February 18, 2021
Two Weeks Until the First Funnel Deadline
The first legislative deadline of the 2021 session is fast approaching as lawmakers look to advance their priorities ahead of the first funnel in two weeks.

Most policy bills must advance through a full committee in either chamber by March 5 to be eligible for further consideration in the session. There are exceptions to this rule including bills related to appropriations, ways & means, government oversight and a few other areas. ABI staff is working to ensure that member priorities are also advancing, which is the case on a number of issues that you can read more about below.

  • HSB 203/SSB 1172 – Unemployment Insurance Tax Reform – The House and Senate both held subcommittees on this ABI priority legislation. The bill does a number of things to make the Iowa unemployment insurance tax climate more competitive including implementing a one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits, strengthening the integrity of payments related to dependents, enhancing suitable work requirements, eliminating business closing wage credits and benefit weeks, and more. The legislation was considered by both subcommittees and is eligible to be considered in both chambers’ Labor Committees. ABI staff encourages you to contact your legislator and ask that they support this legislation. You can find your legislator here. If you have any questions about the legislation, please contact JD DavisABI position: For. 

  • HF 283 – Synthetic Urine Prohibition – The House on Tuesday, and the Senate on Wednesday, passed this workplace safety legislation sought by ABI. The bill creates criminal penalties for those who would use synthetic urine, expel their urine beforehand or use somebody else’s urine in an effort to defraud a drug or alcohol test. The bill passed both chambers with bipartisan support and now heads to Gov. Reynolds for her consideration. ABI would like to thank Rep. Brian Lohse and Sen. Waylon Brown for their leadership in managing this bill. ABI position: For.

  • HF 582 – Governor’s Housing Bill – The legislation came out of the Economic Growth Committee on Wednesday. The bill doubles the workforce housing tax credit and increases the rural set aside within that tax credit program. HF 582 also has other elements designed to facilitate the construction of affordable and available workforce housing across the state. The bill now heads to the Ways & Means Committee and is eligible for consideration for the remainder of the session. ABI position: For.

  • SF 390 – Governor’s Broadband Bill – The legislation moved out of the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. Incentives are offered to private industry for facilitating the expansion of broadband in targeted service areas as defined in the bill. There are no appropriations in SF 390, as that will be considered in another piece of legislation later on during session. ABI is advocating to preserve the 100x100 upload and download speeds in the bill as introduced. ABI position: For.

  • HF 517 – Medical Malpractice Caps – The legislation would impose a $1 million dollar hard cap on noneconomic damages for medical malpractice lawsuits. The bill advanced out of subcommittee on Tuesday and out of the full Human Resources Committee today. ABI position: For.

  • HF 555/SSB 1126 – Prohibiting Gas Bans – The legislation would prohibit counties and cities from regulating the sale of natural gas and propane. HF 555 passed out of House Commerce with bipartisan support and is now eligible for floor debate in the House. SSB 1126 was approved in a Senate subcommittee today. Some states and municipalities in other parts of the country have implemented gas bans that will increase energy and construction costs. The legislation is necessary to preempt this kind of public policy from being implemented at the local level in Iowa. ABI position: For.

State Sen. Jim Carlin Running for U.S. Senate
Iowa State Sen. Jim Carlin (R-Sioux City) officially announced on Monday that he will run for the Republican nomination in Iowa’s 2022 U.S. Senate race. Carlin, a trial attorney and Army veteran, was first elected to the Iowa House in 2016 and then won a special election to the Iowa State Senate at the end of 2017. Incumbent Sen. Charles Grassley (R-New Hartford) has not officially announced whether or not he will seek his eighth term to the U.S. Senate. His decision is still “several weeks off” according to comments he made to reporters a few weeks ago. You can read more from the Des Moines Register.

Federal Spotlight: Iowa Employers Should Keep Close Eye on the Anti-Business Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act
Significant anti-jobs legislation reintroduced this month by federal lawmakers will hurt Iowa businesses and tip the federal labor laws in favor of unions. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is a comprehensive bill that seeks to strip Right to Work laws in Iowa and 26 other states. It would also implement policies such as joint-employer status. Companies would be responsible for violations by their contractors or franchisees, even without possessing or exercising substantial, direct or immediate control over its essential terms and conditions of employment or its employees. It will also be harder to classify workers as independent contractors and it limits worker flexibility. There is also a privacy concern: Iowa employers would have to turn over confidential employee information to unions without their input. All these proposals will harm employer-employee relationships.

ABI key priorities include protecting the right to work and ensuring there are no forced union dues. ABI is a member of the National Association of Manufacturers, which provided this quick reference. This bill passed the House last year, but did not progress beyond that. ABI will continue to monitor this bill and provide members with the latest updates.

Geoff Colvin to Speak at #ABICON21
Geoff Colvin, senior editor-at-large at Fortune and a bestselling author, will speak at ABI's annual conference in June.

