February 11, 2021
Week Five Concludes and ABI Priorities Are On the Move
Several key pieces of ABI’s public policy priorities are moving through the legislative process at the state Capitol. Reforms to Iowa’s employer-funded unemployment insurance program to promote fund solvency, protect Iowa economic competitiveness and ensure appropriate support for workers who find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own have been introduced in SSB 1172 and HSB 203.

Changes to Iowa’s drug testing law advanced through the Senate Labor Committee this week. SSB 1055 changes the burden of proof required in court proceedings that arise from allegations by employees that drug testing protocols have not been followed by employers. Under current law the employer must prove they are innocent of the charges. The legislation rightly returns the burden to those bringing court action to prove their case.

Workforce housing tax credits are doubled in legislation (HSB 178 and SF 295) that passed the House subcommittee and out of the Senate Local Government Committee.

The governor’s broadband initiative to create a $450 million grant program for broadband deployment has been considered by respective subcommittees (HSB 133 and SSB 1089).

More bills than can be listed here are in some state of consideration to address the availability and affordability of child care in Iowa. To learn more about these initiatives and details on other ABI priorities making their way through the legislative process, please join us on our twice-monthly legislative update. The next one is tomorrow, Feb. 12, at 8 a.m. Please contact Michelle Vollstedt to join the Zoom meeting.

Governor Announces Manufacturing Roadmap for Iowa
The governor just announced the state’s Manufacturing 4.0 roadmap to help Iowa manufacturers remain globally competitive. You can read the full report here. The report comes as a result of more than a year of work coordinated by the Economic Development Authority and co-chaired by two ABI member companies-–Pella Corporation and Ramco Innovations. Additionally, more than 100 individuals from small and large manufacturers and in urban and rural Iowa provided feedback. Thank you to the many members who participated in this effort to help lead Iowa’s next manufacturing revolution. The recommendations also include a policy component, so watch for future updates as to the progress of this initiative.

Environmental Webinar Takes Place in Two Weeks
ABI members BrownWinick Law Firm and Foley & Lardner LLP will lead an in-depth webinar on federal laws and regulations related to the environment on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The webinar, set to take place at 10 a.m., gives you an opportunity to hear from two experts about environmental policy changes that could occur under the Biden administration. Some of the topics expected to be covered include changes to rules and regulations, climate change and clean energy initiatives, potential air permitting changes, environmental justice and more. You won’t want to miss this opportunity, so be sure to register. There is no cost to attend. 

Federal Spotlight: Minimum Wage Increase Sought in Latest COVID-19 Relief Bill
Democratic leaders in both the U.S. House and Senate are seeking to include a $15 federal minimum wage increase in the next COVID-19 aid package. The proposed increase, which would more than double the current minimum wage of $7.25, would be phased in over a period of time. However, because Democrats are using budget reconciliation, a procedural tool that allows them to pass certain budget measures with a simple majority vote, particular policies cannot fit underneath that procedure.

The ultimate determination will come from the Senate parliamentarian who will play an outsized role in this Congress because of efforts like this and the Senate being tied at 50-50. Regardless of whether or not a minimum wage increase can be included under budget reconciliation, Democrats can’t afford to lose one vote and are already running into resistance from some moderates concerning the size of the proposed increase. Read more from CNBC
New! COVID-19 Economic Aid Overview for ABI Members
SBA's Iowa District Office and ABI are hosting an overview of the SBA’s COVID-19 Economic Assistance Programs for ABI members. This one-hour session will be held via Microsoft Teams Live and provide a general overview of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL), SBA Debt Relief program for its regular loan programs, and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG). There is no cost to attend. To RSVP and receive login information, email Holly Mueggenberg at hmueggenberg@iowaabi.org. 
Just Announced: H-1B Webinar on Feb. 24
Join ABI for a webinar, "H-1B Cap Season: What to Expect in 2021," on Feb. 24 at 11 a.m. H-1B season is well underway and the application process is shaping up to look similar to the 2020 filing season. With the recent announcement from USCIS that the H-1B lottery will remain intact, Kailey Blazek, an attorney for the BrownWinick Law Firm, will explain what this means for employers and applicants. She will also discuss the registration process and raise critical deadlines for 2021 cap candidates. There is no cost to attend. Register now.
ABI to Host "Workers’ Compensation: Best Practices" Webinar
HR, risk management and compliance teams: Learn from experts and get critical updates on Iowa laws at our “Workers’ Compensation: Best Practices” webinar. The webinar is on March 23 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Presentations will include:

  • 2021 Legislative Update
  • Conducting Accident Investigations … The Right Way!
  • Help Me Help You: Workers’ Compensation Risk Mitigation
  • Enhancing Safety Through Ergonomics
  • What Does Your Insurance Carrier Think of Your Return to Work Program?

