In a 113-5 vote Tuesday afternoon, the N.C. House passed a bill to prevent government from seizing property for private development.
The goal is to ban eminent domain in cases where government seizes property only to sell it to a private developer. The bill would require that all property seized be for "public use."
"The eminent domain bill marks this session's first bipartisan effort by the House to protect the citizens of North Carolina," House Speaker Tim Moore said in a statement, adding that it creates "a more accountable process to achieve just compensation for property."
If approved by the state Senate, the proposal would go before voters as a constitutional amendment on May 3, 2016. But the bill's prospects in the Senate are uncertain. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Chuck McGrady, filed similar legislation two years ago, and it passed the House 110-8 before stalling in the Senate.
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Moore told reporters he's optimistic about the bill's chances this year. "It's a new session," he said. "As you've seen before, there's bills that have failed for years and years, they've come back and we agree it's right for it to pass."
House members voted down an amendment from Rep. Larry Pittman, a Concord Republican, to add clarifying language to the bill. "The strength of the amendment is its brevity," McGrady said.