Eminent Domain Measure Endorsed by Senate

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The state Senate has given initial approval to a plan to allow private utilities the power of eminent domain.

House Bill 198 carried by Rep. Ken Peterson would give businesses the government power to take private land for public use.

It was endorsed by the Senate Tuesday on a 28-22 vote. If it passes a final vote, the bill will go to Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

The measure had been tied up in a committee for months before it was resurrected earlier Tuesday.

Utility companies say they need eminent domain to continue major projects across the state.

Critics say the measure takes away landowner rights.

Pressure has been mounting at the end of the session to force legislative action on one of the biggest issues of the session.

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