January 23, 2020
Legislature Kicks Into High Gear
The 2020 Legislative Session has concluded its second week, and the ABI public policy team attended a number of subcommittee meetings throughout the week. With over 1,500 member companies, ABI tracks a variety of legislative proposals put forward by lawmakers. While pro-business bills are moving ahead, job crushers are also appearing and some have moved forward this week. Below is a brief synopsis of some of the key bills we’ve been tracking so far this year.

  • SSB3013 – Synthetic urine prohibition. This bill bans the use of synthetic urine for the purpose of defrauding a drug or alcohol test. The legislation creates criminal penalties for those who attempt to do this. The legislation is being put forward to deter this kind of activity and to keep workplaces safe. The bill passed a senate subcommittee and moves on to the full Senate Commerce Committee. HSB539 is companion legislation that has been filed in the House Judiciary Committee. ABI Position: For.

  • SF459 – ACTION ALERT – Guns. This legislation prohibits an employer from having a policy that bans guns being in an employee’s car on the employer’s parking lot. ABI is opposed to this legislation as it infringes upon employers’ private property rights and imposes a mandate on business. The legislation cleared a subcommittee Thursday morning and could be taken up in the Senate Judiciary Committee as early as next week. ABI strongly encourages you to contact your senator to oppose this legislation. ABI Position: Against.

  • HSB501 – Prescription insulin drug coverage. The House Human Resources Committee has advanced a bill capping employee co-pays for insulin at $100 per month. An amendment was offered and accepted in committee that would ensure that low-cost options are available in employer plans. The bill should not have an impact on employers providing healthcare coverage to their employees. ABI Position: Undecided.

  • SF476 – Adoption leave. The legislation requires an employer to treat an employee who chooses to adopt the same as an employee who is the biological parent of a newborn child in regard to employment policies, benefits and protections for the first year of the adoption. Though ABI is undecided, several questions were posed by ABI staff during the subcommittee. The bill will now move to the full Labor and Business Relations Committee. ABI Position: Undecided.

Caucus Toolkit: Be Ready to Caucus on Feb. 3
The Iowa caucuses are 11 days away. Iowa Republicans and Democrats have the opportunity to select their choices for president, elect delegates and establish party platforms on Monday, Feb. 3. Although not a formal election, the caucuses are critical to Iowa and a strong turnout reflects positively on the state. Four years ago both Republicans and Democrats had a competitive field; this year it is the Democrats that have multiple candidates vying to be the party’s nominee for president. If you haven’t participated in a caucus before, we want to make sure you have the tools needed to do so. ABI, in partnership with BIPAC, encourages you to take a look at our caucus toolkit and view the videos for the party caucus you plan to attend. You can also find the top three things employers can do to encourage others to caucus !

Air Quality Fee Review Meetings Next Week
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources invites stakeholders and the public to review and comment on the draft Air Quality Budget for the coming fiscal year. Meetings will take place next Tuesday, Jan. 28 at the Wallace Building in Des Moines. The Major Source Construction Permit Fee and Title V Fees Advisory Groups will meet at 10 a.m. The Minor Source Construction Permit Fee Advisory Group will meet at 1 p.m. and the Asbestos Notification Fee Advisory Group will meet at 3 p.m. Those who wish to attend are asked to check in at the air quality bureau information desk on the 2nd floor. The meetings will then be held on the 2nd floor north conference room. Handouts for the meetings can be found  here . Contact  Wendy Walker  if you have any questions.

State of Manufacturing Address Live from Iowa
Jay Timmons, president & CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, gave the state of manufacturing address at ABI member company Vermeer Corporation yesterday. The address, given on the association’s 125th anniversary, focused on the strength of the manufacturing industry and the millions of Americans who work in manufacturing. Vermeer Corporation's President and CEO Jason Andringa kicked off the event and shared the story of the founding of Vermeer to a nationwide audience. ABI appreciated the opportunity to be at the event and congratulate Vermeer and NAM on a successful history and strong future!  

