Texas Environmental Almanac


Texas "Takings" Legislation


During the 74th Texas legislative session, what has become known as the "takings" bill was passed.(1) This legislation subjects a huge range of government actions to legal challenges from private property owners. The law allows property owners to bring a variety of legal actions to halt or invalidate government actions claimed to cause a "taking," which is defined as 25% or greater reduction in property value. If the government wants to carry out actions that result in a taking, as defined by the terms of this law, it will have to first pay compensation to landowners who challenge the action.

The term takings is derived from the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which in part reads, "... nor shall private property be taken for public use without due compensation."

This law does not just apply to environmental regulations; a broad spectrum of government jurisdiction, on the state and local levels, will be affected. The Texas Farm Bureau and other agricultural and rural landowner organizations were the driving force behind the Texas takings bill. Supported by extractive industries, such as mining, timber, agriculture, oil and gas, takings legislation has also been introduced at the national level and in many western states. Much of the takings legislation being proposed or passed at the national and state levels is an attempt to thwart the intent of the Endangered Species Act and other major environmental and conservation legislation. The Texas legislation, however, cannot be applied to the Endangered Species Act or other federal environmental laws.

The Texas takings legislation only affects the actions of state and local governmental entities (including institutions of higher education, school districts, municipal utility districts and river authorities). It has two main components: (1) allowing landowners to sue for compensation or to stop or invalidate government action that results in a taking, as defined by the legislation and (2) requiring that "takings impact assessments" be performed by government entitities before they take action, with an option for landowners to sue to stop the action if the governmental entity does not prepare the impact assessment.



  1. Senate Bill 14 passed by the Texas Legislature May 1995

Texas Environmental Almanac, Environmental Focus: Texas "Takings" Legislation

Almanac Table of Contents TEC Home Page

Please send questions, comments, or problems with this page to ltarver@mail.utexas.edu..