Missouri Corn Growers.

Various speakers addressed the large and enthusiastic crowd to highlight the importance of HB 1062 including Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, Senate President Pro Tem David Schatz, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Senator Caleb Rowden, Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr, and of course, myself, the sponsor of the legislation.)

And as hundreds of concerned landowners gathered in the State Capitol this week to rally in support of their property rights, my colleagues and I in the Missouri House of Representatives took action to prevent the misuse of the state’s eminent domain law. House members approved my bill that would specify that a private entity cannot use the power of eminent domain for the purposes of constructing above-ground power lines.

The bill comes in response to the proposed Grain Belt Express transmission line that would carry power generated by wind turbines in Kansas across Missouri to other states in the Midwest and neighboring states. The 750-mile line would run across eight northern Missouri counties – Buchanan, Clinton, Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Randolph, Monroe and Ralls – and would deliver a portion of the power it transmits to utilities and customers in Missouri.

In March the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a request made by Grain Belt Express to construct the high-voltage transmission line. As a result of the decision made by the PSC, developers would have the authority to utilize the power of eminent domain to obtain easement rights from landowners who are unwilling to sell.

The legislation I sponsored and approved by the House would prevent the use of eminent domain for the purpose of constructing the Grain Belt Express transmission line. The bill is important to prohibit private companies from using eminent domain to maximize their profits for a project that will provide little benefit for Missouri consumers. They say less than 12 percent of the electricity carried by the transmission line would be sold to Missouri consumers.

As I told my colleagues, “The issue here is this is a private company wanting to use private property for private profit.”

House Speaker Elijah Haahr said about the bill, “As someone who grew up on a family farm, I care deeply about the rights of landowners. The idea of government – an unelected quasi-government body at that – telling one private owner to share their land and follow unreasonable regulations for another private company is a violation of the core beliefs this country was founded on. Private property rights are a cornerstone of our freedoms and the framers of our constitution knew from their experiences that when private property rights are not protected, our freedoms are at risk.”

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson has also issued a statement in support of private property rights.

“I am a firm believer in protecting individual freedom and rights of private property owners, especially our farmers and ranchers,” Parson said in a written statement to The Associated Press. “We will continue to stay engaged with the legislature to ensure that we are equipped to protect all Missourians from potential threats of government overreach for private gain.”

I would like to thank everyone who came to support House Bill 1062 this past week at the Missouri House. We could not have accomplished these successes without your committed support. As the bill moves to the Senate, I encourage you to continue to stand up for private property rights. Again, thank you!

Recommended for you