Response to Senator Allen Regarding Property Rights and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area

 

Contact: Peyton Knight
(202) 543-4110 or [email protected]
For Release: August 30, 2006


Washington, D.C. - The office of Senator George Allen (R-VA), speaking through the Richmond Times Dispatch, has responded to concerns raised on August 18 by the National Center for Public Policy Research regarding S. 2645, "The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act of 2006."

Our response:

John Reid of Senator Allen's staff told the Times-Dispatch:  "I don't think [the National Center for Public Policy Research has] read the legislation... this bill is directly consistent with the principle of protecting personal, private property rights."

It would be no more appropriate for the National Center to criticize a piece of legislation without reading it than it would be for a Senator or Congressman to introduce a bill without reading it.  We have not done so.

Mr. Reid may be referring to Section 10 of S. 2645, which states, in part:  "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to modify the authority of Federal, State, or local governments to regulate land use."

Unfortunately, Section 10 does not prevent harm to property rights.  We reluctantly suspect the provision is a cosmetic measure designed to immunize the bill's sponsors from expected criticism by property rights and limited government advocates.

Section 10's "property rights protections" do not extend to land use restrictions and property acquisition performed by local officials at the behest of the new "management entity" the bill creates.  In short, the Senator's office is literally correct that the bill itself does not harm property rights, but the bill creates a new federally-funded "management entity" charged with activities that are likely to do so.

In short, the bill subcontracts the dirty work.

Re-reading the legislation reminds us of another troubling aspect of this bill. 

Section 3 states:

"The management entity for the Heritage Area shall be The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, a Virginia corporation, the Board of Directors of which shall include representatives from a broad cross-section of the individuals, agencies, organizations, States, and governments that were involved in the planning and development of the Heritage Area before the date of enactment of this Act."

Why does the bill limit leadership in the management entity to a pre-selected group that presumably shares a common ideology?

Though Jefferson's Monticello home is among the assets the new Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership would be tasked with preserving, Thomas Jefferson himself would have been ineligible to serve on its board of directors.


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For more information on this issue, see "The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area: An Example of How Pork-Barrel Politics Can Threaten Local Rule and Property Rights," by Peyton Knight, available online at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA540HallowedGround.html, or "Assertions vs. Reality: The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act of 2006," by Peyton Knight, available online at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA548.html.


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