February 4, 2021
Week Four Concludes; ABI Priorities Taking Shape
Several of the policy priorities identified by ABI members during the past summer and fall are on the move. Drug testing, worker housing initiatives, high-speed broadband deployment and the first initiative on continued tax reform have all been introduced, and some are ready for committee approval. A list of the mentioned initiatives is below. For an in-depth understanding of the status of the legislation, please join ABI public policy staff every other Friday during session via Zoom. The next update is Friday, Feb. 12, at 8 a.m. You can sign up by emailing Michelle Vollstedt.

  • SSB 1055 – Drug testing – A substantive bill related to drug testing causation was introduced in the Senate Labor Committee. The bill changes the burden of proof in Iowa’s drug testing law. The proposal requires employees who bring drug testing lawsuits against employers to prove their case rather than placing the burden on the business to disprove the claims of the lawsuit. The bill was heard in subcommittee this week and is now eligible for full Labor Committee consideration. Thanks to Senate Labor Chair Zach Whiting for managing this bill for ABI. ABI position: For.

  • HSB 133/SSB 1089 – Governor’s broadband bill – The legislation provides increased incentives to those who install broadband at certain speeds in targeted service areas. ABI supports the legislation as it fulfills the 2021 ABI infrastructure priority. A Senate subcommittee has been held on the bill, and this issue is a shared bipartisan priority in the legislature. ABI position: For.

  • SSB 1142/HSB 178 – Governor’s housing initiatives – This week the governor’s initiatives to create additional affordable, available worker housing were introduced in the House and Senate, with the Senate scheduling an initial subcommittee today. Like the broadband legislation, there is bipartisan support for the initiative. Organized under Iowa Finance Authority Director Debi Durham, several tax credit programs would receive increased capacity and a new credit for developers constructing affordable workforce housing is created. The legislation fulfills a key workforce policy goal of ABI. ABI position: For.

  • SSB 1145/HSB 174 – Governor’s tax initiatives – Among other smaller changes, the governor’s initiative would eliminate conditional revenue and growth triggers that must be met to trigger reductions in income tax rates. The bill would also eliminate any state taxation on state and federal grant program dollars received to cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The elimination of the triggers would provide certainty in tax planning and could lead to increased economic growth. ABI position: For.

Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board Report Released
Gov. Reynolds announced during her press conference today that the Economic Recovery Advisory Board report is now available. The board, which was formed last summer, consists of a number of executives–including ABI members–who looked at how Iowa could improve in a variety of sectors as the state seeks to recover from COVID-19. Some of the top recommendations, which line up with ABI priorities, include addressing child care barriers, expanding broadband across the state, and also growing and strengthening our workforce housing stock. The governor has unveiled a number of bills related to these topics that are currently being considered by the Legislature. You can view the report here.

Get Involved: Participate in Legislative Updates
Although no formal day on the hill is planned for 2021, there are several opportunities for you to stay engaged in the public policy activities at ABI. As noted above, every other week during the legislative session a Zoom update will be held. All members are invited to participate in this process. Additionally, you can follow Brad Hartkopf and JD Davis on Twitter to find out what’s happening each day at the Capitol. You can also reach out via email or phone to get updates on issues you’re concerned about. Finally, we hope that you will continue to maintain relationships with your local elected officials. Send them emails and participate in their virtual or in-person issue forums that are scheduled throughout the legislative session. Your voice is critical to the success of ABI. As the legislative proposals continue to take shape, check your email for more information throughout session. To find your elected official, go to iavotes.com.

Governor Names Bousselot as Budget Director
Gov. Reynolds announced on Monday that she has selected Michael Bousselot to be the director of the Department of Management. Bousselot, who replaces retired Director Dave Roederer, previously served as chief of staff, legal counsel and policy advisor under former Gov. Branstad’s administration. Prior to joining the Reynolds administration, Bousselot was with the law firm Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath. His appointment becomes effective on Monday, Feb. 8, and is subject to Senate confirmation. Read more here.

DNR Wastewater and Drinking Water Rules Meeting Postponed to Next Wednesday
Due to technical difficulties in the online format, yesterday’s previously planned stakeholder meeting is being pushed to this coming Wednesday, Feb. 10, from 1-3 p.m. The deadline to submit comments regarding the proposed rules will also be extended until Wednesday, Feb. 17. You may view documents necessary for the meeting here. Register for the meeting here.

