STATEHOUSE (Jan. 26, 2017) – A bill aimed at protecting and informing Hoosier communities before eminent domain can be exercised for railroads passed unanimously out of the House today, according to the bill’s author State Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso), and co-author State Rep. Mike Aylesworth (R-Hebron).
Before land is placed under eminent domain for the construction of railroads, House Bill 1260 would require railroad carriers to demonstrate that they will subsequently utilize the property for the public use. In short, the bill would require there to be a compelling public need for the railroad to assume ownership of the property in question.
“Updating laws that have not been touched since the 19th century will benefit Indiana’s private property owners,” Soliday said. “This legislation would create higher, enforceable standards for these entities to meet concerning eminent domain.”
The legal standard of a public need is already required to exercise eminent domain in other situations. However, many elements of Indiana’s eminent domain laws concerning railroads have not been updated since the 19th century.
“Private property owners deserve to know that the land they are being forced to sell to railroads in cases of eminent domain are going to be a benefit, not a detriment, to their community,” Aylesworth said. “To ensure the public isn’t blindsided, information should be provided that spells out the impact of and need for a proposed rail project.”
The bill will now go on to the Senate for further consideration.
Rep. Soliday represents House District 4, which includes portions of Porter County.
A high-resolution photo of Soliday can be downloaded by clicking here.
Rep. Aylesworth represents House District 11, which includes the southern portions of Lake and Porter counties.
A high-resolution photo of Aylesworth can be downloaded by clicking here.