The legal fight over the Governor’s decision to item veto some provisions of the Legislature’s economic stimulus package is now broader. The Iowa Trial Lawyers Association has filed a special motion which challenges whether the expansive bill legislators drafted is constitutional. In late June, Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack used his item veto authority to nix regulatory reforms and new rules for court cases out of the package, and the top two Republicans in the Legislature have filed a lawsuit in protest. Now, Scott Brown of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association says his group is challenging the entire economic stimulus package because the subject matter was too broad — including everything from tax cuts to changes in the rules for cases in which workers are hurt on the job. Brown says the motion was filed on behalf of Iowans who have pending legal cases that would be jeopardized if the Republicans win their lawsuit against the Governor. Brown says Republicans couldn’t pass the anti-worker provisions on their own, so G-O-P leaders decided to tie the controversial changes onto something the Governor wanted — the Grow Iowa Values Economic Development Fund. Brown says it’s a classic case of log-rolling, where legislators who can’t enact certain provisions, tie them into other legislation where it’s take the whole package or not. Brown says the Iowa Constitution stipulates that bills can’t be written that way. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, defends the legislature’s action, and ridicules the Trial Lawyers’ motion.Rants says they’ll ask the courts to dismiss the Trial Lawyers’ motion, which he calls “irrelevant” to the issue of whether the Governor’s item vetoes were proper. Rants says the Trial Lawyers are just sore losers. Rants says the Trial Lawyers failed to win in the legislative process, so they’re “resorting to their old tricks” and taking the issue into the courts. Rants says there’s no reason this latest legal wrinkle should delay the decision.
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