Your land is your sanctuary. Your home is your castle. The property you possess is your tangible piece of the American Dream. So when your land, your home, or your property is threatened, the freedoms we hold as Americans are also threatened.
Our Bill of Rights backs up this great ideal. The Fifth Amendment requires “just compensation” if private land must be taken for public use. Implicit within these words is the premise that private land can ONLY be taken for public use and not for those who would take your birthright for their financial gain.
Recently, the Missouri Public Service Commission ruled that an out-of-state private company could use eminent domain to construct the Grain Belt Express. This 750-mile high-voltage power line would run through 570 private properties across the state to transfer wind power from Kansas to power grids on the East Coast. The decision by the PSC rendered landowners powerless against the intrusion onto their land by a private business – a for-profit company based out of Chicago whose source of funding traces all the way to Canada.
This decision completely disregards the Fifth Amendment. The authors of the Bill of Rights explicitly intended to keep Americans free from a tyrannical government taking what landowners rightfully own. The PSC has decided a private company can use force to pad its bottom line.
The Missouri House is leading the charge to protect Missourians property rights through HB 1062. The bill, filed by Rep. Jim Hansen of Pike County, protects landowners by rolling back this egregious decision.
This fight is personal to me. I grew up on a family farm. I graduated college in Northwest Missouri. I’ve driven Highway 36 from St. Joseph to Hannibal. I know that every acre of land matters for our Show Me State farmers and ranchers. Abuse of eminent domain like this means they can expect lowball offers, damaged land, and the destruction of their way of life. That is unacceptable.
This project should be viewed in the same light as every other business-to-business transaction that takes place in our free market system. It is government overreach for the PSC to give a private company the ability to steamroll landowners in our agriculture industry. If a for-profit company wants to acquire private property to make money, they should negotiate a deal that the landowner feels is equitable and satisfactory.
Stealing the land of Missouri families to benefit French Canadian investors is everything we hate about government bureaucracy. The Missouri House will lead the fight to protect our land, our homes, and our American Dream.
Elijah Haarhr, a Republican from Springfield, is the speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives. He received his undergraduate degree from Missouri Western State University.