February 27, 2020
Bills that Received Action this Week
With the first funnel in the rearview mirror, the House and Senate began debating bills in earnest this week. The chambers are prioritizing floor time as a means of continuing to move legislation through the legislative process. Bills that ABI supports were approved on both sides of the rotunda. Below is a list of some bills ABI is tracking that saw action in Week 7 of the 2020 Legislative Session. 

  • SF2337 – Asbestos Tort Reform. On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate approved legislation that will end the practice whereby companies are named as defendants in asbestos cases where there is no link between the company and the individual bringing the action. Rather than being named in a lawsuit and having to fight their way out of the court action, the bill would require a party bringing suit to show some connection to the named defendants. The bill passed 30-19. ABI position: Support.

  • SF2338 – Med Mal & Phantom Damages. SF2338 passed out of the Senate 30-20 on Tuesday afternoon. The bill places a hard cap of $750,000 on noneconomic damages in cases of medical malpractice lawsuits. The second section of the legislation limits evidence of past medical costs to actual amounts paid rather than amounts that have been billed by providers. This ensures that any economic recovery in a civil action will be based on actual costs and not on amounts that were never paid. ABI position: Support.

  • HF2470 – Licensing Reform. Governor Reynolds' licensing reform legislation moved through a Ways & Means Subcommittee in the House this week. The bill sets up a reciprocity mechanism for those who already have a license in a skilled trade from another state to come into Iowa and practice that trade. The legislation also waives application fees for those under a certain income level when applying for licenses and gives those previously convicted of a crime a less cumbersome path to knowing whether or not they can be licensed in a particular field. ABI views this legislation as a means of reducing barriers to entering the workforce and bringing more skilled workers into the state. ABI position: Support.

  • SF2296 – Independent Contractors Operating Certain Vehicles. The bill ensures that truck drivers who are classified as independent contractors in Iowa remain independent contractors and are not classified as employees for the purposes of unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. The legislation passed the Senate 32-18. ABI position: Support.

  • HF2023 – Broadband Grants Tax Exemption. The bill ensures that broadband grants received by providers to expand broadband in underserved areas of the state aren’t subject to personal income and corporate income tax. The bill passed through House Ways & Means unanimously on Monday. ABI position: Support.

  • HF607 – Airplane Parts Tax Exemption. The legislation exempts airplane repair and replacement parts, maintenance services and remodeling from sales tax. Removes the requirement that must be used in scheduled/nonscheduled FAA to qualify. It was overwhelmingly approved by the House Ways & Means Committee this week. ABI position: Support.

ABI Legislative Update Call Tomorrow Morning
The public policy team will lead a teleconference call to talk about the latest at the Capitol. These approximately 30-minute calls provide ABI members with an opportunity to learn about the policy team’s efforts at the Capitol and also voice concerns or ask questions. The call will begin at 8 a.m. You can register by contacting  Michelle Vollstedt .

Candidate Filing Period Has Begun
Individuals looking to run for state or federal office now have the opportunity to file their paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office to make it official. The filing period for candidates is Monday, Feb. 24 through Friday, March 13 at 5 p.m. The primary election for Republicans and Democrats will be held on Tuesday, June 2. The winners will then face off in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3. You can find more information on the  Secretary of State's website .

Lyon Confirmed as DNR Director 
Kayla Lyon, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, was confirmed to that position by the Iowa Senate on Tuesday afternoon. The vote was overwhelmingly bipartisan at 43-7. Lyon was first appointed to the position by Gov. Reynolds last June. She is the first female director of the DNR. She previously served as Gov. Reynolds' legislative liaison during the 2019 session. Before that, she served as the governor’s agricultural and natural resources advisor. Prior to that she worked in government affairs for the Iowa Institute of Cooperatives.

Christensen Elected as Supreme Court Chief Justice
On Monday, Justice Susan Christensen was elected by her peers to serve as the next Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court. Christensen, who is from Harlan, will be the second woman to serve in that role. Christensen was the first of three justices Gov. Reynolds appointed to the High Court. Reynolds will appoint a fourth justice in the near future to replace retiring Justice Wiggins. Christensen was previously a district court judge and a district associate judge in Harlan. Her father, Jerry Larson, was the longest serving Iowa Supreme Court Justice in the state’s history. ABI would like to congratulate Chief Justice Christensen on her new role.

Kurtenbach to Resign as DAS Director
It was announced on Monday that Jim Kurtenbach, director of the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), will step down from his post effective March 6. Kurtenbach, who has been the head of the state’s human resources agency since last June, previously served as an Iowa State University accounting professor and administrator before Gov. Reynolds appointed him. As head of DAS, his position was subject to Senate confirmation, which requires a two-thirds vote. He’s also a former state representative and chair of the Republican Party of Iowa.

