MONDAY, AUG. 12, 2019  |  IN THIS ISSUE  

A new study suggests  Iowa employer health insurance premiums rose at more than twice the pace of wage increases in the past year, the Des Moines Business Record reports.

According to an annual employer benefits survey conducted by David P. Lind Benchmark of Clive, total health premiums increased an average of 7.1 percent from 2018 to 2019, while wages for Iowans increased by 3 percent  during the same period.

There were 999 Iowa employers who participated in this year's 2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study.

In 2019, 75 percent of all Iowa employers reported an increase to their health insurance premium, a similar finding compared with the previous two studies performed in Iowa. 

For the first time in the study's 20-year history, employers were asked to gauge their "cost-shifting fatigue," or how much they are considering no longer offering coverage. On a 10-point scale, where 1 means the employer has a minimum cost-shifting fatigue and 10 means the employer has reached its limit of shifting costs to employees and is now considering to no longer offer health coverage, Iowa employers reported their fatigue level was 3.5, which means they are not yet ready to discontinue offering health coverage.

Other findings in the new survey include:
  • Iowa employees are asked to contribute about $109 monthly for employee-only coverage, which is similar to the previous year ($113). Employees with family members are asked to pay $483 a month, a 10.3 percent increase compared to 2018 ($438). Over the course of 20 years (1999-2019), employee contributions have increased by 195 percent for single coverage and 173 percent for family coverage. In sharp contrast, the Iowa Workforce Development shows the average weekly wage (for all industries) earned in Iowa increased by 53.8 percent between 2001 and 2018. 
  • The average deductible that Iowa employees are required to pay in 2019 for single coverage ($2,192) is $292 higher when compared to the 2018 average ($1,900), representing a 15 percent increase. The 2019 family deductible ($3,975) is $76 higher when compared to the 2018 deductible. Deductibles since 2004 for both single and family have risen by 288 percent and 235 percent, respectively.
  • As health insurance costs continue to rise, employers contain their health insurance costs by passing some or all of the increased costs to their employees (58 percent), absorbing the entire cost increase (32 percent), increasing deductibles (19 percent), raising employees' out-of-pocket costs (12 percent) and changing insurance companies (11 percent).
Link2Iowa Corn Growers protest additional ethanol waivers


The Iowa Corn Growers Association is protesting an Environmental Protection Agency announcement it will grant 31 of 38 small refinery exemptions (SRE) waivers from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), arguing the decision negatively impacts ethanol demand.

"Granting of the additional 31 refinery exemptions are ridiculous and a slap in the face to farmers," said Curt Mether, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Logan, in a release late last week. "The RFS could be one of the most effective energy policies in our country's history, but the waivers gut the policy and destroy corn demand for farmers that are faced not only with challenges from Mother Nature but market destruction. It is time for President Trump to step in and uphold his promise to farmers and the RFS."

The EPA has handed out an unprecedented number of exemptions to small refineries across the country, the association said, "effectively destroying more than 2.61 billion gallons of ethanol demand resulting in the destruction of nearly 1 billion bushels of corn demand."

The EPA issued fewer waivers and rejected a larger number of petition than in previous years, Reuters reported, but since President Trump took office it has more than quadrupled the number of waivers it granted to refiners, saving the oil industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

The RFS was enacted more than a decade ago to both aid farmers and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but has become a battleground of sorts between the oil and corn industries.

"The damage done by the EPA to grant additional unjustified waivers undermines the RFS and destroys markets for Iowa's corn farmers. Not only do the waivers destroy corn demand, but they benefit oil companies that have record profits. If the President allows his EPA to grant these waivers, he must direct the EPA to reallocate these gallons into the next 2020 renewable volume obligation (RVO) decision to keep in alignment with his promises to American farmers on ethanol," stated Mr. Mether. 
Story3Survey: Allegra of Cedar Rapids ranks among top 100 printers

Allegra Marketing Print Mail in Cedar Rapids recently ranked among the Top 100 Quick and Small Commercial Printers list compiled by Printing News in its annual survey.

