March 11, 2021
Governor Signs Synthetic Urine Prohibition Legislation Into Law
On Monday, Gov. Reynolds signed into law bipartisan legislation that will enhance the safety of workplaces across the state. HF 283 is a bill that creates criminal penalties for those who use synthetic urine to defraud a drug or alcohol test. Those penalties also apply to someone who uses somebody else’s urine and/or expels their own urine beforehand for the purposes of defrauding a drug or alcohol test.

A person could be charged with a simple misdemeanor for a first offense and a serious misdemeanor for subsequent offenses. The legislation also allows a court to prescribe a substance abuse evaluation and treatment in lieu of or in addition to the misdemeanor charge.

ABI’s public policy team spearheaded this issue following feedback from members that the use of synthetic urine was becoming problematic in the effort to keep workplaces safe. ABI would like to thank Gov. Reynolds for putting her signature on the legislation and Rep. Brian Lohse and Sen. Waylon Brown for floor managing the bill.

Join Us for Tomorrow’s Legislative Update
Be sure to take part in ABI’s Legislative Update tomorrow at 8 a.m. ABI’s public policy team will break down the latest from the Capitol and members will have the opportunity to ask questions. If you haven’t registered for a previous update and would like to participate, please email Michelle Vollstedt.

Senate Ways & Means Moves Bill to Remove Tax Triggers
On Wednesday, the Senate Ways & Means Committee passed SSB 1250, which is legislation that eliminates the tax triggers from the 2018 tax reform law and also phases out the inheritance tax.

The tax bill in 2018 required that future tax cuts are contingent upon hitting two triggers. Those triggers are the requirements that net general fund revenues for the end of FY22 equal or exceed $8.3146 billion, and also equal or exceed 104% of the net general fund revenues for the end of FY21.

Elimination of the triggers will give businesses certainty and predictability when it comes to tax planning and will allow them to make greater investments in their companies.

The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) is set to meet in the next few weeks. Its budget estimate for FY22 will likely have a profound impact on whether or not the legislature ultimately decides to eliminate the triggers from law.

Recently Signed Election Bill Includes Time Off for Voting
Current Iowa law allows employees time off for voting in certain circumstances. The current law reflects poll opening and closing times at 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. respectively and requires employees to have a three-hour window. 

SF 413 made many changes to elections and absentee voting. During the legislative process, an amendment was offered and accepted that changed the poll closing time to 8 p.m. As part of that change, the hours required for time off went from three hours to two hours.

ABI has no position on the overall bill but wanted to make you aware of this change.

Federal Spotlight: House Passes Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act – Bill Will Impact Iowa's Right to Work Status
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act this week by a 225 to 206 vote. This was mainly a vote along party lines, with 220 Democrats and only five Republicans supporting the bill. The significant anti-jobs bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, where it has 44 cosponsors.

The PRO Act threatens both Iowa businesses and employees. It will end Iowa’s Right to Work law, which was enacted in 1947 and has been a part of the state for more than 70 years. This Right to Work law protects an Iowan’s choice – no employee is forced to pay union dues or fees to keep their job. Losing Iowa’s Right to Work status will gut an employee’s power to decide what is best for them. Read more.

Governor Announces Child Care Task Force, ABI Member to Chair
Gov. Reynolds on Wednesday announced a Child Care Task Force as a result of the Economic Recovery Board’s recommendations. The task force, to be chaired by Emily Schmitt, general counsel and chief administrative officer of ABI member company Sukup Mfg. Co, will have 100 days to review and make recommendations about ways to increase child care availability in Iowa. In addition to Schmitt, ABI members from Fairfield Economic Development Group, Iowa City Area Business Partnership, Wells Fargo and Lincoln Savings Bank are serving on the task force. They will have four workgroups that will look at different aspects of Iowa’s child care challenges. ABI will stay engaged on this issue and update members as more information becomes available.
Iowa Manufacturers Anticipate Strong Sales in Second Quarter
There’s more good news for Iowa’s economy.
Iowa manufacturers anticipate strong sales in the second quarter, according to results of the latest ABI Quarterly Iowa Business Survey.
“This is fabulous news for Iowans,” said ABI President Mike Ralston, “especially when you consider the pandemic and where we were a year ago.”
65% of survey respondents expect sales to expand over the next quarter. That’s compared to 55% in Q1 2021 and 47% one year ago.
Ralston attributes the extra growth to pent up demand and low inventories.
“Many people saved more money during the pandemic,” said Ralston. “Now they’re ready to spend that money.”
ABI surveyed its board members in early March 2021. The survey also found:
  • 45% expect the number of employees in their business to grow in Q2. That’s compared to 52% in Q1 2021 and 19% one year ago.
  • 65% plan to make capital expenditures. That’s compared to 68% in Q1 2021 and 56% one year ago.
Approximately half of ABI’s 1,500 member companies are manufacturers. The association represents nearly every industry in Iowa.
Workers’ Compensation Medical Bill Review: Neglected Truths
Lisa Gran

Did you know that (according to NCCI) medical expenses account for about 60% of average claims' costs? These costs clearly represent the greatest impact on an employer’s workers’ compensation total cost of risk and this average is expected to keep climbing. So naturally, maximizing savings opportunities through the medical bill review (MBR) process is a critical component of all comprehensive claims management programs.

An employer, insurance company or TPA that historically “outsources” managed care services and engages in an RFP will always seek MBR service vendors that have the largest medical savings opportunities for the lowest bill review fees. If your RFP process is comprised of comparing one MBR vendor’s results with another via a spreadsheet, your results will be profoundly inaccurate. There are neglected truths that you may never hear discussed surrounding the very complicated process of selecting an MBR vendor – every risk manager and CFO should be aware of these truths.

The typical RFP process focuses on a Quantitative approach comparing vendors’ average MBR savings by state combined with a “sample” number of medical bills and these metrics alone are meaningless. Risk managers and CFOs must move away from a Quantitative to a Qualitative analysis selection process.

Focusing on the Qualitative component of the bill review process trumps all other considerations. While a focus on the potential vendors’ keen abilities to facilitate the largest savings possible on key specialty, facility and out-of-network bills makes the selection process more difficult, it is critical to ensure your ability to maximize your medical bill savings. Keep reading.
Prairie Welcomes John Waller
Prairie Capital Advisors, Inc., a leading corporate advisory and investment banking firm, is pleased to announce the addition of John Waller as a managing director in the firm’s investment banking group. With nearly 25 years of investment banking experience, Waller provides mergers and acquisitions (M&A) services to private companies, large corporations and private equity firms. Read the full news release.