Governor Tom Vilsack says he can see both sides of the argument over a bill that would curb local governments’ ability to seize land for economic development projects. Vilsack must take action by the end of the day on the bills passed by the 2006 Iowa Legislature, and the governor says he’s “struggling” over his decision on that particular bill.
Vilsack says there are “deep concerns” about the need to protect private property owners, but the bill may not have been written as well as it should have been because legislators delayed the effective date of the bill to October 1st to ensure the city of Clinton could use its power to seize private property for an A-D-M plant expansion.
“There are other projects around the state that are cropping up that might be negatively impacted so you have an interesting balance between job growth, which everybody supports, and restricting the power of government, which a lot of people support, so I’m struggling with that,” Vilsack says. “I just haven’t made up my mind yet.”
Vilsack is getting a lot of e-mail about the bill and has consulted with city and county officials as well as real estate experts and developers. “It’s just a really difficult balancing act,” Vilsack says. “We talked to legislators about this, about the necessity of making sure that as its crafted it doesn’t necessarily strangle job growth and development. That’s basically the issue.”
Despite those misgivings, Vilsack says he can’t decide whether to approve or veto the bill. “I really don’t know what I’m going to do. Obviously I’ve got to make a decision,” Vilsack says. “I just want to convey to everyone it’s not an easy decision.” The League of Cities and the 17 largest chambers of commerce in Iowa oppose the bill.
The Republican Speaker of the Iowa House has issued an on-line alert to his backers, asking them to e-mail Vilsack and urge the governor to sign the bill. House Speaker Christopher Rants says Iowa governments will subject “private property owners to…duck-and-cover, dark-of-night takeover” of their homes and businesses if the bill doesn’t become law.