Montana Land-Grab Provokes Opposition
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 3:33 pm | By Grant Morgan

Landowners and Activists groups have begun to organize opposition to the expansion of eminent domain power passed last week by the Montana State legislature. The new law, HB 198, permits privately-owned utilities to use eminent domain power and to condemn private property in order to build transmission lines. The law has been challenged in two court cases. The first case deals with a 214-mile-long transmission line for a wind farm in Northern Montana. The landowners initially won a ruling in December of 2008 that said that a private utility did not have the right to invoke eminent domain. However, that initial ruling occurred before the passage of the new law, which appears to overturn it. A second legal challenge, filed on Friday, contests the constitutionality of the expansion of eminent domain power.


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PROTECT IP Act Introduced in the Senate
Friday, May 13, 2011 4:10 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

Yesterday, Senators Leahy, Hatch, and Grassley introduced the PROTECT IP Act, a bill that would target “rogue sites” that facilitate and profit from the illegal distribution of intellectual property. This bill is a follow-up to Leahy’s COICA legislation, which passed unanimously out of committee last year but failed to reach the Senate floor for a vote. The legislation offered yesterday presents major improvements from COICA and generally lays out a more balanced approach to fighting online infringement.

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Billions Wasted Annually on Unused Property
Thursday, May 5, 2011 5:15 pm | By Katerina Bricker

Each year, billions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted due to property the federal government owns, but does not use. The U.S. government is currently the nation’s largest property owner, with assets estimated at more than 900,000 buildings and structures. There are approximately 14,000 buildings and structures that are designated as excess and thousands more that are underutilized.

In order to streamline the sale or demolition of excess property, President Obama has submitted a plan to Congress that would create an independently commissioned Civilian Property Realignment Board. It is estimated that the plan would save taxpayers $15 billion over the first three years after the Board is fully up and operational.
The White house has created an interactive map that highlights over 7,000 of the underused properties the U.S. government owns. You can view it by state and see how many properties the government owns along with the type of structure it is, the name of the structure, the use of the building, and the size of it. In the District of Columbia, it lists 5 properties as being unused and in the state of California a staggering 1,151 properties are listed.
The White House defines excess properties to be an assortment of things, ranging from office buildings to labs to storage sheds and warehouses. It is basically what is deemed by an agency as no longer needed for mission or program performance. Once they are categorized as “excess,” these buildings can be offered up to other federal agencies or just abandoned.
The federal government owns about 30 percent of all U.S. land, which accounts for more than 650,000,000 acres. Most of this land is deteriorating or in complete disarray due to lack of maintenance. The land needs to be sold off as quickly as possible because when it is owned by the government it limits the access for recreation, mineral exploration, farming, and a lot more traditional uses.
The Property Rights Alliance recently wrote a letter to the members of the House in support of Obama’s plan and to urge members of congress to take Obama’s plan a step further and include land that is no longer in use or needed by the government. To read the letter in its entirety click HERE.

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