March 4, 2021
ABI Priorities Clear First Funnel
Tomorrow marks the first legislative funnel of the 2021 legislative session, but all work was completed this afternoon. A number of bills have survived while others have fallen by the wayside. Most bills, except for primarily Ways & Means and Appropriations, must have passed through a full committee in either chamber to be considered eligible for the rest of the year. ABI staff has been successful in advancing member priorities.

With week eight in the books, we’re approximately halfway through the 2021 legislative session, which is set to adjourn on April 30. The list of bills below is a snapshot of some of the highest priority bills we’re tracking. If you have questions about these or other proposals, please contact JD Davis or Brad Hartkopf.

  • SF 492/HSB 203 – Unemployment Insurance Tax Reform – This key legislation makes several reforms to ensure the long-term solvency of Iowa’s unemployment insurance trust fund system including implementing a one-week waiting period for benefits, narrowing and strengthening the integrity of dependents payments, enhancing suitable work requirements and more. Both bills have passed through their respective Labor Committees and are eligible for floor debate. ABI position: For.
  • SF 361/HF 748 – Drug and Alcohol Testing Reform – A subcommittee of ABI members came together last fall to discuss improvements to Iowa’s private sector drug testing statute for employers. The result is legislation that is moving through the legislative process. The legislation flips the burden of proof from the employer to the plaintiff to prove allegations the employer violated the drug or alcohol testing code section. It also modernizes communication methods between employers and employees regarding the exchange of drug or alcohol testing results. The legislation is eligible for debate on the floors of both chambers. ABI position: For.
  • SF 390/HSB 133 – Broadband – Gov. Reynolds has put forward legislation that would incentivize private industry to facilitate the expansion of high-speed broadband in targeted service areas. Both bills have passed the committee level. Appropriations for broadband deployment will come later in the session as lawmakers craft the budget for FY22. ABI position: For.
  • HF 582/SF 295 – Housing – Another bill the governor has put forward is a housing omnibus that seeks to facilitate the creation of affordable and available workforce housing across the state. The legislation doubles the workforce housing tax credit program, creates a new tax credit program for developers, eliminates a cap on how much monies can go to local housing trust funds and more. Both bills are now in Ways & Means and alive for the rest of the session. ABI position: For.
  • Childcare – There are several legislative proposals aimed at making childcare more affordable and available this year. Bills related to addressing the cliff effect, providing tax credits to employers who provide childcare for their employees, expanding the number of children in-home providers can watch and more have advanced through the funnel deadline. ABI is tracking these bills as they continue to work their way through the legislative process. ABI position: Monitor. 
  • HF 592/SF 557 – Noneconomic Damage Caps for Medical Malpractice – The legislation caps noneconomic damages for medical malpractice cases at $1 million. HF 592 passed out of the House Human Resources Committee while SSB 1225 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. ABI position: For.
  • SSB 1235 – Disclosure Requirements – This regulatory reform bill exempts licensed and registered mortgage bankers from particular disclosures related to qualified mortgages if the points and fees charged to the borrower remain under a certain federal threshold. The bill passed the full Senate Commerce Committee today. ABI position: For.
  • HSB 233 – Manufacturing 4.0 – The legislation creates a Manufacturing 4.0 technology investment program that allows eligible manufacturers to apply for grants or loans to invest in smart technologies. It also includes first-year depreciation for companies who invest in the transition to a smart technology environment. The bill came out of House Economic Growth today. ABI position: For.
  • SF 455/HF 555 – Gas Bans – The legislation prohibits counties and cities from regulating the sale and use of natural gas and propane. Both bills have passed through the committee level. ABI position: For.
  • SF 537/HSB 259 – Motor Vehicle Tort Reform – The legislation aims to limit the liability of employers in the motor truck industry in multiple ways including limiting non-economic damages. Both bills are through the committee level. ABI position: For.
  • SF 362/HF 724 – Adoption Mandate – Bills that have passed Senate Labor and House Commerce require employers to treat employees who adopt a child in the same manner as they would biological parents of newborns concerning employment policies, benefits and protections for the first year. ABI position: Undecided.
  • SF 496 – Low-wage Non-compete Agreements – The bill prohibits employers from using non-competes with low-wage employees. Low-wage employee is defined as someone who makes $14.50 an hour or less. ABI has been successful in helping narrow the scope of this bill. There was another piece of legislation that was far more expansive than SF 496, but that bill did not move forward thanks to our work with the bill manager. ABI position: Undecided.
  • HF 706 – Telehealth 100% Parity – ABI supports telehealth as a means of delivering health care services. Several bills have been offered this session dealing with this subject matter. ABI inserts itself into the debate to ensure that employers are getting maximum value for those services and does not overpay for services that are not commensurate with in-person care. Insurers and provider networks are working on a non-legislative solution through contracting, which will meet that goal. We appreciate the policy focus the Legislature brings to the issue but prefer the non-legislative solution. ABI position: Undecided.
  • SF 339 – E-Verify Mandate – The bill requires that all employers regardless of size utilize the federal E-verify system here in Iowa. A second violation of the bill would mean a revocation of all business licenses at the particular entity where the alleged violation occurred. There is no House companion to the bill. ABI position: Against.
  • SF 485 – Pregnancy Accommodations – The legislation requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are pregnant or have a medical condition related to pregnancy. The bill was amended in committee that made it less problematic than the original bill, but it still creates penalties and allows for potential lawsuits against employers who violate the bill. ABI position: Against.
  • HF 729 – Pharmacy Benefit Managers and Pharmacies – Health plans offered by many ABI members use pharmacy benefit managers to help control the cost of prescription drugs and keep health plans offered to employees as affordable as possible. HF729, which is supported by pharmacies and some drug manufacturers, removes many of the cost controls from current practice and shifts costs between parties making health plans more expensive to offer for employers. The bill has passed the House Commerce Committee. There is no companion bill in the Senate. ABI position Against.
  • SF 193 – Prohibition of Vaccine Mandates – The bill mandates that employers cannot refuse to hire, discharge, penalize or otherwise discriminate against an employee based on their vaccine history or the employee’s refusal to receive a vaccine. The legislation flies directly in the face of Iowa’s status of being an at-will state. It was amended in committee, but kept the aforementioned division in the bill. ABI position: Against.

