Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Cuccinelli says $36 mill eminent domain costs now borne by landowners
In the General Assembly, it’s not every little subcommittee meeting that can lure the Attorney General.
But Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli showed up at 6 p.m. at a House Courts of Justice subcommittee Wednesday night to defend a bill.
The bill in question provides for compensation for lost profits and access in eminent domain cases, and Cuccinelli is passionate about making it tougher for governments to use eminent domain to take private property.
The bill — from Del. Johnny Joannou — also now has a hefty price tag — $36 million a year, the estimated cost to state agencies for paying out claims for lost profits and access if the bill is passed.
Cuccinelli wanted to make sure the subcommittee understood exactly what that dollar figure meant. The bill might cost the state money, he said, but that money is the amount now being lost by landowners who aren’t fully compensated when their land is taken by state agencies.
“Those are costs that are already being absorbed today and our agencies have imposed on the citizens of Virginia,” Cuccinelli said. “These costs are now being borne by individual landowners, individual business owners, across Virginia… It’s morally wrong. This fixes that.”
If the legislature doesn’t pass the bill, he said, those costs will still exist.
“You will have left them on the backs of a small number of Virginians,” he said.
Afterward, Cuccinelli told reporters the fiscal impact statement was “an admission by Virginia’s government that that is how much money we are taking from Virginia’s citizens every year.”
The subcommittee eventually agreed to suggest the bill be reported and referred to the House Appropriations Committee.