Republicans hoping to challenge Governor Tom Vilsack’s use of his item veto power to delete income tax cuts from an “economic stimulus” package may hire the Des Moines lawyer Vilsack defeated five years ago. Mark McCormick ran for Governor but lost in the 1998 Democratic party primary to Vilsack, who went on to win his first term of Governor that year. A couple of years ago, McCormick represented a few Republican legislators who sued Vilsack over his executive order which barred on-the-job discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender state employees. McCormick won that one. Senator Jeff Lamberti, a republican from Ankeny, says McCormick is a top candidate to handle the lawsuit Republican legislators intend to file protesting Vilsack’s item vetoes of income tax cuts and regulatory reforms. Lamberti says McCormick is “one of the foremost constitutional experts we have in the state of Iowa.” House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, believes the Governor has overstepped his item veto authority, and a lawsuit is the next step for legislators. Rants says Republican like himself will “do what we have to do to defend the legislative branch” of state government. He says if they don’t, Vilsack might start claiming authority to item veto portions of any policy bill rather than restricting the action to appropriations bills, as is outlined in the constitution. Rants says Republican legislators thought they’d drafted the bill in such a way that Vilsack did not have the authority to use his item veto power. Vilsack refuses to talk specifically about the lawsuit.Vilsack says he’s confident he has the power he exercised, but he says beyond that his job is to focus on growing the economy. Republicans like Senator Lamberti say they’ll find it hard to trust Vilsack in future negotiations. Lamberti says Vilsack’s actions have “done some damage” and relations between the two branches of government “will be strained.” Vilsack rejects the idea he’s created irreparable damage to his working relationship with legislators.Vilsack says he’s confident legislators will work together with him for the “common good.”Vilsack says “Iowans expect” the politicians in Des Moines to “get things done.” As for who pays for the lawsuit — it looks like the state’s taxpayers will foot the bill for the legal fight between the Governor and Legislators.
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