Legislative News
ABI Top Priority: Workers' compensation bill debated today
The Iowa House is currently debating HF 518, which makes changes to Iowa's workers' compensation law. This is ABI's top priority for 2017, and we are one step closer to seeing this significant bill get enacted. The bill makes much needed changes to rebalance the workers' compensation system, including:
  • Shifting the burden to the employee when an injury may be due to intoxication, which helps protect workers
  • Clarifying the code after years of confusing case law that the date of injury must be reported within 90 days of the employee realizing the injury is work related
  • Ensuring employer light duty programs can continue
  • Making the shoulder a scheduled member
  • Ensuring that AMA guidelines for scheduled member injuries are adhered to by workers' compensation deputy commissioners
  • Prohibits double recovery of permanent total disability benefits
  • Provides for credit for overpayments to workers
  • Requires that commutations can no longer be unilaterally requested by the plaintiff, but must be agreed upon by all parties
  • Ensures jurisdiction is clarified to prevent benefits shopping for higher Iowa benefits
  • Prevents attorneys from taking advantage of injured workers by taking fees on voluntary payments by an employer to an employee
  • Significantly reduces the interest rates on workers' compensation judgements
Compromise is common in the legislature and some changes have been made to the original bill. The amended bill is expected to pass the Iowa House later today and will likely be debated by the Senate early next week.

The Iowa Senate must still consider the legislation. Please, contact your senator (find your senator and his/her contact information here) and ask them to SUPPORT SF 435/HF 518. We need you to do this now and through the weekend. If you have a forum in your district, plan to attend and voice your support for these workers' compensation reforms to thank representatives who supported the bill and encourage support of your senators. If you cannot attend, call your legislators and ask them to support the bill. Your grassroots action is critical to the success of this legislation!

Iowa Business Day on the Hill a success
Business leaders from across Iowa gathered Tuesday to celebrate Iowa Business Day on the Hill. Members from all over the state came to Des Moines for a legislative briefing by policy staff from ABI, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Iowa Chamber Alliance. Following the briefing, members then went to the Capitol to meet with their legislators. Members also had the opportunity to hear from leadership.  Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) and Senate President Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny) provided a legislative update about the session. Keep reading...
Revenue Estimating Conference projects lower revenue
The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) on Tuesday delivered a grim report on revenue projections for the fiscal year 2017, which ends June 30, 2017, and fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1.

The REC determined that revenue projections are lower than anticipated by $131 million for FY17. It also lowered its revenue projection for FY18 by $191 million. The REC was expected to lower projections, but not by this margin. A de-appropriations bill was passed and signed earlier this year that already cut $118 million from FY17. The Legislature and Gov. Terry Branstad have several options to deal with the shortfall, including across the board budget cuts, passing another de-appropriations bill or using money from the rainy day fund. Keep reading...

Bill to limit tax credits proposed
In light of the Revenue Estimating Conference's (REC) projections on the budget, Rep Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, filed   HSB 187 , which would limit and gradually reduce the amount of tax credits, affecting many business incentives. The bill would also eliminate refundability when there is no tax liability. This would affect the Research Activities Credit, which brings many good jobs and economic activity to Iowa. Keep reading...

Tort reform heads to the Gov. Branstad's desk
Legislation addressing tort reform continues to move through the legislative process. This week House passed  SF 376 by a 56-39 vote. The bill passed the Iowa Senate last week and now heads to Gov. Terry Branstad's desk for his signature. The Iowa Senate also held a subcommittee on  HF 69. The bill increases the penalties for trespassing and makes the act a scheduled fine. The subcommittee approved the bill Wednesday, and it now is eligible for Judiciary Committee consideration. The legislation has already passed the House.   

Read more: Bill limiting asbestos liability lawsuits heads to Branstad  (Des Moines Register)

Funnel Watch: Bills receive consideration two weeks from deadline
Several bills were considered on the floors of the House and Senate this week as legislators continue thier work with two weeks until the next funnel deadline. Here are a few of the bills ABI has been following that advanced this week:

HF 529: This bill conforms Iowa OSHA penalties to the federal government's OSHA penalties. The language will mean a substantial increase for employers who receive OSHA penalties. The bill passed the House 95-0.

