Vilsack vetoes eminent domain: Sioux City (IA) Journal, 6/2/06

By Dan Gearino and Todd Dorman

[Iowa] Gov. Tom Vilsack has decided to veto legislation intended to curb the ability to local governments to take private property for development.

The bill [HF 2351], approved by broad bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, dealt with local governments' eminent domain powers, banning the seizure of private property for economic development. The bill included several exceptions, such as allowing cities to forcibly acquire private property in severely blighted areas.

On Thursday Vilsack expressed concerns that the bill could hurt local job-creation efforts. Vilsack announced his decision to veto the bill this afternoon.

"You have an interesting balance between job growth, which everybody supports, and restricting the power of government, which a lot of people support," he said Thursday.

The bill was inspired by a U.S. Supreme Court case that said a Connecticut city government could seize private homes for an economic development project. This led to a nationwide backlash, with attempts in states and cities to strengthen property rights.

Vilsack’s action is certain to spark protest on both the political left and right. Republicans pushed for the bill, arguing that more must be done to protect private property rights. They were joined by Democrats such as gubernatorial hopeful Ed Fallon who argue eminent domain has been misused to accommodate urban sprawl.

Fallon called for a special session to override the veto.

“Thousands of Iowans were counting on this legislation to protect their farms, homes and businesses from condemnation,” Fallon said. “It’s simply wrong to condemn one person’s property for another person’s gain.”

The governor’s decision also puts property rights and land use issues back on the election year agenda as Iowans pick a new governor and Legislature.

Sioux City Journal: http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby (R-Marion) released the following statement in response to the governor’s veto of HF 2351, the eminent domain bill. The bill was approved by a vote of 43-6 in the Senate and 89-5 in the House.
“I’m extremely disappointed by the governor’s action. The bill was the result of countless hours of work by legislators and it was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers. I believe a veto-override by the Legislature is needed. I will be talking with my caucus about our options over the weekend. We will have a decision on Monday.”