Employer mandates highlight week at Capitol
Members of the ABI public policy team attended more than 50 subcommittees this week on topics ranging from GPS tracking systems in company vehicles and proposals to mandate insurance coverage for autism and eating disorders to mandated time off for prenatal visits. Key bills discussed this week include:
SF 398 focuses on increased outreach and investigators in cases of wage payment complaints to Iowa Workforce Development. Each year, ABI has supported legislation that would enhance education and enforcement of wage payment requirements, and this bill speaks to both of those issues. Action: Bill passed out of subcommittee with amendment and will likely be taken up by the full committee next week
A Senate labor subcommittee met Monday to discuss SSB 3071, which creates new restrictions and requirements related to salary disclosure. The primary goal of the bill is to make public the compensation of employees of private sector businesses so that pay disparities are viewable to all employees. Action: Bill passed out of subcommittee and forwarded to full committee
On Wednesday, Senate Commerce subcommittees considered two bills that would broaden health care coverage requirements. SF 2072 would require group health insurance policies to provide coverage benefits before the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. SF 2019 would require group health insurance policies to provide coverage benefits for diagnostic assessment and treatment of eating disorders. Action: Both bills were passed by the subcommittees and were forwarded to the full Commerce Committee
A third subcommittee meeting took place late Thursday to discuss an amendment to SF 84, a bill that would prevent employers from asking about a prospective employee's criminal background. The purpose of today's meeting was to review and take comment on the proposed amendment. Myron Linn provided feedback and expressed ABI member concerns. Action: The amended bill passed out of the subcommittee by a 2-1 vote and was forwarded to the full Judiciary Committee.
Pregnancy Accommodations: SF 313
Three women, all public employees, spoke Wednesday before the Senate Labor and Business Relations Committee in favor of workplace accommodations for pregnant employees. SF 313 would require employers to provide "reasonable accommodations" for pregnant employees, including job restructuring, providing new or modified equipment and modifying the employees work schedule, unless it poses an undue hardship on the employer. Action: No action was taken Wednesday, but bill sponsor Sen. Chris Brase (D-Des Moines) plans to amend SF 2098 into SF 313
Paid Time for Prenatal Care: SF 2097
A subcommittee met to discuss mandating at least 40 hours off for employee prenatal visits. This time would be in addition to any sick or paid time off provided by the employer. Action: Passed out of subcommittee, move to full committee next week
Tax Credits for Hiring Iowa Contractors: SSB 3095
SSB 3095 allows a portion of high quality job monies to be used as a tax credit for companies that contract with Iowa contractors and subcontractors who have apprenticeship programs to do work on a specific project. Action: Passed out of full Senate Economic Growth Committee, will move to Senate Ways and Means Committee
Biorenewable Chemical Bill:
The House Economic Growth Committee passed HSB 518 out of full committee on Thursday afternoon. The bill, which will provide incentives for new biotechology companies, is a priority for the Iowa Economic Development Authority. ABI is registered in favor of the legislation. Action: Since the bill involves tax policy, it will now move to the House Ways and Means Committee
An Iowa House subcommittee met Wednesday to hear from stakeholders about Iowa's bottle bill and potential changes to the law, which offers a 5-cent deposit on some beverage containers. Action: Lawmakers did not discuss the proposals after hearing from stakeholders, but committee chairwoman Rep. Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) said legislators have a responsibility to continue discussions on the issue
First funnel, legislative conference call next Friday
The Legislature's first funnel deadline is next Friday, Feb. 19. All bills, except for Appropriations, Ways and Means and Government Oversight, must be out of one committee in one chamber in order to remain "alive" for the session. For an update on what bills remain in play for the legislative session, make sure to register for the February legislative update on Friday, Feb 19 at 9 a.m. Email Michelle Vollstedt ( firstname.lastname@example.org) to RSVP.
Department of Revenue rule final
The Administrative Rules Review Committee met Friday, Feb. 5, to hear from state agencies on various proposed rules. Two items of interest for ABI member companies were on the agenda. First, the DNR rules establishing fees for air construction permits is final.
The next major item of interest relates to the Department of Revenue rule amending definitions for manufacturing purchases of machinery, equipment and replacement parts eligible for a sales and use tax exemption, which you have read about in previous newsletters. The rule was adopted and filed in final form Friday.
Appropriations Committee hears from Iowa Workforce Development
The joint House and Senate Economic Development Appropriations Committee received a presentation by the Iowa Workforce Development Director on Tuesday.
Federal Spotlight: Supreme Court issues stay on Clean Power Plan
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday prevented implementation and enforcement of the Clean Power Plan while legal challenges around the country are still being considered. The decision by the Supreme Court is a victory for businesses in Iowa and around the country. Keep reading...
Future Ready Iowa Summit to address skills gap
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday announced an upcoming summit to discuss ways to address Iowa's skills gap. The Governor's 2016 Future Ready Iowa Summit will take place April 19 at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines. Several ABI leaders, including Roger Hargens of Accumold and ABI President Mike Ralston participated in the press conference announcing the summit.
Register for Iowa Business Day on Hill
As you have read in this week's newsletter, the ABI public policy team needs your help at the Capitol. What better way than to attend Iowa Business Day on the Hill.