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August 03, 2007
Attorney General McKenna announces first meeting of Eminent Domain Task Force

OLYMPIA…Attorney General Rob McKenna announced today that the Eminent Domain Task Force will hold its first meeting Tuesday, August 14.  The meeting will be in the Chief Sealth room at the Attorney General’s Seattle offices from 9am to Noon. 

During the 2007 legislative session, Attorney General McKenna spearheaded a bill dealing with the issue of eminent domain. In most cases in Washington, a government agency was not required to notify a property owner of a pending open public meeting at which it will be decided whether to take his or her property by eminent domain.  Under the legislation passed during the past session, local governments are required to directly notify potential owners when such actions are being considered.

The issue of aggressive home acquisition by eminent domain was highlighted in the United States Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London. The Washington State Constitution prohibits the use of the power of eminent domain to condemn private property for private use.  Further, the authority is reserved for the courts to determine what constitutes a public use.

Despite the struggle with eminent domain issues there has been much work to curb abuse. For example, the Washington Policy Center and the Institute for Justice released a study on the potential for eminent domain abuse in Washington in January. The study highlights real property owners’ experience with the abuse of eminent domain. The study also addressed Washington courts’ failure to hold local governments to strict standards. McKenna called for the creation of the Eminent Domain Task Force following the 2007 legislative session. 

“There are still many issues to discuss in the issue of eminent domain,” Attorney General McKenna said. “This task force will allow us to further study eminent domain, identifying problems and possibly suggesting legislative reform.” 

The task force plans to hold three meetings prior to the 2008 legislative session and will provide a report that may be used in drafting legislation.

Members of the task force include:

Attorney General Rob McKenna (Chair)
Assistant Attorney General Tim Ford (Co-Chair)
Senator Adam Kline
Senator Mike Carrell
Representative Jay Rodne
Representative Lynn Kessler
Bill Maurer, Institute of Justice
Keith Phillips, Office of Financial Management
Assistant Attorney General Bryce Brown
Mayor Mark Lamb, City of Bothell
Leo Bowman, Benton County Commissioner
Paul Guppy, Washington Policy Center
Randy Bannecker, REALTORS
Barbara Lindsey, One Nation United
Craig Johnson, Rancher
Carol James, Cascade Land Conservancy
Philip Bereano, Professor Emeritus at University of Washington
Deputy Mayor John Chelminiak, City of Bellevue


Media Contact: J. Ryan Shannon, Media Relations Manager, (360) 753-2727

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