Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says he won’t take a stance on the use of eminent domain to secure the right of way for the proposed Baaken oil pipeline.
Branstad says he supports the process created by the legislature that allows the Iowa Utilities Board to make the decision. “I think eminent domain should be used only sparingly, but I think there are times that it may be appropriate,” Branstad says. “So, I don’t think we should make a blanket statement that eminent domain should never be used.”
Branstad says the decision needs to be handled in a “very thoughtful way.” “And I’ve heard from some personal friend who are landowners that have strong feelings about this. And I’ve shared with them that I believe we should not be involved in making a political decision, but let the Utilities Board make the decision based on the facts and the merits of each proposal,” Branstad says.
The governor was asked if the oil pipeline is different because it benefits a private company, while eminent domain used to take land for roads benefits everyone. “They’re not taking the land, they are only using the land to put a pipeline through. And we’ve had thousands of miles of pipeline put through this state,” Branstad says. The Iowa Utilities Board will hold its first public hearing on the issue next week.
On another topic, Governor Branstad says he believes an administrative law judge will rule in favor of the Department of Human Services in the appeal of three companies who were not among the four companies chosen to manage the state Medicaid program. Branstad says anytime you have a request for proposal on any major project where significant money is at stake, those who are not successful want to exhaust any potential remedies that might overturn the award. “But I feel confident,” Branstad says.
The amount of project savings has come under fire, but the governor stands by the estimates and process. “The Department of Human Services has share with me the spreadsheet and the criteria that they use, and I think that they acted in an appropriate way and we feel confident,” according to Branstad. Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attacked the plan during campaign stops in Iowa. Governor Branstad answered those attacks.
“Interestingly enough, three of the four successful bidders here are already providing the services the State of New York. And that’s why I found it kind of interesting that Hillary Clinton would attack what we are doing in Iowa when her state has been doing it for sometime…using three of the four that are going to be providing in Iowa,” Branstad says.
Branstad expects the decision to be released by the administrative law judge within a week.