House Moves to Overturn Kelo v. New London

On February 26, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives voted (353-65) to approve the Private Property Rights Protection Act (H.R. 1944). The bill, if approved by the Senate and President Obama, would prohibit any government from using eminent domain for the purpose of economic redevelopment. The bill is a direct (if delayed) response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. New London, which I discussed at some length here. The popular politics blog, “The Hill” notes that 43 states have already adopted some measures to reduce Kelo’s impact. Unfortunately, many of these reforms have been ineffective at meaningfully reducing the possibility that eminent domain can be abused (a good place to start exploring the effectiveness of post-Kelo reforms is at the Castle Coalition). Thus, if the Private Property Rights Protection Act becomes law, it would substantially alter the constitutional landscape of takings law.

At present, the interesting question is whether the Senate will consider the bill. In the meantime, I would refer interested readers to this relevant post at The Hill. The official summary of the bill is available at congress.gov.

Senate seeks to delay NFIP reform

A recent op-ed in the Washington Post recently describes yet another delay in efforts to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In brief, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Act in 2012, which sought to remedy numerous problems in NFIP, including a five-year phase-out of flood insurance premium subsidies. Two weeks ago, the Senate approved a plan (H.R. 3370) to delay the subsidy reductions. This bill, known as the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014” will, in effect, terminate the small, first-steps that Biggert-Waters took toward eliminating (or at least mitigate) the moral hazard I described in my previous post. The bill originated in the House, but was amended in the Senate, which means it will now go back to the House for a new vote, and perhaps, further amendment. Several Representatives have expressed concern about any delays in the subsidy rollbacks. In my next post on NFIP, I’ll talk more length about Biggert-Waters, NFIP reform, and interest-group attacks on reform.

In the meantime, I would refer interested readers to the Washington Post op-ed cited above and this post at the online Insurance Journal. The official summary of the bill is available at congress.gov.