Lawmakers hear plan to roll back eminent domain


POSTED: 9:25 AM Feb 06 2013
HELENA, Mont. -

Montana lawmakers are considering a bill that would remove some eminent domain powers granted by the 2011 Legislature.
Senate Bill 180 would repeal the authority of a public utility or developer to condemn private property to build pipelines or power lines. Lawmakers passed that bill after a judge ruled in 2010 the Montana Alberta Tie Line developer did not have the right to use eminent domain.
Bill sponsor Sen. Debby Barrett says nothing is more important in Montana than private property rights. The Dillon Republican asked the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee to approve her bill.
NorthWestern Energy spokesman John Fitzpatric says eminent domain is needed to build lines to get electricity or gas to customers.
The committee did not take immediate action.