Cedar Falls, IA – Congressional candidate and State Representative Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls) announced today that he will be cosponsoring two bills in the Iowa House to strengthen the private property rights of Iowa farmers and landowners. Rogers also announced his opposition to the use of eminent domain for the forced ”taking” of land rights for the proposed “Rock Island Clean Line” power line project.
“Private property rights are critically important to our way of life, and nowhere is this more true than in Iowa. Many farmers in my district live and work on land that has been in their family for generations, and they want to allow their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to continue to farm that land and feed the world,” said Rogers. “Our laws must adequately protect their property rights.”
Rogers is cosponsoring two pieces of legislation to address existing problems with eminent domain law. The first, which Rogers is cosponsoring with Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) and Rep. Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford), would require that any company seeking the ability to use eminent domain to forcibly acquire land rights for a power line project provide a significant portion of the power transmitted to customers in Iowa. One of the complaints about the Rock Island project is that the power generated will be used for customers in Chicago and points east, rather than benefiting Iowa customers.
Rogers said, “While the Rock Island project looks good on the surface, some of the details are problematic. The most significant problem many farmers have with this project is that it runs a power line right through the middle of their property – sometimes right next to the front yard of their house – potentially without their consent. The project itself may have some merit, but the developers need to work with landowners to purchase easements voluntarily, rather than using government-backed force to simply take the land rights they want.”
The second bill, which Rogers is cosponsoring with Rep. Kaufman, would clarify that eminent domain in Iowa may only be used for a “public use” purpose. Iowa law currently allows eminent domain to be used for other purposes, such as taking land to create privately-owned recreational lakes or amusement parks. The proposed legislation would clarify that developers of such projects would have to purchase land through voluntary negotiations with landowners rather than through eminent domain and condemnation.
Walt Rogers was first elected to the Iowa House in 2010 by defeating an incumbent Democrat. Rogers was elected by his colleagues as an Assistant Majority Leader during his first term; he currently serves on the Appropriations, Education, Economic Growth, Administration & Rules, and Transportation committees. He was reelected in 2012 to represent the new House District 60.
Rogers has been married to Jenny for 33 years; they have three children and seven grandchildren. A graduate of Waterloo Columbus High School and the University of Northern Iowa, Rogers grew up in Waterloo and currently resides in Cedar Falls. Iowa’s First Congressional District consists of 20 counties in central and northeast Iowa.