Posted: Feb 8, 2013 8:54 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - Lawmakers voted their conscience Thursday as they debated a highly controversial eminent domain bill.
Senate Bill 180 passed out of committee in a 7-6 vote, denying merchant transmission lines the right to use eminent domain, which is the authority to take private land for public use.
The vote was not partisan, with some senators clearly troubled by the decision. Chairman Alan Olson (R-Roundup) was one of six members voting against the measure.
"It's one of those very nasty provisions that conjures up visions of my God I am going to lose the farm. But if you want any kind of development, you have to be able to move the energy. That's all there is to it."
Lawmakers gave merchant transmission lines and public utility companies the right to use eminent domain during the last legislative session.
This session there is a push to undo that legislation, and Senate Bill 180 now heads to the full Senate for a vote.