Federal Spotlight: Trump Administration Proposes Streamlining Environmental Rules
President Trump’s Council on Environmental Quality is looking to put forward rules that would update the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the first time in 40 years. The rules seek to cut down on NEPA’s bureaucratic obligations and expedite the permitting process for projects like roads, bridges and other infrastructure. The move is being hailed by business and energy groups as well as construction unions. Environmentalists argue this could hinder the battle against climate change. Read more from The Wall Street Journal .
First Legislative Update Call Next Friday
JD Davis and Brad Hartkopf will lead ABI’s first legislative teleconference next Friday, Jan. 31 at 8 a.m. They’ll break down key bills that have been filed that affect the business community. Members will then be able to ask questions. This is a great opportunity for you to hear the latest about ABI’s policy efforts and to be in touch with what’s going on at the Capitol. These calls are for ABI members only. You can register by emailing Michelle Vollstedt .
The Importance of On-Site Store Search
Stephen G. Fry

Research shows that half or more of online shoppers bypass store navigation in lieu of the search box. We can all thank Google for teaching us that trick. It’s still important to develop a relevant navigational structure to make it easy for buyers to find what they’re looking for, but it’s equally important to set up and track a great search experience.

We’ve all been to websites that just seem to understand what we want. Amazon certainly is a great example of such a store. One of the key factors in creating a shopping experience that is in tune with your buyers is to get the search functionality set up correctly. First, you need to offer the ability for people to enter keywords and phrases to find what they’re seeking. Depending on your product range, you may need to offer additional filters to make the search process easier to manage.

If you have a limited number of products or your products are easy to categorize, you may be able to use a basic search. This simply means that you’ll have a database of products, part numbers and descriptions that can be easily accessed based on what is entered in the search box. For those of you that have many products or complex products, you’ll want to look at more advanced search tools.

To illustrate what we mean by complex products, let’s look at a company that sells automotive replacement parts for multiple brands. Read more .
Land Auction Results Indicate a Stable Iowa Land Market
According to statewide auction results tracked by Iowa Appraisal and Research Corporation (Iowa Appraisal), indicators point to a stable Iowa land market in equilibrium. Iowa Appraisal’s farm appraisal expert, Jim Rothermich, MAI, ARA, (pictured) shares realtors he’s interviewed report a better than expected crop yield in 2019 was the primary reason for current stability. Market Facilitation Payments (MFP) and crop insurance helped. Also noted was a strong demand to purchase land by both farmers and investor buyers, historically low interest rates, stable cash rental rates, low supply for sale, and more optimism about trade in the later part of the year. Read the full news release .
Start Your 2020 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey
You’re invited to sign up to participate in Gallagher’s 2020 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey. Complete the survey to receive the 2020 U.S. National Report, the most comprehensive analysis of benefits nationwide. The report data and Gallagher’s unique insights will help you create better benefits strategies and improved organizational outcomes, so you can face your future with confidence as you build a better workplace.

By completing this survey, you will receive:
  • Gallagher’s full suite of reports, including the U.S. National Report (valued at $650), the Executive Summary and Best-in-Class Benchmarking Analysis
  • A chance to qualify and be recognized as a best-in-class employer 
  • The opportunity to see where you stand against your competitors 
Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust Announces Board of Director Appointments
Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust (CRBT) is pleased to announce the appointments of Mike Mallaro (top picture) and James Klein (bottom picture) to the company’s board of directors, effective Jan. 9, 2020. Mallaro serves as chief executive officer of VGM Group, Inc. in Waterloo, Iowa. Klein serves as president of CRBT in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. CRBT offers five locations across the greater Cedar Rapids area and three locations in the Cedar Valley area. It was established as a de novo bank in 2001 and provides full-relationship commercial and consumer banking and trust and asset management services.