During today’s Senate transportation hearing, Hegar expressed concern that the eminent domain issue might not pass the House, and that as a last resort it should be included in the TxDOT sunset bill. The disappearance of eminent domain from the radar screen is very curious. After all, this was one of the few proposals the governor advocated in his State of the State address. What happened? Eminent domain sounds great in a campaign speech, but in practice it drives up the cost of highway construction, particularly if the language requiring compensation for diminished access is included. Eminent domain is in direct conflict with Perry’s advocacy for TxDOT. The story making the rounds is that Bonnen, as chair of Land & Resource Management, is sitting on the bill at Perry’s request. I don’t know whether this is the case, but I do know that the last two weeks in May seem to be a very unhealthy time at the Capitol and bills that seemed to be very healthy for most of the session have been known to suddenly contract fatal diseases. Obviously Dr. Hegar is concerned about the lack of life signs from eminent domain.
If eminent domain indeed fails to become law, this should be great fodder for Kay Bailey Hutchison. The jockeying for position in the governor’s race is going to develop as Perry using Washington issues against Hutchison, and Hutchison using Texas issues against Perry. This is a dangerous issue for Perry.