Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

Jeffrey S. Worsham.


To date, no federal takings legislation has been passed to protect individuals from government regulations that 'take' one's property without providing just compensation. However, since 1991, twenty states have passed some type of takings legislation. This study examines the following questions: What has been happening in Congress concerning the property rights issue and why has it failed to pass substantive federal takings legislation? Why did the proponents of takings legislation seek to move the issue to a larger venue beyond Congressional committees? And, what tactics did the proponents of takings legislation use to capture the political agenda regarding this issue at the state level? I test theories of agenda setting, particularly Baumgartner and Jones's (1993) dual mobilization theory, venue shifting, and issue expansion to describe the battle for control over the political agenda regarding the property rights issue in America. I employ data gathered from Congressional committee hearings concerning property matters, including property rights and regulatory takings, from 1959--1995 and interviews with people closely involved with the issue to explain the political circumstances of the property rights issue. I use the hearings' data to study for the tone, the participants, jurisdictional control, and the use of nonlegislative hearings to come to some determinations regarding the agenda battle over the property rights issue. Also, I use interview data and previous research to try to explain the issue's vertical shift of venues and why some states enact takings legislation and other do not. This study provides evidence that the property rights community has mobilized and successfully challenged for control of the political agenda in Congress regarding the property rights issue. Also, it suggests that the jurisdictional control over property matters in Congress by committees that are traditionally unfavorable to property rights interests have prevented the passing of any substantive federal takings legislation. I find that committee chairs used nonlegislative hearings as a forum accessible to rival interests to express their views. And, venue shifting was not a strategy employed by the property rights community to gain agenda control in the states. This is the first comprehensive political analysis of the property rights issue in America. My findings contribute to the contemporary knowledge regarding agenda setting and venue shifting, as well as set the stage for a deeper analysis of state level action concerning the property rights issue.