2019 Session Adjourned
After a marathon week, the 2019 Iowa legislative session adjourned sine die Saturday, April 27 at 2:25 p.m. This year’s legislative session adjourned within the 110-day schedule and ended early for the first time in many years.

The 2019 session began with almost 30 new legislators, which led to many hours spent educating legislators on key issues for the business community. The outcome of the session was positive for Iowa employers. ABI registered a position on more than 350 bills this session and tracked a total of almost 500 bills.

The public policy team worked to ensure the business voice was heard at the Capitol. ABI, through your voice, successfully defeated several measures that would have adversely affected Iowa’s business climate. Thank you for contacting your legislators and telling elected officials about the effect of anti-jobs bills.
2019 Session: Workforce Initiatives and Rural Iowa
ABI had three legislative priorities for 2019, and each priority was accomplished. It was another great year for the business community, as ABI successfully lobbied on key legislation that fit within the scope of ABI’s priorities in 2019 . You can see those bills below.

Funding of Future Ready Iowa: As you will read below in the appropriation analyses, ABI supported–and appropriations were allocated to–the Employer Innovation Fund, the Last Dollar Scholarship Program and the Skilled Workforce Grant Fund. The appropriations are for individuals to participate in programs that allow them to obtain the skills and education they need to achieve success. The goal of the Future Ready Iowa Act is to ensure that 70% of Iowans have some kind of training or education beyond the high school level by 2025. The multimillion dollar investment in the existing programs puts Iowa on a path to achieve that goal.

HF 772 : Empower Rural Iowa. Another priority for ABI this year was the passage of Empower Rural Iowa. The bill has two components. The first piece, which seeks to address the lack of workforce housing specifically in rural parts of the state, is also part of ABI’s workforce priority. The legislation increases the rural set aside in the workforce housing tax credit by $5 million. The second piece of the bill deals with broadband and was one of the components of ABI’s Competitive Business Climate priority. Specifics about the legislation were included in this week’s newsletter

HF 327 : Franchisor/Franchisee Relationship. This legislation establishes clear law with regards to employer/employee relationship when a franchise agreement exists. The bill states that a franchisor is not the employer of a franchisee or a franchisees’ employees unless certain conditions are met. This bill seeks to address the 2015 NLRB Browning-Ferris decision, which expanded the definition of the joint employer standard. The bill was signed into law on April 9.

HF 732 : Medical Cannabidiol. The legislation eliminates the 3% THC cap and replaces that with a 25 grams of THC per patient per 90-day period limit. This is a significant increase in the amount of THC a person can be prescribed. The bill allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to recommend medical cannabidiol usage. It requires the Board of Medicine to adopt rules allowing the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board to grant a waiver for patients to receive more than the 25 gram limit if the practitioner determines the amount is inadequate in alleviating the patient’s debilitating medical condition or if the patient’s debilitating medical condition is a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than one year. It passed the House 96-3 on March 26 and passed the Senate 40-7 today. As the Legislature facilitates the expansion of medical cannabidiol, ABI continues to work with legislators to ensure that employers have the ability to protect their workplace from the hazards that can arise from the use of cannabidiol.

Competitive Business Climate
SF 507 : Idiopathic Falls in Workers' Compensation. This ABI priority legislation ensures that unexplained or idiopathic falls from a level surface onto the same level surface are not compensable under workers’ compensation. This legislation was necessary to address a recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling Bluml v. Dee Jay’s Inc. Gov. Reynolds signed the bill on April 23.

SF 634 : Property taxes and local government budget growth are intertwined issues that legislators have been hearing a lot about back in their districts after assessments were sent out at the end of March. ABI supported a bill that will provide greater transparency and accountability when it comes to local property taxes and the growth of city and county budgets. More information about the bill can be found in our newsletter . After passage of the bill by the House and Senate, the governor will have 30 days to review.

HF 779 : This legislation is a tax cleanup bill that was a result of last year’s comprehensive tax reform legislation. ABI worked extremely hard to educate legislators and ensure the word “primarily” was included in the definition of manufacturer for sales and use tax exemptions. The final language also includes retroactivity back to the effective date of the bill that passed in 2018. ABI also supported the provision in the  final bill that makes corrective changes to the telephone assessment bill from last year and a provision that exempts from sales and use tax the sales price of grain bins, including material or replacement parts used to construct or repair grain bins. The final agreed to language in the bill includes the computer task force membership, the extension of High Quality Jobs program and clarification when marketplace facilitators are required to collect sales tax. The final bill did not include language addressing Section 163(j) or GILTI. The legislation passed the House 90-8 and the Senate 44-4.

HF 537 : The legislation relates to fees on public utilities by local governments related to public right-of-ways. It increases transparency in management costs and ensures that local governments aren’t collecting fees to which they aren’t entitled. It passed the House 51-48 and was approved in the Senate 32-18. It now heads to Gov. Reynolds for her consideration.

