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SB 145: Legislature to Consider DFP 80% Agreement for Eminent Domain

KELO-TV is crowing that their coverage of the GEAR UP scandal prompted lawmakers to propose tightening our state conflict-of-interest laws. Yeah, yeah, but have you and your viewers ever written a bill?

Go look at Senate Bill 145, introduced yesterday by Senator Jason Frerichs (D-1/Wilmot):

Section 1. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:

If the Public Utilities Commission is required to approve a permit for a project proposed by a public utility or carrier and the permit has not been granted, the public utility or carrier may not exercise the power of eminent domain for the project until the permit has been approved.

Section 2. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:

No public utility or carrier may exercise the power of eminent domain for a project unless at least eighty percent of the landowners voluntarily allow an easement for the project.

Eminent domain… eighty percent… déjà vu…

Section 1. That Chapter 21-35 be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:

Any non-governmental entity seeking to use eminent domain to take property and/or property rights for any purpose from five or more landowners within South Dakota for a single project must submit to the court written proof that at least 80% of landowners who will surrender property and/or property rights for the project have voluntarily signed binding contracts to sell their property and/or property rights to the entity seeking eminent domain authority. Absent this written proof, the court may not consider the eminent domain petition.

Section 2. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:

If any party presents credible evidence that the non-governmental entity seeking eminent domain used duress or deception to obtain consent from any member of the 80% of landowners consenting to the project, the court shall reject the non-governmental entity’s petition for eminent domain [“Dakota Free Press Bill #1: Restricting Eminent Domain in South Dakota,” Dakota Free Press, 2016.01.10].

80% landowner agreement to invoke eminent domain—that’s DFP Bill #1, as called for by you, dear readers, in our New Year’s poll on things you’d like the Legislature to do!

Senator Frerichs didn’t visit with me about DFP Bill #1 before introducing SB 145, and he doesn’t have to tell the press we influenced him the way Rep. Mark Mickelson tells Angela Kennecke her reportage influenced his bill-making, because Jason Frerichs isn’t buttering up the media for gentle coverage to prep for a run for Governor in 2018.

But there it is, a key provision, at least: A Dakota Free Press bill in the real hopper! Good idea, readers!


  1. grudznick 2016-02-04

    Bloggers are writing bills for the Senate minority leader. Mr. H, you have almost unlimited power now. We can only hope you wield your puppet judiciously.

  2. Paul Seamans 2016-02-04

    TransCanada was fond of telling the media that they obtained 100% of their easements from willing land owners. Obtaining just 80% should be easy.

    TransCanada was able to obtain the power of eminent domain simply by declaring that they are a common carrier. Cory, please write up another bill to correct the ability of pipelines to so easily obtain condemnation power.

  3. MD 2016-02-04

    Jason Frerichs is the moderate type democrat that would be great in the Governor’s seat, and even better to help bolster the democrat party in SD. I always enjoyed voting for him, and I always appreciated his speedy, considerate replies to my emails.

  4. Rorschach 2016-02-04

    The bill should say “the owners of 80% of the land to be utilized.” Or something to that effect. As written, 80% of the landowners may potentially own far less than 80% of the affected land. Might not make a difference though, because land grabbers would have to find a lot of willing easement grantors either way.

  5. bret clanton 2016-02-05

    bloggers didn’t write this bill Grudz….but one blogger has done a very good job of drawing attention to the issue…

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-05

    Good point on language, Ror! At the very least, the SB 145 should specify which landowners. But I wonder: suppose a project crosses 20,000 acres and 16,000 of those acres are owned by two big corporations, or maybe by a couple big land barons like Ted Turner, and the other 4,000 acres are owned by 2,000 small ranchers and other landholders. The developer gets the two big land barons to say o.k. to the project. That’s 80% of the land affected. Should those two landowners be able to subject 2,000 others to eminent domain?

  7. Paul Seamans 2016-02-05

    I’ll be willing to accept the bill based either on number of landowners or on length of the project. As it now stands property owners are at the mercy of whoever is doing the condemnation. When is the last time anyone has heard of a property owner winning their case in a court of law.

  8. Flipper 2016-02-05

    On a related note, the KELO TV weather people are also taking credit for keeping the heavier snow to the south and east of Sioux Falls on Groundhog Day.

  9. mike from iowa 2016-02-05

    Don’t know if any Dakota people have won in court,but in Texas,where dumbass dubya wanted to build a fence along the border with Mexico,the gubmint took what they wanted from peons and then ran headlong into trouble with wealthy people and had to change the route of the fence.

    Apparently fancy golf courses and private billionaire holdings don’t look so good with a large fence running through them. Here is a snippet of the report and problems caused. In Granjeno, Texas, DHS originally planned to build an 18-foot high fence
    or wall through the property belonging to Daniel Garza—74-year-old retiree
    born and raised in Granjeno33. There were reportedly no plans to build the
    fence through the next-door property belonging to Dallas billionaire Ray L.
    Hunt and his relatives.34 Instead that property has been designated for large
    scale profitable development and agriculture undisturbed by the construction
    of the fence. There was no explanation from the United States as to why
    security concerns disappear on Mr. Hunt’s properties. Mr. Hunt is reportedly
    a close friend of President George W. Bush, and recently donated $35
    million to Southern Methodist University to help build President Bush’s
    presidential library. In 2001, President Bush made him a member of the
    Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, where Hunt received a security
    clearance and access to classified intelligence.35

  10. Porter Lansing 2016-02-05

    In my little town eminent domain and tax increment financing must now pass a public vote. (Boy did the Republicans grind their teeth when we passed this law last cycle) As you note requiring a percentage of the land owners isn’t a valid measure of the impact to a state and can be manipulated by large land tycoons.
    PS … private investment in town business has increased not decreased since we no longer give land and tax breaks away at the council’s whim or graft.

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