November 12, 2020
Iowa House and Senate GOP Select Leadership Teams for 2021; Petersen Steps Down as Senate Minority Leader
Following decisive election results for Republicans in the Iowa Legislature, both the House and Senate GOP caucuses met over the last week and chose their respective leaders for the coming year. The GOP will head into the 89th General Assembly with a 59-41 advantage in the House and a 32-18 majority in the Senate. Committee chairs are expected to be chosen in the near future. It was reported yesterday that Senate Democratic Minority Leader Janet Petersen will not seek re-election to her current post. Democrats in both chambers have yet to meet to choose their respective leadership. View the GOP leadership teams of both chambers below.

  • Senate
  • Jack Whitver of Ankeny (Majority Leader)
  • Jake Chapman of Adel (Senate President)
  • Brad Zaun of Urbandale (Senate President Pro-Tempore)
  • Amy Sinclair of Allerton (Majority Whip)
  • Carrie Koelker of Dyersville (Assistant Leader)
  • Chris Cournoyer of LeClaire (Assistant Leader)
  • Zach Whiting of Spirit Lake (Assistant Leader)
  • Mark Lofgren of Muscatine (Assistant Leader)
  • House
  • Pat Grassley of New Hartford (Speaker)
  • Matt Windschitl of Missouri Valley (Majority Leader)
  • John Wills of Spirit Lake (Speaker Pro-Tempore)
  • Mike Sexton of Rockwell City (Majority Whip)

Every Vote Counts: IA-02 Still Too Close to Call
After a whirlwind election with record turnout across the state and country, ballots are still being counted and results are being certified. In Iowa, the 2nd Congressional District has had Republican State Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and former 2018 Democratic Lt. Gov. nominee Rita Hart both in the lead. After counting errors in at least two counties, Miller-Meeks is currently leading Hart by 47 votes in a race where almost 395,000 votes were cast. You can see the current results. State law provides that Monday, November 9, 2020, was the last day properly postmarked mail-in absentee ballots could be received and counted in election totals. The Iowa Executive Council must certify the canvass of results by November 30, 2020. This race highlights the importance of encouraging as many Iowans as possible to vote and aligns with our messaging of #EveryVoteCounts.

Federal Spotlight: Snapshot of the Current State of Federal Elections
Though November 3 has come and passed, there are still a number of outstanding races that remain to be decided that will have a tremendous impact on the business community for 2021. Nearly every media outlet has called the presidency for Joe Biden though President Trump has yet to officially concede. The president has cited voting irregularities in key swing states, and his legal team has filed several challenges in court. On the Senate side...Keep reading.

ABI-Supported Regulatory Clarification Saves Millions; Session Delay Issued on Lease Vehicle Taxation Rule
The Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC) held its monthly meeting this past Tuesday and took two ABI-supported actions that will benefit employers. The first was the approval of filed rule ARC5226C. The rule updates the current aquatic life water quality criteria with the latest scientific information on metal toxicity. Based on new data, the current approach to measuring total recoverable metals is overly stringent and is being relaxed. Due to this change, the DNR estimates that total cost savings for certain wastewater dischargers will be between $85-$95 million. ABI, along with others, submitted comments in support of this rule change, which will provide greater flexibility for industry compliance.

A separate filed rule ARC5201C, which was put forward by the Department of Revenue, would have ended up double taxing transactions between members of a controlled group of business entities. ABI member Master Builders of Iowa laid out the case for why this rule shouldn’t move forward at this time, requesting a session delay on the rule so the Legislature could address this in 2021. Members of the ARRC voted unanimously in favor of delaying the implementation of the rule, which is very positive news for employers who would have been affected by it. If you have any questions about either rule, please contact JD Davis or Brad Hartkopf.

Early-Bird Registration for Midwest Environmental Compliance Conference Ends Today
The annual Midwest Environmental Compliance Conference (MECC) is set to take place in just a few weeks in Kansas City. The conference, which will be held from December 1-2, will feature a number of outstanding speakers and a variety of sessions. Participants will hear from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, EPA Region VII Administrator Jim Guilliford, a number of state environmental department heads, key players within the industrial space and more. Though most people will be attending virtually, there are a limited number of spots available for in-person attendance. View the full agenda and register for the conference.  

Vaccine Close: What is Iowa’s Approach?
With news of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trials going well and a vaccine available to some before the end of the year, we want to share IDPH’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy draft. You can find specific information, as of October 12, 2020, beginning on page 16. As an organization that represents health care workers, manufacturing workers and retail workers, we know a healthy Iowa workforce is essential. We will monitor this on the federal and state level as more information becomes available.

COST: Iowa Businesses High Share of Tax Liability
According to the annual business tax burden study by the Council on State Taxation (COST), Iowa businesses shoulder a larger portion of state and local taxes than businesses in California, Illinois and New Jersey to name a few. Although the overall corporate tax collection for Iowa’s general fund is low, Iowa businesses of all types pay a lot of taxes. This report doesn’t include local fees and state agencies’ permitting costs. Read the full report.
"Avoiding Workforce Disruptions: Business and Education Partnerships" Virtual Meeting is Nov. 18
Childcare has long been a major concern for Iowa workers, and the problem has only become more important in a pandemic. What can employers do to keep the economy moving while recognizing their employees’ childcare concerns?

