A key Democratic leader at the statehouse suggests a number of Democrats will rebuff their governor and vote to override Governor Tom Vilsack’s veto of a property rights bill.
Senate Co-President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, predicts Vilsack’s veto of the bill that would have limited local governments’ ability to seize private property and turn the ground over to private developers will be overturned in a special session. “I personally think there’s enough votes to override it,” Kibbie says. “And it shouldn’t take long…(The action) is going to start in the House and if the Democrats follow the Republicans on an override, I don’t see the Senate standing in the way.”
House Democratic Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque is a bit more diplomatic, but Murphy’s no longer saying on the record that Democrats will stand with their governor and insist that the bill be rewritten. “The legislature will be coming back…and House Democrats will be deliberative and look at the issue and they’ll make their decisions based on what they think should be done,” Murphy says. “We’ll go from there.”
Three top leaders in the legislature today (Thursday) told Governor Vilsack they intend to call the Iowa Legislature back into special session on Friday, July 14th. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs is still seeking a compromise rather than a rebuff of the Democrat governor. Gronstal suggests that lawmakers agree to a nine-month moratorium on any property seizures by Iowa governments. “What would be accomplished is we would get the protection for private property rights,” Gronstal says. “If there isn’t a consensus to rewrite legislation now and there isn’t a consensus to override the veto, what about looking at a moratorium where there would be no condemnations for nine months until we had a change to have the next General Assembly try and pass some legislation on this subject?”
But Representative Ed Fallon, a Democrat from Des Moines who finished third in the party’s gubernatorial primary earlier this month, says he’s “pretty confident” enough Democrats will join with Republicans to overturn Democrat Tom Vilsack’s veto. Fallon cites a plank approved in the Iowa Democratic Party’s platform which called for tougher restrictions on local government authority to seize private property. “There’s clearly an abuse of eminent domain in Iowa, particularly in rural circumstances that I’m familiar with,” Fallon says. “I think people are aware that there are additional protections that are needed if people are to feel that they have equal footing in discussions about development in their communities.”
Fallon says he can offer no explanation as to why Vilsack misjudged the sentiments of Democrats on this issue. “I don’t know why (Vilsack) made the decision he did. We’ve talked a little bit about it. I know he feels very strongly that it might impede economic development, but I simply don’t see that,” Fallon says. “Maybe the governor and I just have a difference of opinion on this, but again I’m a little baffled that the veto ever occured.”
At least 16 Democrats must join the 51 Republicans in the House in order for the veto override vote to pass. In the Senate, nine Democrats must join the 25 Republicans for Vilsack’s veto to be overridden.