Printing News ranked companies based on maintaining high operational standards and sales volumes throughout the last year. Allegra, owned by Eric Van Kerckhove and Ben Van Kerckhove, ranked  No. 90 and appears on the list for the fifth consecutive year.

"We understand the importance of getting a project done right and appreciate every opportunity the community has given us to be their trusted resource for all things printing and marketing focused," said Eric Van Kerckhove in a release. "We look forward to continuing to build upon our services while delivering the same high-quality experience Cedar Rapids-area businesses and nonprofits have come to expect from us."

Allegra, located at 3939 16th Ave. SW, is a full-service marketing communications provider with in-house capabilities including: consultation; copywriting and graphic design services; advanced printing technologies including full-color printing, digital color signs, posters and banners; complete finishing services; mailing services; variable data capabilities; promotional products; and print management solutions. Allegra can also help businesses with search engine optimization, pay-per-click campaigns and web-to-print solutions.

Allegra is independently owned and operated and is a member of the Alliance Franchise Brands network, a world leader in marketing, graphics and visual communications, with more than 600 locations in North America.

The law firm of Hupy and Abraham, S.C., P.C., has announced the relocation of its Cedar Rapids office to better serve clients and accommodate its growing staff. 

"This is an exciting, progressive time in Cedar Rapids," said attorney Jason Abraham in a release. "We are thrilled to relocate and provide better access to our firm's exceptional practice. We will continue to expand our services and do everything we can to get those injured every dollar they deserve."

Hupy and Abraham handles personal injury cases, including car and motorcycle accidents, slips and falls, dog bites and trucking accidents. 

The new office is located at 415 12th Ave. SE, Suite 202, in Cedar Rapids, and will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Firm headquarters will remain in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Hupy and Abraham has 11 offices across Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, and has been representing injured clients for over 50 years. More than $1 billion has been recovered for clients through verdicts and settlements, the firm said in a press release.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will join American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan and business leaders at the Iowa State Fair today to sign a proclamation recognizing Aug.11-17 as American Wind Week in Iowa. 

Ms. Reynolds's proclamation represents a statewide effort to promote local investments in wind energy and highlight the significant economic benefits it brings to the state.

The proclamation is supported by Power Up Iowa, a statewide coalition launched in April with the support of Ms. Reynolds, elected officials, business leaders, and local advocates who want to see increased wind energy investment in Iowa. 

Leading up to Monday's statewide proclamation, mayors across the state have signed local proclamations recognizing American wind Week in their respective communities, including Ames, Marshalltown, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Denison, Fort Dodge, Mason City, Sioux City, Waterloo and West Des Moines.

The proclamation signing will coincide with "Power Up Iowa Wind Day" at the state fair and will be held in front of a full-scale 185-foot wind turbine blade from TPI Composites Inc., which manufacturers blades in Newton. Throughout the fair, the blade will be visited and signed by Iowa elected officials and presidential candidates.

Aug. 13
TechBrew AM, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 8-9 a.m., Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE. TAI President Brian Waller conducts casual interviews with CIOs who discuss their
career path and share what's most important for Iowa's tech community. Free. To register, visit technologyiowa.org/events.

Marketing Forum, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m., Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE. Driven by group discussion, participants will receive advice and tips, learn from others, and grow their professional network. This month's topic is campaign and communications map. Free. For more information, visit cedarrapids.org.

Monthly Lunch Roundtable, by SCORE of East Central Iowa, noon-1 p.m., Granite City, 4755 First Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. This is an informal networking opportunity for those in business and those thinking about starting a business. Free. To register, visit conta.cc/2NZgMlf.

Aug. 14
The Link Between Childcare & Our Workforce, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, Linn County Early Childhood Iowa and the Iowa Women's Foundation, 8-10 a.m., Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE. Join business and community leaders to examine potential childcare solutions and prepare for the future. Free, continental breakfast provided. To register, visit bit.ly/2Yrfss4.

