House bill against Grain Belt Express' eminent domain meets new opposition

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JEFFERSON CITY - In order to prevent the use of eminent domain to build the Grain Belt Express transmission line, House Bill 1062 has been attached to Senate Bill 330 in an attempt to get pushed through before it becomes too late.

Missouri House Representative Jim Hansen, R-Frankford, the sponsor of House Bill 1062, attached its language Wednesday once Senate Bill 330 passed through the House with the added language and moved back over to the Senate for final approval.

If passed by the Senate, the bill will move on to Gov. Mike Parson for his signature.

"We're hoping that it gets the full attention it needs and that they get a chance to discuss it and debate it and we hope to pass it," said Hansen. "This is all about protecting peoples' private property rights."

Using eminent domain would allow for the Grain Belt Express to be built despite the opposition received by some of the landowners, whose land is where it is currently planned to be built. 

The transmission line is meant to transport wind energy across the state of Missouri and onto Illinois, Indiana and other neighboring states, which is why one local not-for-profit, Renew Missouri, has decided to take a stance against Hansen's bill.

"If this bill does go forward and you know signed by the governor, I think there's also legal aspects of the bill that are problematic," said Tim Opitz, Renew Missouri's general counsel.

Opitz believes that the language of the bill directly targets one company in charge of building the transmission line, which according to him is, "unconstitutional under the Missouri constitution."

While Hansen claims that the intention of bill 1062 is not to stop the building of the Grain Belt Express, Renew Missouri believes that if the bill were to pass, then the project would be impossible to finish.