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Bill curbing eminent domain advances in state House

The North Carolina House of Representatives on Tuesday passed House Bill 8, which proposes an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution preventing state and local governments from seizing private property for anything other than a public use.

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The Constitutional amendment would further require "just compensation" to be paid to the property owner. State Rep. Chuck McGrady is a primary sponsor.

"House Bill 8 protects private property rights for North Carolinians against the practice known as 'eminent domain,'" said House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg.) "We have seen government abuse of this power all-too-often. This measure protects our citizens' ability to make their own choices about their property and codifies their rights in our Constitution."

The bill, which was sponsored by Reps. McGrady (R-Hendersonville), Paul Stam (R-Wake), David Lewis (R-Harnett), and Ken Goodman (D-Rockingham), passed the House on a wide bipartisan vote of 110-8. A similar bill passed the House last year.

"I am proud of the strong support this bill received in the House today," McGrady said in a news release. "It is a reflection of the common-sense policy that exists in this measure. North Carolinians should make the final decision about whether or not to include it in our Constitution."

If the bill becomes law, voters would decide in 2014 if they want to amend the Constitution to include the language in the bill. "Property rights are mentioned in the U.S. Constitution and the North Carolina Constitution," said Stam. "But we need to ensure that future governments cannot abuse the powers of eminent domain, and to that end, I am proud to support this measure."

The bill now moves to the Senate.