1 Million Cups, by 1MC Cedar Rapids, 8:15-9:15 a.m., Geonetric, 415 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Join for community connections, free coffee, and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit facebook.com/1MCICR.

1 Million Cups, by 1MC Iowa City, 9-10 a.m., MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Join for community connections, free coffee, and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit facebook.com/1MillionCupsIC/.

The Practical Application of Engagement to Drive Business Results, by Clickstop, 9-11 a.m., 202 Blue Creek Drive, Urbana. Learn how to define and identify engagement and the factors that move a team to become engaged. Cost $90. To register, visit bit.ly/2LmE9Sy.

New Teacher Luncheon, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m., Old Brick, 26 E. Market St., Iowa City. Help welcome new teachers to the Iowa City area. Cost: Newly hired K-12 educators, free; guests $20. For more information, visit bit.ly/2JxBzH7.
See and Be Seen

in the CBJ Book of Lists - THE definitive resource guide for business leaders. Ranked information on Corridor companies by sector, regional market facts and profiles of the most influential people under one cover. Don't be left out - Be Seen! For advertising information, contact Andrea Rhoades at  andrea@corridorbusiness.com .

Note: The CBJ is now observing summer hours through Aug. 30. The CBJ offices will be open Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and Fridays, 8 a.m.-noon. 
Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
 
An Iowa City man is now facing a new first degree murder charge for a deadly wrong way crash on Interstate 80.  On June 16, Stephen D. Lucore, 32, was heading east in the westbound lanes near mile marker 234 between Tiffin and Oxford without headlights on the darkened interstate when he collided head-on with another car at around 9:30 p.m., according to a criminal complaint.  According to the Iowa State Patrol report, Mr. Lucore was driving 80 mph and not wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident.  He later told police he was trying to kill himself by driving the wrong way.  Two of the passengers in the car hit by Mr. Lucore, driven by David H. Sawyer, 31, of Frisco, Texas, were injured.  Passengers Robert Sawyer, 64, of Nocona, Texas, and Mercedes Quevas, 58, were airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Robert  Sawyer later died as a result of his injuries.  A third vehicle being driven by Michael F. Griffin, 34, of Memphis, Tennessee, was struck by debris from the crash. Mr. Griffin was uninjured. Mr.  Lucore was taken to the hospital by ambulance and later charged with serious injury by vehicle (a class D felony) and homicide by vehicle (a class C felony).  On Monday, Sixth Judicial District Judge Chad Kepros approved amended charges filed by Johnson County prosecutors. Mr.  Lucore now faces additional charges of first degree murder and four counts of willful injury, along with the original charges.  As of Friday night, Mr. Lucore was still in custody at Johnson County Jail. His bond is set for $1,000,000.

Thirteen brave kids swarmed the field at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday for Iowa's annual Kids Day practice.  It's the 11th year current and former patients at University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital will be honored during each Hawkeye football game as Iowa Kid Captains.  When Lucy Roth was only two years old, an MRI revealed the Iowa City native had a massive brain tumor.  Neurosurgeons were able to remove a large amount of it during a 12-hour surgery. Lucy endured a few more years of radiation and a second brain surgery to remove more of the tumor. Even now, several years later Lucy still has parts of the tumor but is stable and continues to live each day with joy. She's now ecstatic to be able to be a Kid Captain for Iowa's road game against Northwestern on Oct. 26. Read the full story here.

T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast

It will be a stormy start to the week with periods of storms today. Drier, fall-like air will move in behind the rain.  A strong storm system will move across the Midwest today. The first batch of storms arrived after 8 a.m. There will then be a break and, with mostly cloudy skies, temperatures will be in the 70s north to 80s in the south.  The morning rain will determine what happens this afternoon. An area of low pressure will move across the warm front and lead to another round of storms, mainly after 2 p.m. in Eastern Iowa. These storms will likely be strong with gusty winds the main threat and tornado threat secondary. However, there is still uncertainty on where these storms set up this afternoon. Along with strong storms there will be the potential for heavy rain. The rain will wind down tonight and it will be mostly cloudy and mild.