Federal Spotlight: DOL Issues Final Rule on Joint Employer Standard
The Department of Labor (DOL) unveiled its final rule for the definition of the joint employer standard on Wednesday. The rule, which falls under the National Labor Relations Act, has been restored to a more traditional definition that had been in place for decades until that was upended in 2015 by the Browning-Ferris decision via the National Labor Relations Board. To be considered a joint employer under the new rule, "a business must possess and exercise substantial direct and immediate control over one or more essential terms and conditions of employment of another employer's employees." Restoring the pre-Browning-Ferris definition of the Joint Employer Standard is a big and important win for the business community. 
See You in Cedar Rapids for #ABICON20
Why should you join us in Cedar Rapids this June for ABI's annual conference? Watch the conference promo video and find out. If you attended last year's conference in Ames, you might see yourself in the video! Get the scoop on all the speakers, workshops, activities and more at www.ABITakingCareOfBusiness.com . After you register, don't forget to book your hotel room; lodging is filling up fast.
Upcoming Event: Pre-employment Testing Process Seminar
During this popular seminar, experts will talk about substance abuse in the workplace, as well as testing physical abilities to match essential job demands. You will also receive information about new legislation, current trends, what to look for and more. The seminar is March 26, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., at ABI's office in downtown Des Moines. View the  agenda and  register .
Mike Ralston to Speak at Early Ed Summit in Washington, D.C.
ABI President Mike Ralston (pictured) will speak at the U.S. Chamber Foundation's Early Ed Summit in Washington, D.C. tomorrow morning. He will address the impact of how childcare challenges affect a state's workforce participation and economy, and the role of business in solving this challenge. Tune in to the live webcast tomorrow at 8:10 a.m. CST to hear Mike speak. Read more about the summit .
Take It Offsite: The Benefits of Taking Meetings to a New Location
Carly Flaws
Director of Marketing
Goodwill of Central Iowa

Meetings. The struggle is all too real for most business professionals. Studies show executives spend over 23 hours in meetings each week, and that doesn’t include the impromptu gatherings that don’t make it on the calendar.

But how do you efficiently eliminate meetings without sacrificing communication and collaboration? The challenge is to figure out the secret to making meetings as efficient and effective as possible. In a meeting-saturated world, conference rooms and meeting spaces inside your office can warp into a stale environment, often stifling the most creative professionals from new and innovative thinking. 

Take it offsite.

There are numerous benefits to taking important meetings offsite to maximize the outcome. Here are a few of them. Read more .
Kyle Kass Joins Honkamp Krueger Partner Group
Honkamp Krueger & Co., P.C. has announced the addition of Kyle Kass (pictured) , CPA, to the firm as partner. Kass joins the firm’s audit department with over 10 years of experience at a Big 4 firm in accounting and assurance. His experience includes serving clients in the industrial products, commercial services and supplies, and business services industries, with a focus in the areas of assurance, internal controls and SEC filings. He has specialized in the adoption of new accounting standards and assisting clients with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) compliance. Read more .
Milton Creamery Celebrates Completion of Major Facility Expansion
Earlier this month, internationally renowned and award-winning cheesemaker, Milton Creamery , finished its major operations expansion. The project, which began in spring 2019, will allow Milton Creamery’s operations and cheesemaking efforts to further expand and grow over the next several years. The project saw the construction of a 17,000 square foot facility designed to age up to 1.5 million pounds of their award-winning Prairie Breeze™ and other cheeses at any given time.
Kent Partners with Muscatine High School on Work-based Learning Project
Kent Corporation is partnering with a group of Muscatine High School students through an Iowa clearinghouse for a work-based learning project, part of Future Ready Iowa. The statewide program seeks to connect students and employers through shared projects that give students professional experience. “Kent is thrilled to be part of this work-based learning project with high school students in our home community,” said Carol Reynolds, corporate spokesperson for Kent Corporation. “It’s an opportunity for us to partner with youth and hopefully be a small part of exposing students to great jobs that exist not only across the state of Iowa, but right here in their hometown.” Read the full news release .

Career Mentors Needed
Future Ready Iowa mentors are needed for college students throughout the state who are pursuing degrees in high-demand occupations, including manufacturing. We encourage our members to take advantage of this opportunity to inspire the next generation to choose a career in manufacturing. As a Future Ready Iowa mentor, you will share your knowledge, connections and experience; develop your leadership skills; and represent your career field and organization. Learn more .