Add Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, to the growing number of Republicans and Democrats who support proposed eminent domain legislation that has concerned many local governments,.
In his weekly wrap-up, Reeves said that the constitutional amendment legislation SJ3 passed 13-2 the Senate Privileges and Elections committee with bipartisan support.
"I am proud to be a co-patron of this bill to support the property rights of Virginians," Reeves said. "This bill will amend the Consitution of Virginia to ensure private property is only taken by localities for proper public use and is a huge step forward in protecting citizens’ private property rights. This bill will reach the Senate floor this week. I encourage the public to continue to show their support for this important amendment."
The Virginia Municipal League, which lobbies on behalf of Virginia's 38 independent cities, is against the legislation, calling it unnecessary and that it could result in frivolous lawsuits and more costly public improvements. The General Assembly approve the amendment last year but Virginia constitutional amendments must be approved by two General Assemblies.
One of the main changes that has concerned local officials is the language that "just compensation must equal or exceed the value of the property taken, lost profits and lost access, and damages to the residue caused by the taking." Determining the lost profits for each take could prove to be costly and lead to litigation. Some City Council members said that this rule would only increase the cost of public infrastructure projects.
Regarding my legislation, last year a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Louisa County causing massive damage to many homes, leaving homeowners unsure and questioning whether their insurance policies included earthquake coverage. With the Governor’s support, I put forward SB369 with fellow Senator Tom Garrett, to solve this issue for future events. The bill requires insurance companies to explicitly inform policyholders whether earthquake insurance is included in their policy and if not, where they can purchase the insurance. This bill passed the Senate floor Friday with overwhelming bi-partisan support. SB 369 is an important piece of consumer protection policy that will provide Virginians with reassurance and knowledge in case of future disasters.
Protests on ID Voter Legislation
Unfortunately, this past week was not all smooth sailing. Virginia Organizing ‘organized’ a small protest in Fredericksburg against a vote I made in Privileges and Elections Committee. The group protested against SB1, claiming that by requiring valid identification to vote, groups of voters would be disenfranchised. I stand firmly by my vote, and believe that this bill offers citizens protection against voter fraud and abuse. Voting in this country is a fundamental right and needs to be protected. SB1 guarantees the integrity of the ballot process, and I want to personally thank those supporters who organized their own counter-protest to show their support of this legislation.