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Protecting landowners

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Lawmakers during the next legislative session must focus on reforming the eminent-domain process to better protect Texas landowners.

For six years, state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, has fought to secure more rights for property owners when their land is condemned by governments or private companies to build oil or gas pipelines, highways or even sewer systems.

While they’re paid fair market value, the law doesn’t go far enough.

During the 86th Legislature this year, Kolkhorst’s intent was to level the playing field.

Her most recent bill mandated public meetings between landowners and industry groups, and ensured no more lowball offers. Another revision would have restored seized grounds.

A watered-down version pitched by the House thankfully didn’t pass.

In Texas, owning land is right up there with mom and apple pie. Property owners who face seizure in the face of “progress” or the “public good” deserve just treatment.

Although 2021 seems distant, it’s never too early to defend the rights of Texas landholders.

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