Opponents of EEZ Skeptical of New Blight Legislation

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COLUMBIA - Mayor Bob McDavid said Monday new state blight legislation should halt any concerns opponents have of an enhanced enterprise zone (EEZ) in Columbia. The legislation makes it more difficult to declare an area blighted. But "Keep Columbia Free," an organization that strongly opposes an EEZ designation, said Monday it remains skeptical whether the law can stand a test in the courts.

Group president Mark Flakne said he talked to several lawmakers who said the law could be challenged due to its covering of several topics. Flakne said the lawmakers believe the law will probably be overturned if it is challenged in court.

State Representative Caleb Jones, R-California, said he does not see the law being overturned. "I think it does a lot to help the cities who use an EEZ," Jones said. McDavid said the EEZ in Columbia was proposed solely to encourage manufacturing jobs in Columbia and was never meant to be used for condemnation. Flakne said even if the law does stand, Keep Columbia Free will still oppose an EEZ because it allows the government to pick winners and losers and promotes corporate hand-outs.