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ST. PAUL – On April 6, the Minnesota House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved two pieces of legislation that have drawn significant interest over the past few months. State Representative Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) supported both measures.
The first bill deals with restricting eminent domain by specifically defining when local governments may seize an individual’s land.
“This process had been expanded following a U.S. Supreme Court decision which allowed governments to take private property for economic development purposes,” Gunther said.
The bill gives a specific definition of “public use.” It would limit eminent domain to property that will be owned by the government, used for the functioning of public service corporations – like utilities or railroads, or to remedy blighted, environmentally contaminated or abandoned land.
“The key to this bill was to protect property owners,” Gunther said. “But it was also important to raise the bar for local governments looking to utilize eminent domain, while keeping the process workable and manageable. I believe this bill creates that balance, and will not hinder future economic development opportunities for cities and counties.”
The second bill would bring a football stadium back to the campus of the University of Minnesota. The bill, which some have labeled the "land-for-stadium'' legislation, allows the state to buy nearly 3,000 acres of environmentally-sensitive land in Dakota County for $9.4 million per year over 25 years and permanently preserve it. The University of Minnesota would then use this money to help pay long-term debt on a 50,000 seat football stadium. The land deal also allows the University to reduce the amount it had planned to charge students to contribute to stadium costs
“This bill allows the state to get something in return for its stadium investment,” Gunther said. “In exchange for the stadium, the state gains some valuable land and will be able to protect it for future generations.”
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