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House Rejects Restrictions on Eminent Domain

The House overwhelmingly defeated a proposal today that would've prevented the use of eminent domain in some profit-making development projects. Missy Shelton reports from Jefferson City.

Democratic Representative J.C. Kuessner of Southeast Missouri offered his amendment to a bill that changes the law that provides tax breaks for developers of certain projects, like shopping centers.

He proposed taking away the ability of cities and counties to use eminent domain in conjunction with developments that take advantage of tax breaks, known as tax increment financing.

The House overwhelmingly rejected his amendment...Kuessner called it a test vote on eminent domain restrictions.

Those who opposed the amendment say eminent domain is necessary to keep down the cost of some projects, especially in suburban areas.

Republican Representative Bob Johnson of suburban Kansas City sponsored the bill that Kuessner tried to amend...Johnson says eminent domain has been necessary with some tax increment financing projects in his area.

The representative who proposed limiting eminent domain says he understands that in some cases, eminent domain may be a necessary tool in suburban areas.

But Representative J.C. Kuessner says he has to represent his constituents in rural Southeast Missouri...He says they oppose the use of eminent domain for projects.

Those who voted against Kuessner's amendment say lawmakers will have a chance to address concerns about the use and abuse of eminent domain.

Republican Representative Bob Johnson says eminent domain and tax increment financing need to remain separate issues.

Johnson's bill that addresses tax increment financing includes a provision that he says attempts to define the term blight.

He says there have been cases where properties were declared blighted, were basically condemned just so a developer could take advantage of tax increment financing.

Attempting to define blight is a concern for some in the business community.

Jim Anderson is President of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

He says there aren't many tax increment financing projects in the Springfield area but he says he's concerned about efforts to create a statewide definition of blight.

The bill that deals with tax increment financing faces a final vote in the House before it can move to the Senate.