Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation, and business leaders say restricting the use of eminent domain would only keep the state at the bottom.

" /> Business Leaders Oppose Initiative 31 and Restricting Eminent Domain | News | Mississippi Public Broadcasting
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Business Leaders Oppose Initiative 31 and Restricting Eminent Domain

By Daniel Cherry | Published 26 Oct 2011 05:30pm | comments

As election day draws closer, supporters and opponents of Initiative 31 are speaking out on eminent domain. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the initiative could impact job growth in Mississippi.

If Mississippi voters pass Initiative 31 local and state government cannot take a person's property and transfer it to another person or company for at least 10 years. Bishop Ronnie Crudup is a pastor in Jackson. He says some residents think Initiative 31 would completely put a stop to eminent domain.

"We want people to know that is not the case. This only hurts the state of Mississippi from creating jobs. Particularly if you are interested in plants such as Nissan and Toyota, high paying jobs from coming to the State of Mississippi."

Some business leaders and concerned citizens worry voters are being swayed by the nature of the emotional issue. Senator John Horhn voted in favor of a bill that would have restricted eminent domain in 2009, but now he's changed his mind and he's standing up against the initiative.

"I can only think of one case when eminent domain was imposed for a private purpose. To have this initiative on the ballot appears to me to be a solution in search of a problem. We don't have this kind of a problem in Mississippi."

Opponents of the initiative say the state needs some way to quickly get land for major economic developments. But Randy Knight, the President of the Mississippi Farm Bureau says the government shouldn't have the right to take a person's property.

"We think that deed still means something. We think there's other ways of getting economic development without taking someones property. We're all for economic development and job creation but it all begins with a willing buyer and willing seller."

If Initiative 31 does pass, government could still take property, but it has to be for traditional public uses like roads, airports, and utilities.

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