February 25, 2021
ABI Priorities Advance Ahead of Next Week’s First Legislative Funnel
Week seven of the 2021 Iowa legislative session is finished, and ABI legislative priorities continue to advance. In action that started Monday and concluded early Tuesday morning, the Iowa House Labor Committee passed HSB 203, which makes reforms to the Iowa Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund (IUITF) long sought by ABI. For a summary of the legislation, click here. The bill passed and is now eligible for floor debate. A Senate companion, SSB 1172, received approval from the Senate Labor Committee on Thursday afternoon and is eligible for debate in the full Senate. Please consider contacting your legislator and asking them to support the legislation. You can view a list of other key bills that saw action this week below.

  • HSB 233 – Manufacturing 4.0 Legislation – On Tuesday, HSB 233 advanced through a subcommittee in the House. Keep reading.

  • SSB 1049 – Freight Forwarder Tax Issue – ABI is fortunate to have members that are engaged in interstate consumer shipping and delivery. Keep reading.

  • HSB 217/SSB 1210 – Motor Vehicle Tort Reform – Both chambers have held subcommittees on legislation that limits the tort liability of businesses that employ drivers for trucking and delivery. Keep reading.

  • SSB 1126/HF 555 – Prohibition of Gas Bans – The legislation preempts local counties and cities from passing ordinances that would ban the use of natural gas and propane in their jurisdictions. Keep reading.

  • HF 309 – Individual Privacy Protections – On Tuesday, the House passed legislation that relates to the protection of privacy of individuals who are involved with tax exemption organizations. Keep reading.

  • HSB 218 – Adoption Mandate – A subcommittee and subsequently the House Commerce Committee passed HSB 218 this week. Keep reading.

Join Us: Legislative Update Tomorrow
With one week left until the first legislative funnel, tomorrow’s Legislative Update is a great opportunity to hear about the policies moving through the legislature and ask questions that are key to your business. If you haven't RSVPed for a previous update and want to join us tomorrow, please email Michelle Vollstedt.

Federal Spotlight: Changes to PPP Rules: Only Businesses with Fewer Than 20 Employees Can Apply for Relief for the Next Two Weeks
For the next two weeks, the only businesses that can apply for relief through the Paycheck Protection Program are ones with fewer than 20 employees. The two-week period started this Wednesday, and this change is one of several immediate adjustments to the rules of the program.

Another change modifies the loan’s funding formula for independent contractors, self-employed individuals and sole proprietors. Calculations will be based on gross income, rather than net income. This is expected to take effect the first week of March.

Borrowers convicted of a non-fraud felony or delinquent on their federal student loans will also have access to the loan program starting in March. Business owners who are Green Card holders or in the U.S. on a visa can also use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (TINs) to apply.

Congressional lawmakers are working to get the next relief package, named the America Rescue Plan, into law by mid-March. Read the White House Fact Sheet.

Federal Spotlight: Drug Companies Announce Plans to Boost Delivery of COVID-19 Vaccinations
Pfizer and Moderna both expect to have a combined 220 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine available for delivery by the end of March. Company leaders briefed the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations this Tuesday. 

The Food and Drug Administration has also provided an analysis finding the efficacy of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine meets the agency’s Emergency Use Authorization requirements. Upon getting this authorization, Johnson & Johnson reports the company will deliver 20 million doses by the end of March. The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet Friday to review the company’s request for Emergency Use Authorization to become the third vaccine available. 

Read more:
Register Now for #ABICON21
Registration is now open for the 2021 Taking Care of Business Conference at www.ABITakingCareOfBusiness.com. ABI's annual conference is June 8-10 in Coralville/Iowa City.

The conference will be at the Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, with additional activities at Finkbine Golf Course, Big Grove Brewery & Taproom, and Xtream Arena.

Speakers will include Dr. Tarika Barrett, STEM superstar and incoming CEO at Girls Who Code, and Geoff Colvin, Fortune senior editor-at-large and bestselling author. A third speaker will be announced.

The conference will also feature workshops from Iowa business experts on leading virtually; embracing diversity, equity and inclusion; marketing through storytelling; and more.
Support Students in Their Next Steps: Business Horizons Applications Now Open
The ABI Foundation asks for your support of our Business Horizons program. Business Horizons is an innovation simulation for Iowa high school students (grades 9-12) to get a better sense of how their strengths and skills can benefit themselves and others, now and in the future.

Put into teams, students take an idea from inception to investor pitch and develop a solution to a real-world problem. The week is filled with competitions, development workshops, keynote speakers, ‘after-hour’ activities and more. Participants go on to their next steps feeling confident about the future.

