Homeowners’ Bill of Rights Introduced

MacIver News Service | June 8, 2016

[Madison, Wis…] State Senator Tom Tiffany and State Representative Adam Jarchow rolled out a new initiative on Wednesday called the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights which they hope will protect Wisconsin homeowners and “defend the American Dream.”

The legislators introduced a ten-point plan that pledges to continue to control property taxes, reform the eminent domain law, protect the right “to fly the flag” and rein in burdensome regulations at a press conference held on Dave Meixner’s property in Bay City.

According to Tiffany and Jarchow, Meixner’s property is at risk of being taken from him through the use of eminent domain, a law that allows government to take private property for a public use.

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“Studies consistently show that homeowners enjoy a significantly higher net worth than non-homeowners. That is why we believe more should be done to protect and encourage families to become homeowners,” commented Tiffany and Jarchow in a press release. “Unfortunately, the creep of overbearing government at all levels has imperiled property rights and homeownership. It’s time for reform that protects and defends home owners and by extension, the American Dream.”

The Homeowners’ Bill of Rights includes provisions to:

1) Control property taxes
2) Increase broadband access
3) Make the supply and delivery system for propane affordable
4) Provide property owners additional protections from “takings”
5) Reform unreasonable regulations that threaten property rights
6) Reduce regulatory barriers for homebuyers
7) Protect your “right to fly the flag”
8) Require a warrant based on probable cause for any search of a property
9) Broaden the concept of grandfathering
10) Inject a private property rights element into the Smart Growth program

Tiffany and Jarchow cited the legal case McKee Family I, LLC v. City of Fitchburg, where the City of Fitchburg changed the zoning rules on a property after it was purchased, resulting in the property owner having to build significantly fewer units on the property than originally planned.

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Another goal of the package is to see increased homeownership through decreased regulation on homebuilders. A National Association of Homebuilders study found, on average, regulations accounted for 24.3 percent of the final price of a new single-family home. Tiffany and Jarchow worry that increased prices have restricted housing options for first-time buyers and might have pushed some out of the market entirely.

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The Homeowners’ Bill of Rights will not be enacted into law anytime soon. Most legislators are back in their districts running for re-election this fall and the full Legislature is not scheduled to be back in session until January of 2017.