Barbour's veto of eminent domain upheld by state senate

Published: Mar. 26, 2009 at 8:13 PM CDT
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By Jon Kalahar

The stage was set for a possible first in the six years Haley Barbour has led Mississippi. At no time has a Barbour veto been overridden by the state legislature. As the state senate took up a bill to strengthen eminent domain, that possibility still existed.

"On March fifth, house bill 803 51 senators voted for this exact same bill that we are debating today," said Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, (D) Brookhaven.

That was before the Governor vetoed the bill saying it would hurt job creation in Mississippi and hurt the possibility of big projects like Toyota and Nissan from coming to the state again. Still the pressure was on those to override the veto.

"Not only could you never come to this podium again and say I protect private property rights, you're still gonna have to say I changed my vote to vote against private property rights," said Hyde-Smith.

But the possibility of passing a bill that might further hinder development in areas that so desperately need jobs was enough to sway some senators.

"Though many people hated gambling that when the casinos came to the Delta, it provided jobs people in the Delta never ever had the opportunity to get," said Senator Johnnie Walls, (D) Greenville.

In the end, the two thirds needed to override the Governor fell seven votes short.

"By a vote of 28 yeas and 22 nays the motion has failed. The Governor's veto has been sustained by the senate."

But that may not fully kill the measure.

"What we've gotta do is find a bill that is going to protect property rights and we believe we can do that while at the same time allowing our economy to move forward," said Blake Wilson, president, Mississippi Economic Council.

"We believe nobody has the right to take your property except for a true public use and we're going to attempt to define a true public use in the constitutional amendment," said David Waide, president, Mississippi Farm Bureau.

Barbour has said he will bring eminent domain back before the legislature in a special session. He says this time with economic development measures included.