Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers budget restores eminent domain for bike trails

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wants to restore local governments and state agencies’ right to seize private property for biking and hiking trails, a move that would again pit private property owners against villages, towns and cities looking to upgrade amenities.

The current state budget prohibits government entities from using eminent domain for trails and pedestrian ways. Cycling enthusiasts and municipal leaders say the prohibition is slowing progress on projects around Wisconsin. Evers’ 2019-21 budget would lift the prohibition. His spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff, said wiping it out would restore local control.

“This is about being responsive to local communities and expanding multi-modal transportation options,” Baldauff said.

Eminent domain refers to the government’s power to seize private property and turn it to public use. The government must compensate the land owner for the taking.