  • HF 121 – Rebuttable Presumption for COVID-19 – The legislation creates a rebuttable presumption for employees who can show they were exposed to someone who has COVID-19 in the workplace. This would require employers to pay workers’ compensation benefits to such employees. The bill did not advance. ABI position: Against.
  • SF 137 – FMLA – The bill creates a state program for paid family leave and medical leave for employees. The bill was assigned a subcommittee, but no hearing was held. ABI position: Against.
  • HF 122 – Minimum Wage Hike – The legislation would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15/hour over the course of the next four years. The bill had multiple sponsors, but ultimately did not receive a subcommittee assignment or hearing. ABI position: Against.
  • HF 275 – Paid Sick and Safe Time – “The Healthy and Safe Family and Workplace Act” requires minimum paid sick and safe time for all employees in the state. An employee could accrue up to 83 hours of such time each year. The bill did not move forward. ABI position: Against.

ABI Joins Letter Opposing PRO Act
This week, ABI joined hundreds of other state and national trade associations opposing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The legislation, which you read about in a previous ABI newsletter, could be debated as soon as next week. Here is the letter ABI signed. Click HERE to take action.

Federal Spotlight: White House Revokes COVID-19 Executive Order Banning Entry of Certain Immigrants
The White House has revoked Proclamation 10014, which was first imposed in April 2020 to suspend the “entry of immigrants who prevent a risk to the United States labor market” following the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more.

Federal Spotlight: Immigration Legislation Proposed
Congress recently introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which includes an eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and aims to reduce visa backlogs. The legislation is supported by President Joe Biden. The 353-page legislation also contains some provisions to expand employment-based immigration. Read more.
Connecting Statewide Leaders is Coming to Mason City
Join ABI members, Leadership Iowa current class and alumni, and community leaders for an engaging conversation about business/education partnerships. Learn how the business community and the education sector are working together to help move our state forward. Lunch and networking will follow. The event is on April 8, 11 a.m., in Mason City. Learn more and register here. Seating is limited and safety protocols will be in place.
Meet Our New Members

Advanced Heat Treat Corporation
American Petroleum Institute
Genova Technologies
SOO Green HVDC Link
Buy ABI Partner Invites You to Take DE&I Survey, Receive Report
Diversity matters. Not only is it the right thing to strive for, but a diverse workforce helps companies acquire and retain the best talent, build employee engagement, increase innovation and improve business performance. Yet organizational diversity initiatives often fail to make real progress.

You're invited to participate in the 2021 DE&I Attitudes Survey. is a valued Buy ABI partner. The company's goal is to understand attitudes and actions organizations are taking when it comes to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. The survey findings will reveal what other organizations are doing around these important initiatives.

Sign up to participate, and you'll receive instructions with next steps. Participating is easy, and in exchange for your participation, you'll receive a free copy of the survey report.
ABI Conference: The Best Business Networking in Iowa
Mike Ralston

About 90 days from now, ABI will host its 118th annual convention. Since last year’s conference had to be canceled, there is perhaps even greater excitement around the 2021 event. Before I share anything else, let me assure you that all possible measures are being taken to protect the health and safety of attendees. Social distancing, appropriate masking and everything else that can be done–will be done–to ensure a safe and terrific conference experience.