There are two ways you can help:
  1. Nominate or encourage students to join us July 18-22, 2021 at Central College in Pella by applying now at www.BusinessHorizonsIowa.com.
  2. Are you interested in promoting, volunteering or sponsoring? Contact our staff at info@businesshorizonsiowa.com or 515-280-8000.

We thank all involved in efforts to address Iowa's workforce needs alongside us. Business Horizons' presenting sponsor is Collins Aerospace.
Patent Ownership – Assignments
Luke T. Mohrhauser
Intellectual Property Attorney Partner
Co-Chair, Mechanical-Electrical Practice Group|
McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC

It is important to parse out ownership in intellectual property, as the owner(s) will control the rights of the IP. This includes, but is not limited to, control over use, enforcement of rights and transferability of the IP rights. The different types of IP have different laws and other rules indicating how ownership vests in creators and/or employers, patents included. In short, absent any agreement indicating how ownership of present or future inventions is to be handled, ownership of the patent rights, including at application and issuance, ownership vests in the inventors themselves. The present article will focus on ownership interests by an inventor’s employer and the assignment of rights to the employer by an inventor/employee.

As noted, in order for patent rights to transfer from an employee-inventor, an employer must have the employee agree to the transfer. Many employers include language in employee handbooks, policies, contracts or otherwise noted. For example, the assignment may be spelled out as being a consideration for the continued employment of the employee, as well as other perks, such as the use of the employer’s equipment to be able to work on inventions related to the employee’s job duties. For example, a designer for a manufacturer may be hired to create new designs for new products. The employer provides employment, as well as potentially state-of-the-art equipment for the development and/or testing of the designs. The employee gets to use all of this, and gets paid, while the employer is able to own any invention arising from the employment. Read more.
Price Transparency in Healthcare
Ben Vallier
The Iowa Clinic

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently enacted a rule that requires hospitals to publicly post pricing information. This entails listing standard prices for 300 “shoppable services” as well as the lowest acceptable price from those paying out of pocket.

Current healthcare cost trends are not sustainable. On average, employers cover two-thirds of the healthcare costs for their employees and are under more pressure than ever to provide affordable benefits. Increasing costs have forced businesses to pass more costs along to employees in the form of premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance. Families face healthcare expenses growth that has outpaced wage growth and discourage treatment.

This rule is an important step toward empowering better healthcare decisions. Ultimately, we’ll see more employers use this data to create employee care networks based on the highest quality at the lowest cost. Transparency promotes competition and choice which ultimately improves healthcare for everyone. 
Editor's note: "Trends to Watch" is a special pop-up column where Advisory Council members share trends that may impact your business.
Grain Processing Opens Large, High-Quality, Efficient Distillery
Grain Processing Corporation (GPC), member of the Kent Corporation family of companies, is now manufacturing significantly more of the high-quality alcohol its plants in Muscatine, Iowa and Washington, Indiana are known for among customers around the world. Since the start of the pandemic, GPC has supported the manufacture of millions of gallons of ethyl alcohol to support the production of essential products in the fight against COVID-19 including hand sanitizers, disinfectants, cleaners and surfactants, mouthwash, and cough and cold medicines, and in the manufacture of active pharma ingredients, vaccine components and COVID-19 testing reagents. Read the full news release.

Gilliland Receives Promotion at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Morgan Stanley announced Tuesday that John R. Gilliland, a financial advisor and portfolio manager in the firm’s wealth management office in Des Moines, has been promoted to vice president. Gilliland, who has been with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management since 2012, is a native of Knoxville, Iowa. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa and a law degree from Creighton University in Omaha.

New Resource Available to Help Employers Educate Employees About COVID-19 Vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines, highly effective and safe, offer hope and protection that can help our country continue to open back up. But vaccines alone won’t do the trick. As you all know, we must vaccinate a large majority of the American people, reduce health inequities and strengthen our public health infrastructure so we can be better prepared for the future. This new free resource is now available from the Health Action Alliance to help the business community engage employees, customers and employees.

Iowa Employment Conference is April 7-8
Iowa Employment Conference is excited to host the 2021 Employment, Training, Benefits & Wellness Conference. This conference is the largest of its kind in the state of Iowa, offering over 50 informative, interactive and educational sessions delivered by some of the top employment lawyers, payroll professionals, workforce development leaders and many others from Iowa and surrounding states. It remains an essential event for those who want to stay up-to-date and compliant with the latest developments in labor and employment law, best practices, healthcare reform, how-to’s and more. Learn more and register here.

Invitation to Take Survey: Assessing the Pandemic's Impact on Iowa Businesses and Nonprofits
The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is once again partnering with the University of Northern Iowa to undertake a survey to assess the current impacts of the pandemic on Iowa’s businesses and nonprofit organizations. Please take the survey by March 17 at 5 p.m. The IEDA will use the information collected through the survey to inform its public policy and programming in response to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on Iowa.