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Turmoil Over "Takings": How H.R. 1534 Turns Local Land Use Disputes Into Federal Cases

February 1998

Citation: ELR 10083

Author: Sharon Buccino

While the Republican's Contract With America has disappeared from the political landscape, many of its ideas continue to percolate in the 105th Congress. Development interests continue to promote federal legislation to expand opportunities for "takings" claims against the government. Through such takings claims developers or private landowners seek to be compensated for not polluting or not building on protected land. Frustrated with the limitations courts have placed on takings claims, developers have sought through legislation at both the federal and state levels to thwart the government's ability to restrict individual property use for the public good.

The fight over takings legislation was one of the most heated of the last Congress. Former Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.) introduced a bill, S. 605,1 that was even more extreme than the takings language passed by the House of Representatives as part of the Contract With America. Dole's bill would have required taxpayers to compensate businesses for lost profits, as well as land restrictions, resulting from health and safety regulations. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill, but Senate leaders were never able to gather the support to justify bringing it to the floor for a vote.

Ms. Buccino is Legislative Counsel for the Natural Resources Defense Council. She received her law degree from Stanford Law School and clerked for Justice Allen Compton of the Alaska Supreme Court.