Republicans in the state legislature want to attempt to over-ride Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s veto of a bill that would have limited city and county powers to seize private property for economic development projects.
House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, is sending certified letters to all 100 members of the House, asking for their signature in support of such a move. “We understand that private property rights are one of the bedrock principles involved in the founding of this country,” Rants says.
But the effort is likely to fall short because Democratic leaders in the legislature say while a special session is “inevitable,” they want to sit down and craft a new bill addressing some of the governor’s concerns.
Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby of Marion says Democrats should instead join the effort to override Vilsack’s veto. “If they didn’t believe in it, they wouldn’t have voted for it…so this shouldn’t be an exercise in futility,” Lundby says. “It should be an exercise of the majority, the large majority of the legislature responding to the veto of a bill that we almost all agreed to.”
Governor Tom Vilsack said last week that he would be willing to use his authority to call lawmakers back into special session if they would rework the bill. Lundby says Republicans aren’t interested in that scenario. “We feel very confident with the margin that that bill passed both in the House and in the Senate that we have the right version…and (are) not particularly interested in a lot of massaging in order to change the bill,” Lundby says.
Legislators spent countless hours crafting the bill that Vilsack vetoed, according to Lundby. “This isn’t something that we did in the middle of the night or without much forethought,” Lundby says.
Senator David Miller, a Republican from Fairfield, says the bill was the most significant piece of legislation that passed the Iowa General Assembly this year. “It’s a real insult to have the governor veto it after it had such bipartisan and almost unanimous support,” Miller says.
Eighty-nine of the 100 members of the House backed the bill and 43 of the 50 senators voted in favor of the legislation. Rants, the top Republican in the House, says that should mean something. “I know overrides are difficult. I know historically it hasn’t happened very often…but you have an instance where you have such an overwhelming biparisan majority,” Rants says.
Vilsack vetoed the bill on Friday, saying it would impair the ability of city and county officials to advance private economic development projects that bring jobs into their area.