Regulatory Reform
SF 475 : E-notary. This legislation allows for electronic notary in Iowa, which would increase the efficiency of certain transactions such as real estate closings. ABI was part of a stakeholder group last summer that ultimately led to the bill’s passage. It was passed in the Senate 48-0 and was approved 95-2 in the House. It has been sent to the governor’s desk.

HF 668 : Alcohol legislation that addresses issues within the three-tier system including defining institutional investor. It passed the House 80-19 and the Senate 38-11. Gov. Reynolds signed this into law on March 21st.
ABI Stops Job Crushers
Legislation is introduced each year that would have a negative effect on the business climate here in Iowa. The 2019 legislative session was no exception, and while some anti-jobs bills did advance through the legislative process, none of them were ultimately sent to Gov. Reynolds. All bills remain alive for consideration for next year, however, since we’re in the first session of the 88th General Assembly. ABI would like to thank all of the members who engaged their legislators on these key issues. You can see our full list of Job Crushers.
By the Numbers: ABI's 2019 Legislative Session
ABI lobbyists: 3 (beginning in mid-February)
Number of bills registered: 379 (2018: 320)
Number of bills supported: 66 (2018: 57)
Number of bills opposed: 66 (2018: 21)
Number of ABI-supported bills passed by both chambers: 12
30-day Veto Window
Now that session is over, Gov. Reynolds has 30 days to veto or approve bills received in the last three days of session. She can veto a whole policy or budget bill or item-veto specific appropriations or policy language in an appropriations bill. During this time, the governor and her staff will carefully review the language to ensure it fits within the state's budget targets and her policy goals. Groups who want items signed or vetoed typically use the 30-day time to send letters of support or opposition to the governor. If she vetoes or item-vetoes an appropriations bill, she provides an explanation about the reason for the veto. Bills have enactment dates of July 1, unless otherwise specified. Here is an overview of budget bills from the business perspective.

Appropriations Bills
ABI follows the appropriations process, watching for policy or appropriations that affect businesses and the agencies with which they interact. ABI weighed in on several budget bills this session, some of which contained ABI priority appropriations. Below are the appropriations bills and the issues that ABI followed.

Education Appropriations ( HF 758 ): The legislation allocates just over $13 million for the Last-Dollar Scholarship Program, which is a key component for Future Ready Iowa. Other provisions in the bill relating to Future Ready Iowa include $300,000 to fund the statewide clearing house meant to expand work-based learning and $600,000 for the post-secondary summer classes for high school students program. There is also policy language that requires Iowa Workforce Development to create and update a list of high-demand jobs statewide for several programs a part of Future Ready Iowa. It also establishes minimum criteria for the definition of “high-demand job” when individuals are applying for a Last-Dollar Scholarship.

Economic Development Appropriations ( SF 608 ): The legislation includes $1.2 million for the Iowa Employer Innovation Fund and $1 million for the Skilled Workforce Grant Fund, which are parts of Future Ready Iowa. The bill allocates $2.85 million in interest from the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund to Iowa Workforce Development for field offices. It also appropriates $100,000 for Housing Needs Assessment Grant Program and $300,000 for Rural Innovation Grants. Both programs are a part of Empower Rural Iowa.

Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations ( SF 609 ): The bill initially contained a policy provision increasing the air quality minor source fee cap from $250,000 to $750,000. ABI was successful in explaining to legislators why program efficiencies and change must occur at DNR before a fee cap increase is warranted, and the cap language was not included in the final bill. This legislation also appropriates $425,000 for ambient air quality monitoring and funding for water quality.

Administration & Regulation Appropriations ( HF 759 ): The Administration & Regulation budget allocates $5 million to the Office of the Chief Information Officer for the broadband grant program. The bill increases funding to the Insurance Division  and designates  at least two full-time employees to investigate fraud. The Senate version of the bill, which did not get adopted, was much more prescriptive in the funding and allocated $647,355 to the Insurance Fraud Bureau for the hiring of seven FTEs to investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Two of those employees were specifically designated to investigate workers’ compensation fraud and one prosecuting attorney.

Standings Appropriations ( SF 638 ): The budget bill that typically ends up as a catch-all at the end of session was substantially pared back in 2019. Provisions of interest to ABI members include changes to not allow a utility to collect more than 2% for energy efficiency programs and a modified version of the Judicial Nominating Commission bill that passed the Senate earlier in the session.
Regional Public Policy Meetings to Begin Soon
In the coming weeks, the ABI public policy team will be traveling the state to present the results of the session and preview the upcoming elections to ABI member companies. The high-value briefings are an excellent opportunity to provide feedback to the policy team, and they include a meal. You can find out more information about the meetings by going to the ABI events calendar .
Closing Remarks
The governor and legislators had these final remarks today as the 2019 legislative session adjourned.

Office of the Governor