State Reps. Ed
Soliday, R-Valparaiso, and Mike Aylesworth, R-Hebron, have introduced a bill
aimed at protecting and informing Hoosier communities before eminent domain
can be exercised for railroads.
1260--passed out of the House on Thursday, according to a statement released
jointly by Soliday and Aylesworth.
Before land is
placed under eminent domain for the construction of railroads, HB 1260 would
require railroad carriers to demonstrate that they will subsequently utilize
the property for the public use. “In short, the bill would require there to
be a compelling public need for the railroad to assume ownership of the
property in question,” the statement said.
“Updating laws that
have not been touched since the 19th century will benefit Indiana's private
property owners,” Soliday said. “This legislation would create higher,
enforceable standards for these entities to meet concerning eminent domain.”
legal standard is already required to exercise eminent domain in other
situations, the statement noted. “However, many elements of Indiana's
eminent domain laws concerning railroads have not been updated since the
owners deserve to know that the land they are being forced to sell to
railroads in cases of eminent domain are going to be a benefit, not a
detriment, to their community,” Aylesworth said. “To ensure the public isn't
blindsided, information should be provided that spells out the impact of and
need for a proposed rail project.”
The bill will now
go on to the Senate for further consideration.