SF 32: This legislation allows for the use of hair when drug testing employees. The House Labor Committee passed this bill along party lines Wednesday. The bill already passed the Senate with bipartisan support.
ABI position: For

SF 331: The bill works to eliminate duplicative gas and electric utility energy efficiency reports to the Iowa Utilities Board. The bill passed the House 95-0. The bill has already passed the Iowa Senate and now heads to the Gov. Terry Branstad's desk.
ABI position: For

HF 521: This bill makes modifications to alcohol regulation in the state. Among the changes in this legislation approved by the House Ways & Means Committee are to allow distillers to sell liquor by the drink, create fees for licenses for distillers who choose to sell liquor by the drink, and lifting the cap on production of alcohol currently imposed on distillers.
ABI position: For

SF 438: A House subcommittee has signed off on this legislation that pertains to project labor agreements. It would ban the use of these agreements on public projects. The bill has already passed the Senate.
ABI position: For

HF 215: The legislation requires employers with 50 or more employees to cover applied behavior analysis for children with autism. The bill passed the House on Wednesday 96-0.
ABI position: Against

HF 538: This water quality legislation that allows industry to access low interest loans and a grant program to help address Iowa's nutrient reduction strategy. The bill passed the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

Federal Spotlight: Administration seeks input from manufacturers
The U.S. Department of Commerce is seeking feedback from manufacturers on unnecessary burdens caused by federal permitting and regulatory requirements. The request comes as President Donald Trump's administration looks for ways to streamline the construction permitting process and reduce the regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturing.

The Commerce Department is looking for several specific pieces of information, including the type of permits required to build, expand or operate a manufacturing facility and feedback on the most onerous parts of the permitting process. Input from manufacturers is critical.  Click here to read more about the request and submit feedback.
Celebrating Steve Roberts
The ABI Board of Directors on Tuesday recognized Steve Roberts for his service to the organization. Steve served on the ABI Board of Directors for 35 years until his retirement from Davis Brown Law Firm at the end of 2016. Thank you, Steve, for your leadership for ABI and the state of Iowa! 
Make nominations now for ABI 
Foundation programs
Don't miss an opportunity to take advantage of professional and personal development opportunities offered by the ABI Foundation and its programs, Business Horizons, Leadership Iowa University and Leadership Iowa. Click here to learn more about the programs and to make your nominations.
From the Desk of...
The United States Health Care System - How do we compare and what's next?

Nataliya Boychenko, MBA, CEBS
Employee Benefit Consultant/Shareholder
Holmes Murphy and Associates

When I'm asked to speak on the topic of United States health care and what the future holds, I think of the quote by a famous playwright, George Bernard Shaw: "If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." Hopefully this will help us start the discussion on a lighter note!

Growing up in Ukraine and having the perspective of experiencing medical care in one of the former Soviet Union countries, I always find interest in data that compares the United States health care system to those of other high-income counties, especially as we compete against those countries on the international marketplace and look for system changes through legislation.

One of the studies I'd like to bring to your attention is the one conducted by the Commonwealth Fund. It compares the United States health care system to 13 other high-income countries in cost of care, as well as the outcomes of care. The United States system is the only system among the other countries that doesn't have universal health care. What we did confirm through the study is the United States has the highest spending at 17.1 percent of its domestic product on health care. This number was almost 50 percent more compared to the next highest spender - France at 11.6 percent of GDP - and almost double what was spent in the UK - 8.8 percent of GDP. The cost statistics usually don't surprise people, but the outcomes do. Despite the heavy investment in health care, the United States doesn't rank the highest on some of the health outcomes measures, such as life expectancy and the prevalence of chronic conditions. Keep reading...
Top News
Grinnell Mutual reveals new brand identity (Grinnell Mutual)
Grinnell Mutual this week revealed a new brand identity the company says more closely aligns with its continued growth and transformation.

Ahlers & Cooney, P.C. Ranks No. 1 in Iowa for Bond Counsel: Competitive Issues (Ahlers & Cooney)
Ahlers & Cooney ranked No. 1 in Iowa for Bond Counsel Competitive Issues for 2016, according to Bond Buy's Midwest Yearend Review.

Iowa Student Internship Program offers financial support for companies (IEDA)
The Iowa Student Internship Program provides grants to small- and medium-sized companies in targeted industries to support internship programs with a goal of transitioning interns to full employment in Iowa upon graduation. Applications are due April 30.

DBR's Growing Your Business Spring Speaker Series continues April 6 (DBR)
DMACC Business Resources' Growing Your business Spring Speaker Series continues April 6th with the program Attract the Best to Get the Job Done, which will provide information on how to connect with local high school and DMACC college students, aka future employees. To register or learn more email jboldt@dmacc.edu.
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