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E-M:/ Takings.....

Enviro-Mich message from asagady@sojourn.com

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Date: Fri, 10 Oct 1997 13:11:39 -0400
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Subject: What is "takings"?
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In response to Al Smith's recent inquiry:

Takings is a very complex subject, and unfortunately sometimes
discussions can be full of dense and highly technical legal mumbo-jumbo.
Takings bills stalled in the last Congress in the face of broad grassroots
opposition from a variety of environmental, government, religious, labor
and other organizations.  These bills would have had taxpayers pay
developers and corporations whenever any environmental or other
public safeguard limits their ability to make a profit.  In this way, takings
laws undermine a variety of protections for people and neighboring

With the latest bills, the National Association of Homebuilders has taken a
new approach:  change established legal procedures to make it easier
for developers to get to court.  After an initial permit denial and one
subsequent appeal, the developers could go straight to federal court. 

This is unwise for a number of reasons; most importantly, it takes control
away from local communities and puts local zoning decisions, for
example, in the hands of federal judges (ironic in that most of the bill
supporters are those who have traditionally criticized federal judges). 
The bills would also force federal courts to decide cases even when
there isn't have enough documented information.

A broad coalition of local and state government, labor and conservation
groups oppose the measure, as does the US Justice Dept.

Also, a bit of Michigan-specific information:

Sen. Abraham is on the Judiciary committee and did not attend the
hearing on Tuesday.  It is questionable whether he is aware that the
opposition to the bills is so broad.

On the House side, Michigan Democratic co-sponsors are:

They also need to hear from their constituents that these bills are a bad

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Nathan Arbitman, National Wildlife Federation

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