• Make your votes count
American citizens have responded strongly to a 2006 US Supreme Court decision (Kelo v. City of London) that allowed a city to seize private property by eminent domain.
Voters in numerous states have obtained enough signatures to place strongly worded measures on state ballots that will either curb or outlaw the use of eminent domain.
In addition, many of these measures will require state and local governments to provide just compensation for any new government regulations that restrict the use of private property or otherwise devalue private property.
A sampling shows measures will be on the ballot in numerous states to provide just compensation for new regulations, to prevent seizure by eminent domain, or both, in California (Proposition 90), Washington (Initiative 933), Idaho (Proposition 2), Arizona (Measure 207), Nevada (Nevada Property Owner’s Bill of Rights) and Montana (Initiative 154).
Oregon voters already passed a measure that requires compensation for government regulations, but a new initiative (Measure 39) seeks to prevent a government body from condemning private property if the intent is to convey that property to another private entity.
Please check your ballot and be sure to vote in the General Election on November 6, 2006.
• Court tells Forest Service many access fees are illegal
A federal court in Arizona has told the Forest Service that it can no longer collect user fees for many activities, with implications for hundreds of collection programs across the US.
In this particular case, a hiker was issued citations on two separate occasions for failure to pay a $5 access fee when parking on public lands administered by the Forest Service in the Mt. Lemmon area of Arizona.
The court ruled that the Forest Service was unlawfully charging for general access. Magistrate Judge Charles Pyle stated the Forest Service could only charge fees to citizens who use fully developed parking sites with amenities or fully-developed campgrounds. The judge ruled the Forest Service does not have the authority to collect fees for use of trails, for parking along roads, or for undeveloped, minimally developed or semi-developed sites. The agency is also prohibited from charging for camping at undeveloped sites.
The case is US v. Christine M. Wallace.
• Kensington update
Coeur d’Alene Mines has to negotiate another curve in the road for its Kensington Mine project after the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction that halted some of the construction necessary for the project.
Environmentalists appealed a lower court decision that allowed the company to place waste rock in Lower Slate Lake northwest of Juneau, Alaska.
The injunction applies to cutting trees, building roads or dams and altering the water level of the lake, and will remain in place until the appeal runs its course. Construction of the mine and mill will continue.