Representative Ben Leman joins Texas Legislators to protect private property rights against Texas proposed high-speed rail project.
State Representative Ben Leman and ten other Texas legislators filed an Amicus Curiae letter requesting a review in the case of James Fredrick Miles v. Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure, Inc. and Integrated Texas Logistics, Inc.
He was joined by State Senators Lois Kolkhorst, Charles Schwertner, and Brian Birdwell, and by Representatives Cody Harris, Cecil Bell Jr., Steve Toth, Trent Ashby, Kyle Kacal, Will Metcalf, and Tom Oliverson, all stating their support for “protecting all landowners in Texas from having their private property taken from them by any private entity not expressly authorized to exercise the extraordinary power of eminent domain.”
“Allowing an entity to obtain eminent domain authority by merely filing papers with the Secretary of State falsely claiming to be operating a railroad or chartered to construct an interurban electric railway is not, and cannot be the law in Texas,” said Rep. Leman. “Never did the Texas Constitution or the Texas Legislature intend to give such broad authority and extraordinary power to private entities, particularly those with no means to actually fund the construction of a $30 billion high-speed rail.”
Rep. Cody Harris stated, “The use of eminent domain is concerning enough when exercised by governmental entities; however, its power and use becomes even more concerning when granted to an entity without the accountability of the people. Because of this, the use of eminent domain is expressly limited in the Texas Constitution for public use and may only be granted by the authority of the Texas Legislature. A private entity should not be given such extraordinary power, with no means to actually fund the construction of a disastrous $30 billion high-speed rail project.”
In Texas, ownership of private property is among the most cherished rights of citizens. The use of eminent domain is expressly limited in the Texas Constitution for “public use” and may only be granted by the authority of the Texas Legislature, under conditions authorized “under law.”
In granting eminent domain authority to Texas Central Railroad, the court of appeals ignored prior actions taken by the Texas Legislature with respect to private promoters of “high-speed rail.” It also ignored current laws and definitions specifically relating to private high-speed rail projects. The issues in the case are exceptional in scope and reach, and critically important to every landowner in this state. For these reasons, Rep. Ben Leman and other members of the Texas Legislature call upon the Texas Supreme Court to review this case.
“The Texas Supreme Court has repeatedly, recently, and unanimously recognized that strong judicial protection for individual property rights is essential to freedom itself. Therefore, Texas Legislative members not only call upon the Court to once again ensure that the property rights of individual landowners are protected from the attempted abuse of eminent domain by private actors but especially when on behalf of a foreign government.”
Governor Greg Abbott is reconsidering his support of the proposed high speed rail.
The Governor of Texas recently sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Japan expressing his support for the proposed high speed rail project. Thanks to the support of landowners all throughout the state, he has announced that he is reconsidering his position. Click the letter here to see our full response to the Governor to thank him for his reconsideration.
Chris Tomlinson High Speed Rail Article
You may have recently seen an article in the Houston Chronicle that describes opponents of the proposed high-speed rail project as cranky landowners and curmudgeons – simply because we oppose a project that will impact our lives and land! See our response below to the issues raised in his article.
We encourage you all to write “letters to the editor” expressing your opposition to the project and how it impacts your life. Click the button below to send a letter to the editor to the Houston Chronicle!
Dear Mr. Tomlinson,
On behalf of millions of “cranky landowners” and “curmudgeons,” as you describe us and our fellow Texans, we appreciate this opportunity to respond point-by-point to your Sept. 23 piece “Houston-to-Dallas bullet train would bring millions of jobs to Texas.”
The proposed Texas high speed rail project you so staunchly endorse is indeed creating many new jobs, especially in Japan where they will build the trains and tracks, in Italy where they will design and engineer the track system, and in Spain where they will manage the operations.
The environment will be damaged extensively, especially for the dozens of federal and state endangered and threatened species whose habitat is threatened throughout the 500-square mile area directly impacted by the proposed construction and operation.
This “private” project is a public boondoggle. It has not raised any significant private investment in five years. Since 2018, it has been wholly dependent on a $300 million interest-bearing loan from two sovereign Japanese agencies. Now that the loan has been called, Texas Central is stealthily transferring hundreds of property deeds as collateral into the Cayman Islands offshore account owned by the foreign agencies.
Because no one will invest in this project, the company is now seeking a federal bailout of the $30 billion project.
Your plans to enjoy productive riding time may be ruined when you have to drudge onto a rubber-tired bus at the Houston station and meander through traffic to get downtown.
The logical option for new transit options is not a dangerous and recklessly-designed high speed rail from the 1960s. The Trump Administration is embracing 21st century hyperloop transportation technology for Texas that gets riders from Austin to Dallas in 25 minutes – true high-speed!
Flood control concerns are not mere “consequences.” Dozens of Texans died during Hurricane Harvey, there was more than $125 billion in property damage, but the project’s promoters completely omitted any strengthened post-Harvey flood control designs in this proposal. Houston will have weaker flood control, and more deaths and massive property destruction, thanks to this high-speed rail project.
It is not a private firm when it can’t raise any more private funds and must beg the federal government for a bailout. Almost every high-speed rail system in the world is heavily subsidized by governments. Let’s be honest - this a taxpayer-financed public project.
Congressman Kevin Brady and Representative Ben Leman are true champions of limited regulation and free enterprise. While these distinguished officials present the inconvenient facts, the project itself undermines both principles. It willfully ignores and dismisses scores of federal safety and environmental protection regulations in its final Environmental Impact Statement. As for free enterprise, the taxpayers who’ll be on the hook for billions of dollars for this failed boondoggle may help you understand that definition.
The high-speed rail system you hail as the transportation mode of the future was launched when the Beatles were pop kings of the world. The 21st century is about multimodal transportation technologies such as hyperloop, tunneling and autonomous vehicles.
This project is bad for Texas, and bad for Texans. We look forward to continuing to point out the inaccuracies touted by the company pursuing it.
ReRoute the Route