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Rep. Andre Cushing (R-Hampden)
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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/12/12

Regulatory takings bill passes first test in the House

AUGUSTA - House Republican leaders said today's vote on LD 1810 marks an initial victory for Maine property owners who lose the value of their land as a result of regulations.

LD 1810 deals with so-called "regulatory takings," whereby a land use or environmental regulation diminishes the value of a property. With land seizures under eminent domain to build a road, a hospital or other public facility, property owners are compensated for their lost property value. With a regulatory taking, however, landowners have had no recourse.

"It has been a long road to get to this point, but we're encouraged that we will be able to provide farmers and other Maine landowners some relief," said State Rep. Andre Cushing (R-Hampden), who began the process last year. "We are simply asking future Legislatures to recognize that their actions can - and at times do - impact property owners' ability to use or develop their land. The process proposed in this bill lays out a pathway for reasonable resolution.

"This is not about cashing in on state regulations," he added. "In the vast majority of cases, the problem can likely be solved by granting a waiver to the regulation or some other practical accommodation."

State Rep. Joan Nass (R-Acton) sponsored LD 1810, "An Act To Implement Recommendations of the Committee to Review Issues Dealing With Regulatory Takings." The review committee was created by a bill last year by Rep. Cushing.

Under the compromise legislation that emerged from the Judiciary Committee, a landowner has a cause of action if his or her property has lost at least 50 percent of its value due to a regulation. That loss must be determined by before-and-after appraisals by independent, professional real estate appraisers.

The first step in the process would be mediation. If unsuccessful, lawsuits would be limited to challenging future state-level land use laws; all existing regulations are exempt from challenge, including local municipal ordinances and all regulations dealing with health, safety and nuisance matters. In the event of a suit, this bill would cap damages at the state tort level of $400,000.

Today's 74-72 vote, following an extensive floor debate, sends the legislation to the Senate, which will consider the measure tomorrow.###

Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445