Pennsylvania is considering legislation that would limit Kelo-style takings:
The idea that one taxpayer's property can be taken by government and turned over to another private person for non-governmental purposes is outrageous," said state Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola, R-Dauphin.
He is sponsoring legislation to restrict municipalities' rights to take property by eminent domain. Similar legislation by Rep. Thomas Yewcic, D-Cambria, is in committee.
At least 35 other states are considering similar bills.
Stumping for Mr. Piccola's bill yesterday were Sens. John C. Rafferty Jr., R-Montgomery, and Patricia H. Vance, R-Cumberland; and Rep. Glen R. Grell, R-Cumberland, who is introducing identical legislation in the House.
Under their plan, municipalities could seize property under certain circumstances — for example, to remove blighted structures that are beyond repair and unfit for habitation or use. Municipalities also could take unoccupied properties that have been tax delinquent for more than two years, have been abandoned by their owners or have liens totaling more than 150 percent of fair market value. Municipalities could condemn an entire area if more than half of the properties within it are eligible for seizure.
"The use of eminent domain to destroy an established and unblighted neighborhood of homes and businesses to make way for shopping malls, office complexes or other private development is unfair and contrary to good public policy," Mr. Piccola said.
Critics oppose the legislation for the standard reasons.
The article notes that Kelo itself had little effect in Pennsylvania, which has long been on the national forefront of taking private land for commercial development. John Tierney memorably catalogued Pittsburgh's record in using the eminent domain power for private commercial in a column in the New York Times in the days before it was invitation-only (Lynne Kiesling posted a brief excerpt from Tierney's column here when it first appeared).