As pressure mounts on statehouse Democrats to override the governor’s veto on a property rights bill, the Attorney General’s office warns it would probably be illegal. The Iowa Farm Bureau has been calling democratic lawmakers all week, urging them to return for a special session.
But Iowa Deputy Attorney General Julie Pottorff says a legal opinion issued in 1998 says the Legislature cannot override a veto once the session is over. “They could take it up again in a special session. The distinct here…is that they can’t over-ride the prior veto,” Pottorff says. “They could reenact the bill, and the governor has the option of vetoing it once again.”
Legislators would have the option of passing the same bill, but the attorney general’s advice is that the governor could just veto it again. Opponents want the legislature to override the governor’s veto of a bill that restricted local governments’ ability to seize private property for economic development.
If the Legislature re-enacts the bill and the governor does veto it a second time, lawmakers could then vote to override that veto as long as they remain in special session. “This is the advice and position of our office,” Pottorff says. “We would hope officials act in accordance with it, but we cannot force them to do so.”
The earlier opinion, however, may signal that it wouldn’t be wise to try an override now adjournment has passed. “If that happens then ultimately a court will decide” the dispute according to Pottorff.
House Republican leaders sent out letters earlier this month asking House members to return for special session and House Democrats will announce their decision at a news conference late this (Friday) morning. The property rights bill was initially approved with broad support from both parties.