There were developments on three fronts today in the debate over property rights legislation that Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed, including a discussion of possible dates for a special legislative session to override the governor’s action.
The attorney for the Connecticut woman who lost her property rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court and spurred state legislatures like Iowa’s to rewrite state laws is in Iowa today to speak to the Iowa Bar Association.
Scott Sawyer says Governor Vilsack’s veto of the bill that limited local governments’ authority to seize private property for economic development programs is outrageous.
“Your governor basically wants total and ultimate power over your homes and businesses,” Sawyer says. “He wants to be able to take your home or business and put it to some better use. He wants to be able to take your farm and replace it with a factory. He wants this incredible and vicious power to take all your hard work and pay you pennies for it.”
Sawyer urged Iowans to write or call Vilsack and legislators to tell them the veto was wrong. Meanwhile, the Secretary of State today (Friday) “temporarily” turned over the official copy of the bill Vilsack vetoed, sending it to leaders in the Iowa House.
Deputy Secretary of State Charlie Krogmeier says the action in no way takes sides in the debate over whether the legislature has the authority to veto the bill, or must draft and pass a new bill as the attorney general has suggested.
“We spent the last day or so visiting with the attorney general’s office as well as reading the opinions, the constitution and other things and came to the conclusion that we could release (the official copy of the bill)…as long as there were enough restrictions on it that we knew the bill would come back to us eventually,” Krogmier says.
The Secretary of State’s office is to be the “repository” for official copies of bills passed by the legislature. Soon after the Secretary of State released the bill, House Speaker Christopher Rants communicated with the 80 House members who’ve signed letters indicating they’re interested in a special session to tackle the property rights topic. Rants suggested that the House should try a veto over-ride sometime in mid-July or the first of August.
Rants currently does not have enough Democrats, however, who will agree to override Vilsack’s veto. Sawyer, the lawyer who lost the Connecticut property rights case that has spawned this nationwide controversy, warns of danger if Vilsack’s veto stands. “Iowa does not want the disaster that has happened in New London, Connecticut to happen in New London, Iowa,” Sawyer says.
Governor Vilsack vetoed the property rights bill and said he would sit down with legislators to craft a different bill that would ensure job creation efforts aren’t stymied by new restrictions on local governments. State Senator Bob Brunkhorst, a Republican from Waverly, Iowa, says Republicans aren’t inclined to trust Vilsack’s word because he went back on a deal and used his item veto authority to remove part of the teacher pay package that called for linking pay to classroom performance.
“We believed we had a handshake…on that. My members are telling me ‘Bob, why negotiate with a governor on eminent domain when, dang it, he vetoed our stuff that we’d agreed to,” Brunkhorst said as he slammed his hand on the lectern during a statehouse news conference earlier this afternoon. “So (Vilsack) needs to make some wrongs right and I believe through executive order that needs to be corrected ASAP before we would even think about coming to the table.”