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Tim Sandefur on California Proposition 99 - the Deceptive Eminent Domain "Reform" Initiative:

Tim Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation has an excellent post detailing some of the dangers of Proposition 99 - the deceptive California eminent domain "reform" initiative that purports to protect property rights against takings but actually undermines them. Prop 99 is sponsored by the California League of Cities and other government organizations that seek to retain the broadest possible condemnation authority for themselves.

I wrote about some of Proposition 99's other flaws here. The great danger posed by Proposition 99 is that nonexpert voters will understandably assume that it really does protect property owners, without realizing that it will actually undermine their rights by 1) offering no real protection and 2) blocking implementation of Proposition 98, a ballot proposal that really would give property owners protection against the kinds of takings authorized by the Supreme Court Kelo v. City of New London. Even if Prop 98 and Prop 99 both pass, Section 9 of Prop 99 would negate Prop 98 so long as Prop 99 gets more votes than 98 does. Understandably, even relatively well-informed voters could easily be fooled by Prop 99.

I have written an entire article on the ways in which state governments have used political ignorance to block meaningful eminent domain reform, as well as many other works on ignorance more generally. And I have to give credit to the sponsors of Prop 99 where credit is due: This is the most skillfull attempt to manipulate voter ignorance on the eminent domain issue that I have ever seen. In most cases, efforts to exploit political ignorance in this field simply take the form of passing off cosmetic measures that don't really constrain takings as effective ones that do. They portray efforts to do nothing as efforts to do something. Prop 99 goes one step further. It actually dresses up a proposal that would undermine property rights as an effort to protect them.

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