JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A fired-up crowd cheered as political heavy weights vowed to protect private property rights and vowed to protect Missouri farms.
“I want to make sure we protect the number one industry in this state: agriculture,” Senate President Pro Tem David Schatz told the crowd.
“I want to stand with you, to support your right to personal property…Tell the government to leave you the heck alone,” said Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.
“Private property right is a principle that dates back to the founding of our country,” said State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick. “Property rights are sacred in our country and should be defended at every turn.”
The rally, held Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda, was packed with farmers, ranchers, property owners, and elected officials. In the lead up to the event, members of Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of more the 40 agricultural groups, visited with their respective representatives and argued their case on a bill set to be debate in the Missouri House.
The focal point of the rally is Rep. Jim Hansen’s HB 1062, which proposes that no private entity has the power of eminent domain for the purposes of constructing above-ground merchant lines.
Essentially, the bill is a rebuttal to the Public Service Commission approval the Green Belt Express Line which would carry power from Kansas to the east, dropping off roughly 500 megawatts of wind energy in Missouri. The line would pass through eight Missouri counties and the property of 739 Missourians.
One of the farmers in the crowd was opposed to the line because if would force him and his wife to move. His wife is a two-time cancer survivor and the proposed line would go close enough their house, her doctor recommends they move — leaving behind the land he cultivated for years.
Hansen’s bill would prevent private lines from being built by using eminent domain. The crowd at the rally gave Hansen three standing ovations.
“This is a critical issue to our state,” said Hansen. “I have been fighting this issue every since I first got elected…a private company wanting to use private land for private profit.”
House Speaker Elijah Haahr noticed a handmade sign in the crowd, that stated “Unjust, Unreasonable, Unlawful” and made a vow to those at the rally.
“We know this is unjust. We know this is unreasonable. And in 45 minutes we will go upstairs and make it unlawful,” stated Haahr.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.