JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House passed a bill that would put control of eminent domain issues in the hands of local officials Thursday.
HB 527, sponsored by Rep. Mike Haffner, would require projects seeking approval for a merchant line — such as the Grain Belt Express project — to provide the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) with a resolution of support from the commission of each county it would pass through.
The bill would also restrict projects, excluding those operated by an electric cooperative or a nonprofit, from constructing above-ground transmission lines using the power of eminent domain.
- The Missouri Farm Bureau praised the move, calling it a “bold stand supporting property rights.”
- “Eminent Domain must be reserved for truly public uses, and today’s vote by the House puts us one step closer to strengthening our property rights in Missouri,” Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins said in a statement. “We call on the Missouri Senate to pass this legislation without delay.”
- “For several years in a row now legislation has been filed aimed at preventing dozens of Missouri communities from obtaining clean, affordable power from the Grain Belt Express project,” Beth Conley, a spokeswoman for Grain Belt parent company Invenergy said. “Each time it has failed, and this time will be no different.”
- The bill was the subject of a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee that lasted more than four hours last month. Landowners along the Grain Belt Express project line testified passionately on both sides of the issue, with some lamenting the condition of their land while others pointed to the economic benefits to the community.
- The bill was third read and passed by a vote of 123 to 33.
This story has been updated.