Learn more and register here. Event registration is $60 for members and $75 for not-yet-members.
#ABICON21 Registration Opens Soon
Set a reminder: Registration for the 2021 Taking Care of Business Conference goes live on Feb. 25 at www.ABITakingCareOfBusiness.com. And mark your calendar for the conference itself, June 8-10, in Coralville/Iowa City.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Share Your Expertise with Thousands of Iowa Executives in the ABI Blog
David Hildahl
Communications Manager

The words you’re reading right now could be yours instead of mine.

Your content.

Your expertise.

Representing your organization.

One of the benefits of ABI membership is the opportunity to publish in the ABI blog. When you submit a blog post for consideration, it has the potential to reach thousands of business leaders across the state and beyond.

Participating is easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Write your post. Some members write custom content. Others share articles they’ve written previously for op-eds, newsletter articles or blog posts on other sites. All we ask is that the blog posts be educational. (In other words, give us your hard-earned wisdom, not your sales pitch.)
  2. Submit your post for review. Our editorial team—made up of representatives from ABI’s executive, membership and communication departments—will review your submission to make sure it’s a good fit for your fellow members. (Want to really impress the editorial team? Stay within the recommended word count—about 400-600 words per submission.) Posts about time-sensitive topics receive top priority and may be fast-tracked; posts with more evergreen content are published in the order they are received.
  3. Read and share your post online. Member blog posts appear on ABI’s website the second, third and fourth Thursday of every month. Each post is promoted in our weekly Voice of Iowa Business newsletter and on social media.

Ready to get started? Please email your submission to me at dhildahl@iowaabi.org, and include a photo of the author, their job title and their email address. Note that each member company may submit one blog post per quarter.

We look forward to your submissions. Your participation and your insight are invaluable to ABI, our mission and our members.
Agri-Industrial Plastics Company (AIP) has pledged $100,000 to Jefferson County Kids’ new child care center capital campaign. “We are proud to be part of the Jefferson County Kids child care center campaign. AIP has always made it a priority to support our employees and the community at large. This child care center fills a need in our community and is a great support for working families,” said Lori Schaefer-Weaton, president of AIP. Read the full news release.

hrsimple to Host COVID-19 Vaccine Webinar on Feb. 17
The COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be widely available in the coming months, and employers are wondering if COVID-19 vaccinations should be required. Buy ABI partner hrsimple will host a webinar on Feb. 17, 12-1 p.m., that will answer that question and dive into: 

  • Legal and practical considerations regarding the vaccine
  • Options regarding requirements
  • Considerations for transitioning back to the workplace after vaccinations

Registration is free for ABI members. Learn more and register here.

Holmes Murphy to Host "Cybercrime: Readiness & Resilience" Webinar
Holmes Murphy will host a webinar, "Cybercrime: Readiness & Resilience," on Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. You will leave with a greater understanding of the cyber threat landscape, how your business may be impacted, what to do if you suspect you've been subject to a cyber incident and best practices to implement a robust cybersecurity program. Register now.

Pella Donates $10,000 to SMC Ambulance Acquisition
From KMA Land: "The drive to acquire a new ambulance in Shenandoah has been given a big boost by a local business. Officials with Shenandoah Medical Center announced this week that Pella Corporation has donated $10,000 to support the purchase of a new ambulance for the Shenandoah Ambulance Service." Read the full article.

MHCS Promotes 10 Associates
McGowen Hurst Clark Smith (MHCS), a certified public accounting and business advisory firm, recently announced these 10 associates have received promotions:

  • Allie Kafer, CPA was promoted from senior accountant to supervisor 
  • Austin Steinkamp was promoted from accounting specialist to senior accounting specialist  
  • Deb Perkins was promoted from accounting specialist to senior accounting specialist 
  • Jose Garcia, CPA was promoted from supervisor to manager  
  • Kendra O’Neill was promoted from accounting specialist to senior accounting specialist 
  • Kristina Spieker, CPA was promoted from manager to senior manager  
  • Liz Krause, CPA was promoted from supervisor to manager  
  • Makayla Fagen, CPA was promoted from supervisor to manager  
  • Marissa Hunter, CPA was promoted from staff auditor to senior auditor  
  • Molly Knobbe was promoted from staff auditor to senior auditor