Missouri law would protect producers during eminent domain case for utilities

The Missouri House of Representatives has given initial approval to eminent domain legislation that would protect agricultural land values for utility projects.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Mike Haffner of Pleasant Hill, says the legislation levels the playing field for producers. “These farmers and ranchers keep coming in and they plead with us to make sure that they don’t want their farmland taken away and condemned. But they’re asking us if you’re going to force us to lose our land, please make sure we’re getting a fair market value for that.”

Under the bill, compensation for agriculture or horticulture land would be 150-percent of fair market value determined by the court.

The legislation is in response to the building of a power transmission line across eight Missouri counties called the Grain Belt Express Line.

State Representative Michael Burton, a Democrat from St. Louis County, opposes the bill and says the project makes Missouri energy independent. “It’s going to connect us to a grid so we don’t end up like other states like Texas during their cold snap or during natural disasters. We are plugged in and I believe this is the way of the future and what you’re trying to do is to stop that.”

The bill would also require that any electrical utility building transmission lines must provide a minimum of 50-percent of its electrical load to Missouri customers to be allowed to condemn property.

One more vote in favor of the plan would send the measure to the Senate.

Audio courtesy of Missourinet.

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