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Eminent domain bill passes committee  

Credit:  By KARL PUCKETT, Tribune Staff Writer, Great Falls Tribune, www.greatfallstribune.com 27 January 2011 ~~

A bill clarifying that private power line builders and public utilities have the power to take private land for transmission lines and other public projects easily passed the state House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications Committee on Wednesday.

The bill is opposed by landowners in the path of the Montana Alberta Tie Line, a power line under construction between Great Falls and Lethbridge, who argue that a private company from another country shouldn’t have the authority to condemn land here.

The bill states that public utilities and companies that receive permits under the Major Facility Siting Act, such as MATL developer Tonbridge Power Co. of Toronto, can take private land for public use.

The bill next heads to the full House.

“That’s the way this thing has been couched over and over again,” he said.

Skees, who said the bill should have addressed compensation for landowners, and James Knox, R-Billings, voted against the measure.

The vote was 14-2.

Nine Republicans and five Democrats voted in favor of the bill.

Source:  By KARL PUCKETT, Tribune Staff Writer, Great Falls Tribune, www.greatfallstribune.com 27 January 2011

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