The state Senate on Monday approved a bill that would prevent property from being seized for public use and then transferred to an agency of another state — taking square aim at a controversial agreement signed by C-Tran and TriMet last year.
Senate Bill 6125, introduced by state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, cleared the Senate on a mostly partisan 25-23 vote. It now heads to the House.
The bill reads in its entirety: “No private property shall be taken or damaged for public or private use that is to be transferred for use or possession by a governmental agency of another state. In the event of conflict between the provisions of this chapter and any other act, the provisions of this chapter shall govern.”
Last fall, C-Tran leaders approved a contract with TriMet that spells out how the two agencies would operate light rail in Vancouver as part of the Columbia River Crossing. A key clause of that deal allows C-Tran’s eminent domain authority to be used for TriMet to take property along the light rail line should the proposed Interstate 5 Bridge replacement materialize.
“Washington property owners shouldn’t be forced to defend their property rights against a state, locality or transit authority that they have no voice in choosing,” Benton said in a released statement. “Senate Bill 6125 is about correcting a basic issue of fairness. The idea that citizens of one state would have to defend themselves against an eminent-domain action initiated by another state would violate due process and basic concepts of state sovereignty.”