Washington Farm Bureau files Property Fairness Initiative
OLYMPIA, WA - 2/22/06 - --Washington Farm Bureau filed final language with the Secretary of State’s Office today for a Property Fairness Initiative that would require state and local government to compensate landowners when regulations "damage the use or value" of private property.
Washington Farm Bureau President Steve Appel, a Whitman County wheat grower, presented a copy of the initiative to Secretary of State Sam Reed, who spoke this morning during the organization’s annual Legislative Days in Olympia.
Washington Farm Bureau is a 35,000-member general farm organization representing family farmers and ranchers.
Appel said requiring government to compensate landowners when rules and regulations unduly restrict use of private property should encourage lawmakers and regulatory agencies to act with restraint.
"We understand there are times when government must regulate land use," Appel said. "But government should exercise that power prudently."
Appel pointed out that the Washington Constitution already states, "No private property shall be taken or damaged for public or private use without just compensation having been first made."
"Our state constitution requires that property owners be treated fairly," Appel said. "Our Property Fairness Initiative would require that state and local governments follow the constitution."
The initiative would also require that state and local government identify any "actual harm or public nuisance" that proposed regulations are designed to stop or prevent, identify how those regulations would affect property owners, and to first explore "voluntary programs with willing property owners" to address the problems.
"Our Property Fairness initiative would require government to identify a problem before it proposes a solution, and to understand the impact that its actions would have on property owners," Appel said. "Who can argue with that?"
Washington Farm Bureau filed the framework for its initiative on Jan. 24. The board of directors, representing 23 county and multi-county Farm Bureaus across the state, approved the final language this week.
"We are a grassroots organization and our members have been very involved in helping us craft an initiative that addresses real problems with the way government damages property values through unfair and excessive regulations," Appel said. "We believe we have an initiative that even non-property owners will see is reasonable and fair."
Farm Bureau will need to gather about 235,000 signatures by July 7 to place the Property Fairness Initiative on the ballot in November.
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