Republican legislators and Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack are meeting privately to find areas of agreement on a G-O-P business reform package. Publicly, though, the war of words over the bill’s make-up continues. Iowa Trial Lawyers Association executive director Scott Brown says the bill has “no redeeming value.” Brown says it’s “just a bill that protects corporate wrong-doers from being held fully accountable.” The bill would impose limits on the amount of money Iowans can win in lawsuits. Brown says a US Chambers of Commerce analysis concludes Iowa is the third best state in the country for businesses that’re being sued. Brown says there is no justification for the bill. Governor Vilsack, who is a lawyer, objects to the idea of rewriting the state’s law on whether a corporation acts with so-called “malice.” Vilsack says the only reason Republicans propose that is because Iowa Select Farms, a corporate hog operation, was sued and lost to a group of neighbors. But Republicans say the wide-range of regulatory reforms they’re pursuing is even more important than the new state economic development fund Vilsack wants to create. Senate President Mary Kramer, a republican from Clive, says Republicans believe that “in order to grow the economy” there have to be changed in the business climate. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, has “repeatedly” talked to the Governor in private about striking a deal on the regulatory reform bill. Rants says “we’re making progress, not as fast as I’d like, but we rarely do.” The bill’s the major sticking point between Republican legislators and Democrat Governor Vilsack in the agenda items that remain before lawmakers can complete their work for the year.
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