Here's the text of an email I received today. Californians, read and act accordingly:
Tomorrow, August 30, the California Judiciary Committee will vote on Senate Constitutional Amendment 15 (SCA 15), the Homeowner and Property Protection Act. If it becomes law -- through a vote by the legislature and a vote by the general public -- this amendment will protect all home and business owners throughout the state from the abuse of eminent domain for private commercial development. It is crucial that the Committee approve the amendment so that the full legislature and the people will have a chance to enact it. If you are interested in the plight of California home and small business owners, it’s vitally important that you contact the members of the Judiciary Committee today and urge them to approve SCA 15.
SCA 15 requires that property taken by eminent domain be owned and occupied by the government entity taking it. It continues to allow condemnations for public utilities and railroads but otherwise flatly prohibits eminent domain for the benefit of private parties. This is the best legislation in the entire country to address the problem of eminent domain abuse that has been introduced since the Kelo decision. If enacted, it will not only protect Californians, but will also serve as an important reform model in other states. There is competing "moratorium" legislation that is being touted by some as a significant reform, but that bill only protects owner-occupied residences, and thus leaves thousands of people vulnerable to eminent domain abuse. Churches, small business owners and tenants, including families who are long-term residents of apartments and other rental homes, will find no protection under the moratorium bill. There are also other proposed constitutional amendments that the committee may consider, but these leave the door wide open to eminent domain abuse.
Please contact the members of the Judiciary Committee as soon as you can and tell them that you support SCA 15 and that it, not the "moratorium" bill or other watered-down constitutional amendments, is the way to accomplish real reform of eminent domain laws in California. SCA 15 has a strong chance of being passed in a vote by the general public; it should not die in committee.
The contact information for the Committee members is here: http://www.senate.ca.gov/ftp/sen/committee/STANDING/JUDICIARY/_home1/PROFILE.HTM
Joseph Dunn, Chair: 916-651-4034
Bill Morrow, Vice-Chair: 916-651-4038
Dick Ackerman: 916-651-4033
Gilbert Cedillo: 916-651-4022
Martha Ecutia: 916-651-4030
Liz Figueroa: 916-651-4010
Sheila Kuehl: 916-651-4023
The text of the amendment is available here: http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/bill/sen/sb_0001-0050/sca_15_bill_20050823_amended_sen.pdf
If you are in Sacramento, the meeting is open to the public and we’d urge you to attend it as well -- and be sure to wear any t-shirts or stickers opposing eminent domain abuse. It will be in Room 4203 of the State Capitol Building.
Call today and have your voice heard. We thank you for your help.
Castle Coalition Coordinator
Institute for Justice
1717 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20006
Castle Coalition: www.castlecoalition.org
Litigating for Liberty: www.IJ.org