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Virginia Eminent Domain Amendment Passes, Along With Veto Session Scheduling

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved two amendments to the state constitution.

The first makes it harder for the state to take private property for commercial purposes.

The second gives the General Assembly flexibility in scheduling the start of the annual "veto" session so that it does not coincide with a religious holiday, such as Passover.

The eminent domain amendment requires that the government take private property only for a public use and not give it to another private landowner, such as a developer, even in the case of job creation. Exceptions would include utilities or the elimination of a public nuisance.

The amendment ensures that property owners whose land is taken are properly compensated and guarantees that no more property is taken than is necessary.

Opponents said the Virginia General Assembly approved such restrictions legislatively in 2007. Proponents said such protections should be in the Virginia Constitution.

The state constitution now requires that the veto session -- in which the legislature considers a governor's proposed amendments to bills and vetoes -- must begin on the sixth Wednesday after the end of each regular General Assembly session.

The amendment allows the General Assembly to delay the start of the veto session for up to one week.

acain@timesdispatch.com (804) 649-6645 ___

(c)2012 the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.)

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