When Mississippi voters go to the polls on Tuesday to elect a new governor and legislature, they will also be handed three ballot initiatives, including one that would restrict the state’s ability to expropriate land under eminent domain laws.
Initiative 31 would impose a 10-year waiting period on any eminent domain taking if a private property were to be transferred to another person.
At the heart of this initiative is the 2005 US Supreme Court case Kelo v City of New London. In that case, the justices ruled 5-4 that the state of Connecticut could take the home owned by Suzette Kelo and turn it over to a private developer, who wanted to put up a hotel, condos and a shopping complex.
“We’ve just looked around the country and seen what’s happening in other states and we’re just trying to be proactive,” said Randy Knight, who is leading the charge for passage of 31. “We’re trying to put out the fire before it gets here.”
Knight is a Mississippi dairy farmer and president of the state Farm Bureau Federation. The Farm Bureau is the driving force behind the initiative — taking the issue to the people after Gov. Haley Barbour vetoed two similar measures that came from the Legislature.