Rod Boshart, CR Gazette –
DES MOINES —The legality of an order by Gov. Terry Branstad that effectively closed 36 workforce development centers last year was argued Tuesday night before the Iowa Supreme Court.
An attorney representing a group of Democratic legislators and Danny Homan, leader of the American Federation of State, County and Municpal Employees Iowa Council 61, told justices a Polk County District Court judge “got it right” when he ruled Branstad’s veto invalid.
However, Branstad’s attorney, Richard Sapp of Des Moines, told the justices that they would be ignoring past interpretations of the governor’s line-item veto power if they upheld the lower court ruling.
The provision of the legislation that Branstad vetoed provided money to staff workforce development centers around the state.
However, Sapp told justices the intent of the legislation was unclear.
Mark Hedberg, representing Homan and the lawmakers, told the Supreme Court justices that the intent of the bill was “crystal clear,” and that $8.67 million was provided to fund and staff workforce centers the governor wanted to close.
“The item veto as I understand it was to prevent pork barrel politics,” Hedberg told the justices during a rare evening court session that was streamed live online. “I think in this case, the governor vetoed the barrel and kept the pork for himself. I think that’s why you’ve got to veto the money because he can take that $8.67 million and distort it.”
In a 16-page ruling last December, Polk County District Judge Brad McCall nullified Branstad’s line-item veto of provisions in Senate File 517 and restored the language that mandated the number of unemployment offices not be reduced.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision in the case later this year.