August 13, 2020
ABI Economic Growth and Tax Committees to Meet Next Week
ABI will hold the final two public policy committee meetings, Economic Growth and Tax, next week as the committees develop their policy recommendations for 2021. We expect tremendous turnout for both committee meetings. The Economic Growth Committee will convene on Tuesday, August 18 at 11:30 a.m., while the Tax Committee will meet on Thursday, August 20 at 11:30 a.m. Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority Director Debi Durham will address the Economic Growth Committee. Iowa Department of Revenue Director Kraig Paulsen will speak before the Tax Committee. There is still time to register for these virtual meetings.

Gulliford Addresses ABI’s Environment Committee
The Environment Committee convened today to devise 2021 policy recommendations. ABI members also had the opportunity to hear from EPA Region VII Administrator Jim Gulliford. Gulliford discussed a number of priorities that Region VII has been working on including land revitalization, working with the agriculture community and the prevention of lead exposure among children. ABI staff appreciates Mr. Gulliford taking time out of his schedule to address ABI members, and for the work and partnership that he facilitates between Region VII and the business community.

Federal Spotlight: Biden Selects Harris for Democratic VP Nod
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced this week that he has chosen California Senator Kamala Harris to be his Vice Presidential nominee for the 2020 Democratic ticket. Harris, who is a first-term senator, previously ran for the 2020 Democratic nomination, but withdrew from the race in December. She is also the first woman of color to appear on a major party ticket in presidential history. Prior to serving in the Senate, she was California’s Attorney General. She held the post of San Francisco’s District Attorney for several years before that. You can read more from Politico. With 82 days to go until November’s election, the race is certainly heating up. The Democratic National Convention will take place virtually throughout next week.

Initial Unemployment, Continuing Claims Down Again
Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) announced there were 5,282 initial unemployment claims filed by individuals for the week of August 2-8. There was approximately $27 million paid out of the state unemployment trust fund, which is about $3 million less than the week prior and does not include federal benefits paid. The number of continuing unemployment claims was 92,853, which is about 11,000 claims fewer than last week. The top sectors that saw the most initial claims filed included manufacturing (1,132); those not identified by industry including the self-employed, independent contractors, etc. (539); and health care and social assistance (514). Read IWD’s news release.

Governor Pens Open Letter to Iowans Regarding COVID-19 and Asks for Vigilance
On Friday, Gov. Kim Reynolds released the following open letter to the state of Iowa: "Tomorrow marks five months since we learned of the first positive cases of COVID-19 in Iowa. Since then, our lives have been disrupted in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Schools and businesses closed. A record number of Iowans were suddenly out of work. And our normal daily routines were turned upside down as we prioritized doing things differently to mitigate the spread of the virus..." Read the full letter.
Registration Open: USMCA Panel Discussion
On July 1, 2020, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) officially replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the basis for North American trade relationships. The USMCA contains modernized provisions to address intellectual property, digital trade, agricultural markets and balanced manufacturing policy.

On Sept. 1, ABI invites you to join a digital panel discussion on the USMCA, featuring officials from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Panelists will discuss the importance to Iowa of the North American trade relationships, as well as enhancements in the USMCA that can benefit Iowa businesses and agriculture producers. Register now.
Business Record to Host "Iowa Manufacturing Forecast" Panel; ABI is Presenting Sponsor
The Business Record will host a free online event, "Made in Iowa: Iowa Manufacturing Forecast," on Aug. 27 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. ABI is the presenting sponsor. Register now.

Panelists for the deep dive into the future of the Iowa manufacturing industry includes these ABI members:
  • Kanlaya Barr – senior economist, Deere & Co.
  • Eric Lohmeier – president, NCP Inc.
  • Kellan Longenecker – general manager, General Mills, Carlisle plant
  • Kirk Tyler chairman and CEO, Atlantic Bottling Co.
The State of ABI is Sound
Mike Ralston

Every year about this time, I complete a round of visits with newly elected members of the ABI Board of Directors. Our new board members, like our returning board members, are terrific women and men. They’re passionate about their business, their employees and serving their customers. For members of the ABI staff, speaking with directors and ABI members is one of the best parts of our job.

Also every year about this time, I remind you that same benefit is available to you. You, too, have the opportunity to meet terrific Iowa business leaders, and you can take advantage of it by getting involved in ABI. Attend events, participate in meetings and share your stories in newsletters and other publications. It’s a great way to help grow your business and grow our state. While I could expand on that, I know you get my point. Be involved.

Let me also share something else, and that’s the state of the business here at ABI. Thanks to you and the board, the state of ABI is sound. 

Thanks to the board’s leadership and the example set by member companies, ABI is run in such a way that downturns are foreseen and managed. When they inevitably strike (though a downturn due to a global pandemic was a bit of a surprise), ABI can continue to serve members and provide value. That’s our focus now—and always.

The association is in the second month of its fiscal year, and we’re operating on a budget of roughly $2.1 million. That is down a bit from last year, as we account for the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However:

  1. Our cash position is very strong.
  2. Once we fill the vacant membership position later in the year, we’ll be fully staffed.
  3. We continue to provide a complete slate of services, seminars and events.
  4. Through the ABI Foundation, educational and leadership development programming continues to be first class.

That means, as an association member, you’ll see no decrease in value from ABI. Sometimes phrases such as “now more than ever” can seem overblown. That’s most certainly not the case at this time. In fact, now more than ever, your support is the reason for ABI’s success. THANK YOU.
Summary of Payroll Tax Deferral Memorandum
ABI Advisory Council member and PEO provider Focus OneSource has provided the following summary for fellow members: On Saturday, President Trump issued an executive memorandum regarding a payroll tax delay. The memorandum directs the Secretary of the Treasury to implement a delay of certain employees' obligations to pay Social Security taxes. The payroll tax provision requires guidance to be issued by the Department of Treasury. Until that guidance is issued, many of the details are unknown. 
Below is a summary of the key provisions of the memorandum:
  • The memorandum applies to the period September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.
  • It is unclear whether employers are required to take advantage of the delay.
  • The memorandum does not address what employers should do if they decide to continue withholding payroll taxes.
  • The memorandum only applies to the 6.2% Social Security tax on employees.
  • The memorandum only applies to employees generally earning less than $104,000 annually.
  • The memorandum only provides a delay of the tax obligation, not forgiveness.
  • No penalties or interest shall apply to those who use the delay.
  • There is no relief with respect to employers' withholding obligation.

It is important to keep in mind that Congress and the Trump administration are still negotiating on a potential COVID-19 relief measure, and that a compromise bill could supersede the President's actions. As this situation becomes clearer, we will have updates on what to expect and what actions to take.