Federal Spotlight: GOP Senators Propose Alternative COVID-19 Relief Package to Biden
A number of Republican U.S. Senators met with President Joe Biden on Monday to discuss a COVID-19 relief package they are offering as a counter to the $1.9 trillion bill that Biden has put forward. Republicans, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, are putting forward an approximately $600 billion package that would include another round of direct payments to qualifying individuals, offer more funding for vaccine distribution and testing, and extend federal unemployment benefits among other things. Their offer comes as progressives are encouraging the president and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to use budget reconciliation to pass a bill–meaning they’d only need a simple majority of votes in both chambers to pass a COVID-19 relief bill. The outcome of this issue could set the tone for how the rest of the 117th Congress plays out.  
First #ABICON21 Speaker Announcement: Tarika Barrett
STEM superstar Dr. Tarika Barrett, COO at Girls Who Code, will be a featured speaker at ABI's annual conference in June.

Girls Who Code is an international nonprofit working to close the gender gap in technology. In this role, she oversees the organization's free summer immersion program and after-school clubs program. The programs have reached 300,000 girls around the world. Read her full bio here by clicking on the Speakers tab.

The 2021 Taking Care of Business Conference will be June 8-10 in Coralville/Iowa City. Registration opens Feb. 25 at www.ABITakingCareOfBusiness.com.
Webinar to Discuss Biden Administration's Effect on Environmental Law/Regulations
Join us on Feb. 23 for a free webinar, "There is a New Sheriff in Town," for an overview of anticipated federal changes in environmental law and regulations under the Biden administration.

The discussion will touch on:
  • How potential changes in the rules and regulations could be implemented
  • Hot button environmental topics for the new administration including what environmental justice is, potential air permitting changes, climate change and clean energy initiatives, and the status of the constantly evolving definition of Waters of the U.S.

Speakers will include attorneys Ellen Hames with BrownWinick Law Firm and Mark Thimke with Foley & Lardner LLP. Register now.
An Important Interview about Childcare and Workforce in Iowa
Nicole Crain
Executive Vice President

Access to quality child care is a critical workforce issue for Iowa. It has a profound impact on employers and employees alike—and a shortage of child care options in our state has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

ABI has been advocating for child care solutions on behalf of members and their workforce by partnering on important research, hosting enlightening events to discuss challenges and solutions, lobbying at the Statehouse, and joining the Iowa Business and Child Care Coalition.

One of those partners is Julia Barfield, senior manager of policy and programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Center for Education and Workforce. She was recently interviewed by Jeff Stein of the Iowa Business Report about how access to affordable child care is a key element in developing and growing workforce in Iowa and across the country.

It’s an important discussion, and I encourage you to listen to the 13-minute episode. In it, Barfield shares discussions employers and employees should be having right now, as well as helpful resources for your team.

Special thanks to Jeff Stein for letting us share the podcast with you. And thank you to Julia Barfield for recognizing ABI for “doing great work in raising up this issue” during the episode.

Also, keep an eye out for the February issue of ABI’s news magazine, Business Record Iowa, which comes out on the 12th. The cover story is about how members are innovating to tackle Iowa’s child care challenges.
Sukup Announces a Growing Executive Team
Sukup Manufacturing Co. will be expanding its executive team with the addition of a chief administrative officer and a chief operating officer. Emily Schmitt, a third-generation family member, has been promoted to chief administrative officer and general counsel. Sukup is actively searching for an experienced manufacturing executive for the newly created COO role to lead manufacturing, distribution and facility optimization. Read the full news release.

MHCS Announces Appointment of Tax Principal
McGowen Hurst Clark Smith (MHCS), a certified public accounting and business advisory firm, has announced the promotion of Nick Finkenauer, CPA from tax director to tax principal. Finkenauer serves in the tax department and leads the real estate & construction market at MHCS. He also works in partnership taxation, state and local tax (SALT), and closely held businesses. Read the full news release.

Paul Rupprecht Inducted Into Real Estate Hall Of Fame
R&R Realty Group (R&R) is proud to announce that Paul Rupprecht, president of R&R Real Estate Advisors, was selected as an inductee into the Midwest Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame’s 2020 class. Rupprecht has spent nearly 30 years in the commercial real estate industry and is responsible for leading R&R’s brokerage subsidiary, R&R Real Estate Advisors. Read the full news release.

EMC Announces 2020 Charitable Giving and Community Involvement Impact
EMC Insurance Companies and the EMC Insurance Foundation have announced their charitable giving and community involvement impact for 2020. Each year, EMC Insurance Companies allocates the equivalent of one-tenth of one percent of the prior year's surplus to grantmaking through the EMC Insurance Foundation. With last year's contributions, the foundation's charitable giving on record passed the $27 million mark since its establishment in 1989. Read the full news release.