The legal battle over a bill that created the new state economic development fund and outlined a new round of state tax cuts moved to the courtroom Friday. The lawyers for both sides wrangled nearly all day long. Richard Sapp is the attorney Republican legislators hired to pursue their lawsuit challenging Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s item veto of the tax cuts and regulatory reforms. Sapp says the legislature is the body outlined in the State Constitution that is to pass and make the laws. Sapp says the Governor does not have the right to selectively item veto portions of bills he does not like, but only has the authority to reject or accept the entire bill. Sapp says Vilsack violated not only his item veto power, he violated the democratic process. But Attorney General Tom Miller, who is representing Vilsack in court, says the Governor was forced to use his line item veto when lawmakers purposely tacked on tax cuts the state can’t afford. Miller says Vilsack has the authority to use his item veto on the bill because it included spending because it created the new state economic development “Iowa Values” fund. Miller says the bill, at its core, was an appropriations bill. The Governor has the authority to use his item veto power on appropriations bills, but not on policy bills and Republicans argue the bill was a policy bill. The outcome of this legal fight will hinge on whether the judge decides the bill was a policy bill or an appropriations bill. The judge has told attorneys he hopes to rule by Thanksgiving.
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