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Introducing the Property Rights Protection Act of 2019

As soon as I get back to Washington this afternoon, I’ll be filing a new bill called the Property Rights Protection Act of 2019. It’s not complicated, but let’s get a few definitions out of the way first…

An “endangered species” is one that faces extinction unless action is taken to save it. Meanwhile, a “threatened species” is not endangered, but has seen some decline in recent decades and could possibly become endangered at some point in the future.

Everyone agrees it’s important to protect both threatened and endangered species. (Obviously.) In this endeavor, however, it’s far too easy for the government to run roughshod over private property owners. My bill will help fix that.

Let’s say you own land – farming, hunting, timber, the use doesn’t matter – and the government determines that a threatened species lives on part of that land. (Not endangered, just threatened.) Currently if that happens, government bureaucrats can designate your property as a “critical habitat” and impose SEVERE restrictions on its use. All this with little oversight into whether those restrictions would actually help the species, and with very little recourse available to you, the property owner. That’s not fair.

So among other provisions, my bill would prohibit a critical habitat designation by the government unless either (A) the land owner consents, or (B) the Secretary of the Interior certifies that there is endangerment of extinction without such a designation. In this case, the government would purchase that land at 150% of its fair market value.

Let’s be clear: I’m not saying that threatened species don’t need our attention. (In fact, nobody’s saying that.) However, that there needs to be a more equitable way to treat property owners who find themselves in this type of situation. This legislation will be an excellent step in that direction.