Judge takes eminent domain under review - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Judge takes eminent domain under review

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HINDS COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Arguments over eminent domain played out in a Hinds County courtroom Monday morning after Mississippi businessman Leland Speed, who's also the state's development authority director, filed suit against the secretary of state, looking to take the measure off the November general election ballot.

"This is a solution looking for a problem that doesn't exist," Speed said.

Speed, acting as a private citizen, says the state doesn't have a problem with eminent domain abuse and says the initiative will change the state's bill of rights and shouldn't be done through a voter initiative process.

Supporters of the initiative disagree.

"It doesn't not prevent any taking, it just limits what they can do after the taking," said David Waide who helped spearhead the initiative, sponsored by the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.

Waide said it would only put a ten year hold on property taken by the government before it can be transferred to a private entity, excluding property needed for infrastructure improvements.

"The government has a right to take it for a true public use and we have not attempted to change that true public use taking," Waide said.

Speed says if that happens future economic projects would bypass Mississippi.

"This will be a tragedy if this is adopted. This will kill jobs," Speed said.

There are three initiatives set to go before voters in November, the others are voter identification and a person hood amendment which is also wrapped up in court.

Those in support of the eminent domain measure say those citizen driven initiatives are just as important as the ones which come out of the legislature.

About 120,000 Mississippians signed their name on the eminent domain petition and Waide says it should be up to the voters.

"Enough Mississippians signed it to get it one the ballot and we feel really confident Mississippians want to be heard on this issue," Waide said.

It's an issue which Speed says shouldn't be an issue since there are no victims.

"Once in a while in Mississippi we get it right and this is one of those times we have actually got it right now, we don't need to change anything," Speed said.

Circuit Judge Winston Kidd took arguments under review and is expected to make a ruling by the end of the week.

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