Governor Matt Blunt (R-MO) has appointed his first property rights czar. The actual name of the position is Eminent Domain Ombudsman, which was created by HB 1944 from 2006, which followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Kelo versus New London decision that gave greater authority to states and cities in eminent domain conflicts with private property owners.
Anthony Martin, who most recently served as a prosecutor in the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in Washington, takes over the post, which he says will be used to educate Missourians on the eminent domain process and their rights under that process.
The Missouri legislation prohibits the use of eminent domain solely for economic development purposes. It also protects farmers by prohibiting the blighting of farmland for eminent domain purposes. And, it requires "just compensation" for condemned property to be determined by factors beyond fair market value, such as heritage value.
Martin hopes to have his office up and running in the next few weeks as part of the Office of Public Counsel within the Department of Economic Development. He says that while it will not be his job to stand in front of bulldozers, it will be his responsibility to advocate on behalf of property rights, to ensure laws regarding eminent domain abuse are enforced, and – most importantly – to provide Missourians with information about their property rights.