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Summary: Under current law, a private pipeline company can apply for common carrier status which grants the company the power of eminent domain for their pipeline. To obtain common carrier status, the company simply signs a form from the Railroad Commission. HB 2748:
Analysis: This legislation represents a good faith effort to require that decisions about common carrier status be based on evidence. While we support some provisions of the bill we have reservations about others. This legislation would support limited government by setting a higher barrier of proof for private pipeline companies to demonstrate that they should have common carrier status. However, this bill offends private property rights by not giving sufficient opportunity for property owners to contest an eminent domain action.
Private property rights are a founding pillar of our nation. While we recognize that eminent domain may legitimately be used for public purposes, we believe that option should only be exercised in rare circumstances and always as a last resort. The authority to exercise eminent domain must be given judiciously, particularly when that authority is given to a private entity. Due to the conflicts between our principles, we are neutral on this legislation.