Colvin is now in his fourth decade at Fortune. He is one of business journalism’s sharpest and most respected commentators on leadership, management, globalization, government regulation, corporate
governance, competition, the economy, the infotech revolution, human performance and related issues.

Geoff is also a respected author whose groundbreaking international bestseller, "Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else," has been published in a dozen languages.

The 2021 Taking Care of Business Conference is June 8-10 in Coralville/Iowa City. Registration opens Feb. 25 at www.ABITakingCareOfBusiness.com.
Reminder: Register for Next Week's Webinars
Next week ABI is hosting three webinars–all on topics requested by members. Please join us for any or all of them. There is no cost for members to attend.

  • COVID-19 Economic Aid Overview for ABI Members (Hosted by SBA's Iowa District Office) | Feb. 22 | 11 a.m. | Register

  • There is a New Sheriff in Town (Anticipated Federal Changes in Environmental Law/Regulations) | Feb. 23 | 10 a.m. | Register

  • H-1B Cap Season: What to Expect in 2021 | Feb. 24 | 11 a.m. | Register
The Hidden Opportunities Inside Every Layoff

And How Outplacement Can Turn a Tough Decision Into a Win-Win-Win
Marni Hockenberg
Hockenberg Search

Job Eliminations … Rightsizing … RIFs…

Whatever you call them—and no matter how necessary they are—layoffs are painful.

They’re also costly, in more ways than initially meet the eye. 

The minute you decide to terminate an employee, you are faced with a series of other critical decisions. Should you hire an outplacement firm to provide professional assistance with their job search? If so, which firm is the best choice? And for many companies, that question is answered by crunching the numbers. Unemployment costs and litigation risks are weighed against the “expenses” of outplacement support.

And that’s the problem. 

Far too often, small to midsized companies look only at the fee side of the equation. But times have changed—and so has the equation. 

Today, factors that may once have seemed purely “emotional” can have enormous long-term financial impacts on your company. Why? Because we’re living in a social media-driven world. And here, every choice you make about how you will treat your departing employee isn’t just a message “to them, about them.” 

It’s a message about you, your company and your brandAnd it’s a message that can go viral in an instant, leaving you with no way to get ahead of it. Keep reading.
Cemen Tech Acquires Contech Testing & Consultancy
Cemen Tech has acquired Contech Testing & Consultancy LTD, which provides a full range of services for concrete testing, mix design creation and concrete production quality control. Contech will continue to operate under its current name as a division of Volumech, Cemen Tech’s existing UK operation. This acquisition expands Volumech’s offerings to ensure their customers in the UK have even more access to expert guidance not only on their equipment, but on the concrete itself. Read the full news release.

"Employee Handbooks: Potential Revisions for 2021" Webinar is Feb. 24
Buy ABI partner hrsimple will host a webinar on Feb. 24 at 10-11 a.m., and as an ABI member, you can register for free. Join Emily Pontius from Fredrikson & Byron as she dives into employee handbooks and the revisions to come in 2021. The world of work has experienced upheaval and change in the last year due to COVID-19, racial unrest and a divisive election. This session will examine potential changes to keep your employee handbook in step with the times. Special attention will be paid to workplace safety, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, and remote work. Register now.

R&R Brokers Names Top Producers and Rising Stars
R&R Real Estate Advisors (REA), the brokerage subsidiary of R&R Realty Group (R&R), recognized its top brokers of 2020 this week. Senior Vice President Adam Kaduce was named 2020’s Top Warehouse Producer for closing 31 deals and leasing 200,000 square feet of commercial space. Senior Vice President Chris Curran was named Top Office Producer for a total of 33 deals closed and 140,000 square feet leased in 2020. Receiving the “Top Prospector” award was Alec Wilcox for his impressive outreach in an otherwise unusual and difficult year.

R&R also announced the promotion of three brokers within the company. Maria Davis and Mark Mills were both promoted to the role of commercial real estate director and Alec Wilcox was promoted to commercial real estate manager.

3M Commits to Achieving Carbon Neutrality, Reducing Water Use and Improving Water Quality
3M announced Tuesday it expects to invest approximately $1 billion over the next 20 years to accelerate new environmental goals: achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, reduce water use by 25% at its facilities and return higher quality water to the environment after use in manufacturing operations. “As we grow 3M, we will lead in environmental stewardship, social equity and justice, and corporate governance,” said 3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman. Read the full news release.

"An Economic Outlook for the Construction Industry" Webinar is March 3
In this webinar hosted by CSDZ, you'll learn to 1) Examine the market forecast for the construction industry and understand the outlook beyond the numbers, 2) Understand the projections for the Midwest and the relevant story behind the story, 3) Understand the drivers of the forecast and the ramifications for the short- and long-term and 4) Examine the action steps that will help position the industry leaders to win. Learn more and register here.