The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled against a woman who sought to have a legislation passed during a special session of the Iowa Legislature declared unconstitutional. Gertrude Godfrey of Sioux City sued seeking to overturn legislation passed in a special session in 2004 that created and funded the Iowa values fund and also included tax and labor issues.

Then Governor Tom Vilsack called the special legislative session after the Supreme Court ruled the governor’s line-item veto of provisions dealing with the tax code, product liability and worker’s compensation had killed the bill. The High Court said the governor could only veto the entire bill and not single issues.

In the special session, the legislature passed a new bill covering many of the same issues. Godfrey filed suit saying the new bill violated the single subject rule of the Iowa Constitution that’s designed to prevent what’s called "log rolling" –where unconnected issues are lumped into one bill to get them pushed through.

Godfrey claimed she had the right to sue because she had previously received worker’s compensation and the law could limit the compensation she might receive in the future. The district court ruled that even though Godfrey had received worker’s compensation in the past, there was no guarantee she would receive compensation in the future, and had no standing to sue.

The Iowa Supreme Court agreed with the lower court that Godfrey had no standing to sue. Two justices issued a dissenting opinion, saying they would apply the doctrine that says the issue is of great public importance, and allow Godfrey’s challenge to proceed.  

Supreme Court ruling on special legislatie session. Adobe file.