The ABI conference, Iowa's Taking Care of Business Conference, gets bigger and better each year. If you want to add value for your business, there is simply no better place for you to be than at this meeting. The 2021 edition will be the best ever, with hundreds of people converging on Coralville/Iowa City on June 8-10.

There will be three keynote speakers at the conference; that’s right, not one, but three. Nationally known authors, entrepreneurs and one of the world’s foremost STEM leaders are all on tap for this event.

As for other conference highlights, one is the area itself. Coralville and Iowa City are two of Iowa’s most forward-thinking cities. Major developments in the Iowa River Landing area are a highlight, as is getting to see our state’s newest athletics event center, the Xtream Arena, as a part of the conference. Keep reading.
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.

EMC National Life Company Announces Promotions and Officer Appointments 
EMC National Life Company (EMCNL) has announced several officer elections and elevations:

  • Scott Jean, FCAS, MAAA, president and chief executive officer of EMC Insurance Companies (EMC), will assume the additional role of chairman and chief executive officer of EMCNL, providing leadership to the life insurance company and life affiliate of EMC.
  • Chris Frazier, CPA, ALMI, ACS, was elected president and chief operating officer where he will develop and lead the implementation of business strategies and policies for EMCNL’s growth.
  • Mark DeVries, FSA, MAAA, CERA, was elected vice president, chief financial officer, overseeing the financial and actuarial management of the company.
  • Michelle Struck, ALMI, ACS, was elected assistant vice president, corporate secretary and operations manager, responsible for maintaining corporate records and documents, general office management and serving as a human resources liaison.
  • Maggie White, J.D., was named assistant corporate counsel at EMCNL, a position she will serve in alongside her role of associate general counsel with EMC.

"2021 HR Compensation Trends" Webinar is March 10
In this webinar presented by Buy ABI partner, you'll learn how to re-evaluate compensation and benefits in 2021, discover current pay trends and learn about the new pay reality. The discussion will include:
  • COVID-19 and social trend impacts on pay practices
  • The role of HR professionals 
  • Compensation and benefits trends in 2021 
  • What you need to know about DE&I 
  • HR metrics

Register now. Then join on March 10 at 1 p.m. and find out how to get pay right in 2021.

DMACC Announces Schedule for ciLive! Speaker Series
Get ready to amplify your creative thinking and be inspired. DMACC is pleased to announce the event schedule for the 12th Annual Celebrate! Innovation (ciLive! 12) Speaker Series, which is coming up on March 10-11 and will be held virtually for the first time since the event began in 2010. This year’s ciLive! theme is “Amplified,” and will focus on the exciting and different ways we can all amplify innovation through creative thinking and collaboration. All of this year’s speaker presentations will be livestreamed, at no cost to viewers, via e360tvYouTube and Facebook Live. Read the full news release.

"Biden's First 100 Days & Changes to Come" Webinar
Buy ABI partner hrsimple is hosting a webinar on March 23 at 11 a.m., and as an ABI member, you can register for free. Big changes are coming through federal regulatory agencies including the DOL, EEOC and the NLRB, and possibly Congress. Is your business prepared for more aggressive enforcement actions, expanded employee rights, an increased minimum wage, etc? This program is tailored to provide in-house attorneys and HR professionals an overview of the Biden administration’s goals for redefining the relationship between companies and their employees.

Site Selection Magazine Recognizes CRDC and City of Clinton for Industrial Projects
Site Selection magazine’s rankings issue is now live, and the City of Clinton has taken the #1 spot for per capita industrial projects in 2020 out of all the communities along the Mississippi River Valley Corridor. This designation recognizes the Clinton Regional Development Corporation's (CRDC’s) and the City of Clinton’s joint efforts. Read more from Site Selection magazine.
New Hire at Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust
Lyndsay Hobbs (pictured) has joined Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust as the assistant branch manager at the F Ave location. Hobbs returns to CRBT after previously serving as director of Kids Inc. Cedar Rapids.
Join the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for an Iowa Strategic Goals Program webinar on March 23 at 1 p.m. Iowa DNR staff will discuss:

  • Underground storage tank program – how to comply and updates on the horizon
  • EASY Air – update, overview of the online permitting tool, and tips and tricks for use
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE) – why and how it’s used, its management, alternatives and P2 opportunities

Register now and find materials from previous webinars and workshops.

Neumann Brothers Receives the 2021 Masters Award
Neumann Brothers has received the 2021 Masters Award from the Master Builders of Iowa. It was given for projects $1-10 million for historical restoration work on the Edna Griffin Building in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Neumann was the general contractor for the iconic Edna Griffin Building. Completed in 2020, the Edna Griffin project is more than a renovation–it is transforming a historic building into a modern-day landmark that commemorates the civil rights movement. Watch this video to learn more about the project.​