OLYMPIA… Sen. Mike Carrell’s eminent domain bill was the subject of a public hearing Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Bill 5444 would require state agencies, local governments and utilities to send certified letters to a property owner and publish a notice in the newspaper before seizing private land.
“One of my constituents, Ken Miller, found out that his property was being seized after notice was posted on a government Web site. That is not sufficient means to notify someone that the government is planning on taking their land,” said Carrell, R-Lakewood, who represents the 28th Legislative District. “No one should suffer the pain of losing their property because they neglected to check one of hundreds of government Web sites.”
Carrell’s bill was requested by the state Attorney General’s Office and the governor. It is in response to a state Supreme Court decision regarding the Miller case. Sound Transit had posted its intent to seize part of Miller’s property in a meeting agenda on a Web site. Miller appealed the decision to Sound Transit’s board of directors and lost. The Supreme Court upheld the board’s actions in a 5-4 decision, saying a Web site posting is just as good as a newspaper notice.
“This is a case where Sound Transit, the executive branch and the judicial branch of our government failed Ken Miller. Now it’s up to the legislative branch to make sure they don’t fail anyone else in our state,” Carrell said.
“I’m proud to sponsor this bill on behalf of Ken Miller’s family, and all the families in the state of Washington who may not have a computer available to them, which is currently the only way they might even know some government agency has plans for their property,” Carrell said. “Hopefully, this type of disregard for the public will never happen again in our communities.”
The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and will now go to the Senate Rules Committee.