December 19, 2019
ABI Public Policy Staff Presents at Gov. Reynolds' Budget Briefing
JD Davis, ABI vice president of public policy, provided testimony to Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg on Tuesday during their annual state budget hearing. The importance of continued investment in the workforce development aspects of Future Ready Iowa were stressed. Gov. Reynolds thanked the members of ABI that met with her during roundtable discussions held around the state and for the insight those employers provided. The governor announced at the hearing she is recommending $13 million in funding in the FY2021 budget for Future Ready Iowa. Thank you to those who attended the roundtables and advocated for a focus on workforce development. Your efforts are creating results.

U.S. House Expected to Approve Historic Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada
The United States House of Representatives will pass the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) today. It's very likely the USMCA, which will replace NAFTA, will pass with strong bipartisan support as the vote is scheduled to take place sometime this afternoon. Following passage in the lower chamber, it head to the Senate where it is expected to be considered once the impeachment trial of President Trump concludes. Read more .

REC Projects Steady Growth Moving Into Future
The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met last week and announced the state is expected to see continued growth moving into Fiscal Year 2021. The three-person panel meets in March, October and December each year to provide estimates concerning the state’s budget. The Legislature uses these estimates when it creates the budget for the new fiscal year. The December REC is projecting tax collections of $8.015 billion for FY20, which is a 2.0% growth from FY19. This is the first time the state will have collections over $8 billion. Read more .

DOT Director to Step Down Next Month
Mark Lowe, director of the Department of Transportation, has submitted his resignation at the request of Gov. Reynolds, which is effective Jan. 10, 2020. The announcement was made last week. Before leading one of the state’s largest agencies, Lowe was the department’s general counsel and then appointed interim director by former Gov. Branstad in November 2016. Gov. Reynolds named Lowe the permanent director in May 2017. A DOT spokesperson has said a transition plan to appoint a new director has not been announced yet. Read more from the Quad-City Times .

Education Director to Leave Post Next Year
Ryan Wise, director of the Department of Education, announced on Wednesday that he would be leaving the department sometime next year to become dean of the Drake School of Education in Des Moines. Wise has been director of the Education Department since he was first appointed by former Gov. Branstad in 2015. Gov. Reynolds reappointed him last January. He is slated to begin his new position no later than June 30. 

DOR Releases Latest Contingent Liabilities Report
The Iowa Department of Revenue unveiled the December 2019 Contingent Liabilities Report this week. The  report  is published every March, October and December. It gives guidance to the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) regarding the condition of the state’s tax credits, which helps the REC forecast the state’s budget. This comprehensive report has several bits of important information. One highlight to note is tax credit awards in FY19 decreased 17.7% from FY18 to $201.9 million. The Legislature will certainly review this report as it considers changes to the tax code next year.

Federal Spotlight: Budget Deals Contain Vital Wins for the Business Community
Congress will approve a $1.4 trillion spending package this week as the House and Senate seek to avoid a government shutdown. The deal, which was approved in two separate “minibus” bills, passed the House yesterday with strong bipartisan support. The Senate signed off on one of the spending bills earlier today, while they are expected to approve the second one later in the afternoon or evening. Outside of appropriating money to fund the government, the two bills contained numerous substantive policy provisions that would typically be extremely difficult to pass as standalone legislation.

Some key provisions for business include:
  • Seven-year reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank
  • Repeal of the Cadillac Tax, the Medical Device Tax and the Health Insurance Tax, which are part of the Affordable Care Act
  • Inclusion of the SECURE Act, which expands retirement account access

President Trump is expected to sign the two pieces of legislation to fund the government tomorrow.
ABI's Nicole Crain Offers Snapshot of Employer Interest in Early Education in Iowa
This week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation published a guest blog post by ABI Executive Vice President Nicole Crain.

In it, she discusses ABI's approach to early childhood education: "The current unemployment rate in Iowa is 2.5%, and there are currently 40,000 people on unemployment and 60,000 job openings. As historically low unemployment continues, employers are always looking for opportunities to recruit more workers and also to retain their existing workforce. 

Since 1903, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) has served as the voice of more than 1,500 businesses and 330,000 employees in the state of Iowa. Similar to many state chambers, ABI has heard from members for the last five years that employers need more people in their workforce with the right skills. 

To solve this challenge, Iowa business leaders have increased wages, offered flexible work environments where possible, and expanded benefits. More recently, one of those benefits is childcare."  Read the full blog post .
Make It a Great Experience with a Motorcoach
Kim Grzywacz, CTIS
CIT Signature Transportation

Motorcoach travel may have existed in your past as a high school student on a band or choir trip leaving Iowa. Maybe it is your child that is raising funds to have that experience of a lifetime. But, have you ever thought about how it can ease your business life and make a great experience for your current “class” within the state? 

Here are my top 3 reasons:
  1. Network with your clients. Example: Head to a game at Principal Park. Pick up your clients, enjoy a beverage or two, enjoy the game and let your clients know you appreciate their business. 
  2. Say thank you to your employees. While the annual Christmas party may come to mind (and we can provide the designated driver and vehicle), think bigger. How about a shopping trip to the Outlets of Des Moines? Coupons for discounts, lunch together and head home with Christmas shopping checked off the list. They get to celebrate with the company while taking tasks off their home “to-do” list.
  3. Tapped out the current employee market? Need to expand into another territory? Motorcoaches can provide an employee shuttle from one community to your business location. Employees can work on the way to and from using WiFi. Need to have them watch a safety/sales video? There are DVD players on every motorcoach. Maybe it isn’t a daily shuttle, but just getting your employees in location A together with location B for a site visit. Read more.
TAI Announces 2020 Iowa Technology Roadshow
The Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) has announced its first-ever Iowa Technology (IT) Roadshow, which will travel to 10 rural communities across the state of Iowa in 2020. “The Iowa Technology Roadshow will influence and elevate Iowa’s technology industry, professionals and businesses all across Iowa. TAI believes that all companies are technology companies, and that’s why we are proud to bring Iowa technology industry experts to 10 Iowa communities,” stated Brian Waller, president of TAI. The IT Roadshow will have a spring and fall tour. Read the full news release to see the list of dates and communities.