From Eric Dondero:
Sounding like something straight out of an Ayn Rand novel, a renewable energy corporation out of Canada is pushing legislation to allow for seizure of private property rights in Eastern Montana. The Bill pits small landowners such as ranchers in Eastern Montana, against government-backed corporate interests and many environmental groups in support of renewable energy.
From the Great Falls Tribune "Montana Senate revives eminent domain bill":
HB198 would grant private developers — including Canadian developer Tonbridge Power — the ability to use eminent domain authority to condemn private property so that transmission lines can be built.The company wants to build a 214-mile international Tie Line through Montana and Alberta.
The bill would [give] Tonbridge the authority it needs to condemn private property along the proposed MATL route in Montana.Dem Gov. Schweitzer; history of siding against Property Rights
The legislation pitted one Republican against another.
After nearly three hours of debate, 16 Democrats sided with 12 Republicans to pass the measure.
Republican proponents of the measure, including Olson, said if the Legislature failed to enact HB198 it could doom the state's economy.
"We need an export economy in this state," Olson said. "We make money to fund our education system, and we make money to fund our senior services on an export economy. If a minority interest is going to shut down an export economy, if we continue to circulate that same stale dollar around the state, we're done.""Corporate Socialism"; Big Business in bed with Big Government
Opponents of the measure, including Sen. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, said the bill would give private corporations unprecedented power, while sacrificing the rights of private property owners.
"It's corporate socialism at its best," Wittich said.Wittich (photo - top right) is quoted in USA.edu:
The Republican legislator was elected to the senate for the first time this past November.The Bill goes for a final vote on Thursday. Then, it heads to Democrat Governor Brian Schweitzer for his signature. It is not known if Schweizter would sign the legislation. Though, Schweitzer fought to keep a property rights initiative against eminent domain, sponsored by the libertarian group Americans for Limited Government, off the 2006 ballot.
Wittich serves as vice chair of the senate’s Local Government committee and is also assigned to the Fish and Game and Taxation committees.
He says key issues currently facing Montanans include balancing the state budget during a recession and balancing private rights and liberties with the public good.
“To me, good government is limited government that respects everyone’s rights and properties,” Wittich says. “I support accountability in government spending and promoting private sector prosperity by adding value to our resources.”