Governor Tom Vilsack made a last second plea to Legislators this morning to not override his veto of the eminent domain law in today’s special session. Vilsack, who is a lawyer, spoke with reporters at a neighborhood development project in Des Moines, where he said a Legislative override in a special session is not legal.
Vilsack says, “It is very clear from the Attorney General’s opinion of 1998, that a special session is not the vehicle after a legislature has adjourned, for a consideration of a governor’s action. If we’re going to do this, and we all took an oath to uphold the constitution, it should be done right.”
Vilsack, a democrat, says Legislators should pass the same law they passed before, he would take action, lawmakers would come back in three days and have the power to override the veto.
Vilsack warns the override will not stand up. Vilsack says he hopes the legislature will consider amending the bill rather than overriding the veto. Vilsack says if the legislature does override the veto, he’ll have to step back and consider what action to take. Vilsack could challenge the override as unconstitutional based on the A-G’s opinion of 1998, as he says “it’s important obviously to have that proper balance between legislative powers and executive powers.”
Vilsack says the bill needs to be changed to strike a better balance between property rights and job growth. Vilsack says lawmakers should consider the alternative bill he’s offered that changes the formula for recognizing slum and blighted areas, lifts restrictions on airport development, and allows for water projects that receive Vision Iowa dollars. He says they also suggest the creation of an ombudsman to look at whether there are abuses of the eminent domain power.
Vilsack says it’s likely there are not as many abuses in Iowa as there are in other states. Vilsack was joined by a handful of democrat lawmakers and mayors. Vilsack says Legislators are acting for political, not policy reasons, and should reconsider their stand on not negotiating a new bill.