Join ABI and CIRAS on Nov. 18, 9-11 a.m., for a two-hour webinar that will include a panel discussion and breakout sessions focused on how businesses can work more closely with schools and childcare providers to ease the childcare challenges that employees are facing.

The panel discussion–with business leaders from Story Construction, Lee Containers, Fairfield EDO, Vermeer and Casey’s General Stores–will be followed by breakout sessions focusing on employer/school board relationships and how companies can provide incentives and support for early childhood education.
Final Call for 2021 Conference Workshop Proposals
The countdown is on if you're interested in presenting a workshop at the 2021 Taking Care of Business Conference. Workshop proposals must be submitted by Dec. 1. The hour-long workshops will be held Wednesday, June 9. Attendees pre-register for workshops, and attendance typically ranges from 20-85 participants per workshop. Submit your proposal. Email questions to Emily Betz, conference programming co-chair, at
“Intersection of Unemployment and Child Care” Virtual Meeting Recording
Nicole Crain
Executive Vice President

ABI and its members have been working together to find solutions to the childcare challenges facing employees across the state.

Pre-pandemic, ABI partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on a report, Untapped Potential: How Childcare Impacts Iowa’s State Economy. As a result of that report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation supported two virtual events in October to discuss childcare.

The second event, Intersection of Unemployment and Child Care, was recorded, and I encourage you to watch it.

It featured:
  • Laurie Todd-Smith, director, U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau
  • Julia Barfield, senior manager of policy and programs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Dr. Todd-Smith shared statistics about employment from the U.S. Department of Labor. Barfield discussed childcare issues specific to Iowa and COVID-19.

Members view childcare through the workforce lens, and ABI has included it in our 2021 legislative priorities. As Barfield said during the virtual meeting, “We see childcare as a crucial step to bringing us to a stronger economy…Access to high-quality, affordable childcare allows us to have a strong workforce.”

To participate in a future childcare-related event like this, join ABI and CIRAS on Nov. 18 for Avoiding Workforce Disruptions: Business and Education Partnerships. Register now. This virtual meeting will focus on the challenges employers face when it comes to employee attendance and turnover.
Community State Bank Announces New Board Member 
Community State Bank has appointed Suzanna de Baca (pictured) to its board of directors. de Baca is president and group publisher of Business Publications Corporation, an Iowa-based media company that serves the business, cultural and philanthropic communities. Her background is in C-suite and senior leadership in the finance, healthcare and nonprofit sectors. See the full news release.
"Remote Work Beyond COVID-19: Practical and Legal Considerations" Webinar is Nov. 18
ABI's partners at hrsimple are hosting a webinar on Nov. 18, and as a member you receive a special 50% discount to attend with code CHAMBERMEMBER. Greg Grisham from Fisher Phillips will cover how remote work has and will affect labor and employment laws during and after COVID-19. Topics will include: how to avoid lawsuits and charges, maintaining legal compliance and how to help employers deal with the challenges of managing a remote workforce. Learn more and register.

ABI Members Recognized by EPA for Environmental Performance
A number of ABI members including Tyson Foods, Whirlpool Corporation, Proctor & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific Corporation and Heartland Express of Iowa have received the SmartWay Excellence Award by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The award celebrates best-in-class environmental leadership in the business community. For example, Tyson Foods has been leading the way in using transportation fleets that are more fuel-efficient. In fact, the company increased its average miles per gallon by almost 2.5% from 2018 to 2019 when the transition occurred. These companies are just five of 75 companies out of over 3,700 SmartWay partners to receive the award. ABI would like to congratulate all of these members on this extraordinary achievement! You can read the EPA's news release.

Ahlers & Cooney Recognized in Nine Practice Areas by U.S. News – Best Lawyers
Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., a Des Moines-based law firm, has been recognized in nine Tier 1 practice areas by U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” for its 2021 rankings. 
  1. Commercial Litigation
  2. Construction Law
  3. Education Law
  4. Employment Law – Management
  5. Litigation Labor & Employment
  6. Municipal Law
  7. Personal Injury Litigation Defendants
  8. Public Finance Law
  9. Workers’ Compensation Law Employers

Davis Brown Law Firm Recognized in "Best Law Firms" 2021 List by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers
Davis Brown was honored with recognition as a “Best Law Firm” in the Des Moines metropolitan area in the 2021 The Best Lawyers in America list. The ranking, produced by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers, lists the top law firms in the United States based on client feedback, information from the law firm and law firm leaders surveys, and the Best Lawyers peer-review.
Thirty Davis Brown practice areas were named in the recognition, honoring professional excellence and a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. See the full news release.