Governor Tom Vilsack this morning revealed a deal that will bring lawmakers back to Des Moines in early September to resurrect the “Iowa Values” economic development fund. Vilsack says a special legislative session will be held September 7th, 8th, or 9th. He says a specific date hasn’t been “firmed up,” as a “few details” need to be worked out. But Vilsack says he’s confident those details will come together soon. The Values Fund was thrown in limbo in June when the Iowa Supreme Court nullified the law that created the Fund. Since then, republicans who control the legislature’s debate agenda and democrat Tom Vilsack have been quibbling over related issues. About three dozen Iowa businesses have been promised grants from the program for expansion or relocation projects. As part of the compromise package, Vilsack has agreed to accept some changes in the way workers are compensated when they’re injured, as well as a 70 million dollar, one-time tax break for businesses. Vilsack says he and G-O-P leaders have come up with a “framework of a proposal that if passed by the legislature” he would sign into law, ending the gridlock. Vilsack says they’re hoping it’ll be a one-day special session dealing with just one topic — economic growth. He says the deal “is not all that anyone wants” and “is more than some would like,” but the governor says “it’s important for our state to move forward.” House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says Vilsack is accepting changes in workers’ comp rules that are not popular with Vilsack’s union backers or the state’s trial attorneys. Rants, who spoke with statehouse reporters by phone this morning, says he’s pleased the governor is willing to sign the changes, regardless of the opposition from those two groups. House Republican Leader Chuck Gipp of Decorah says the key is a package that’ll be considered in a special session includes business tax breaks and regulatory reforms, like changing those workers’ comp rules. Gipp says it’s a “multi-faceted approach to economic development.” Neither of the republican leaders in the State Senate were available at the statehouse for comment this morning .
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