October 1, 2020
Governor Signs Manufacturing Day Proclamation
Gov. Kim Reynolds addressed ABI members during yesterday's virtual 2020 Advanced Manufacturing Conference. Following her comments, she read and signed a proclamation declaring October 2 as Manufacturing Day in Iowa. The first Friday of October is the annual celebration of Manufacturing Day across the country. Manufacturers host events for students, educators, parents and others to demonstrate the benefits of working in the manufacturing industry. Many events will be held virtually this year. The National Association of Manufacturers, a national partner of ABI, has a MFG Day website with information about events, stories, resources and more that members can utilize. ABI would like to thank the governor for signing the proclamation and for her continued leadership and support of the business community.

Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Preserves 2017 Legislative Changes
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Joseph Cortese II reversed the initial findings of a deputy workers’ compensation commissioner in two workers’ compensation cases that sought to limit the scope of legislation championed by ABI in 2017. ABI, through member firm Heidman Law in Sioux City, filed amicus briefs in the proceedings before the Commissioner and sought the reversal.

At stake was the definition of a shoulder. The 2017 legislation, which ABI spearheaded, had specified that a shoulder injury was a scheduled injury like an arm or a leg and would be compensated as such. Before this change, shoulder injuries were considered body of the whole injuries and compensated at a higher rate. Claimants in the two cases had argued that a shoulder was only the shoulder joint and nothing that attaches to it. If such an interpretation held, most shoulder injuries would once again be considered body of the whole injuries.  

Commissioner Cortese weighed the legislative intent of the 2017 law in rendering his decision. For his legal reasoning, see his decision in Deng vs. Farmland Foods Inc. This is likely not the last of this issue. The claimants have the right to appeal the Commissioner’s decision in district court. ABI will report future events related to the case.

Early Voting Begins on Monday
Monday is the start of in-person early voting in Iowa for the Nov. 3 election. An unprecedented number of voters are expected to vote early through in-person voting or absentee ballots via mail. Secretary of State Paul Pate recently mailed an absentee ballot request to all registered active voters to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The same action took place in the June primary, where there was a record turnout. Find your polling placerequest an absentee ballot and view more voter information

State of Iowa Closes Fiscal Year 2020 with Strong Surplus
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced yesterday that Iowa will officially close FY20 with a robust surplus of $305.5 million in the General Fund. Iowa’s cash reserves also remain full with over $770 million available. The fiscal year in Iowa closed on June 30, but the accrual period officially ends on Sept. 30 each year. This great news comes as Iowa has positioned itself as the most fiscally sound and resilient state in the country when it comes to getting through COVID-19, according to a report issued by the Council of State Governments earlier this year. None of this would be possible without the responsible and prudent budgeting of the Iowa Legislature and the governor. Read the news release.

Federal Spotlight: House Democrats Could Vote on Scaled-Down Version of COVID-19 Relief Package Today
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced last night that a vote on a smaller, but still very large COVID-19 bill would be pushed back until today to give more time for negotiations between the White House and the Speaker.

The $2.2 trillion dollar package, which is a narrower version of the $3.4 trillion dollar HEROES Act that passed the House in May, contains a number of substantive provisions. Some of the highlights are the extension of numerous unemployment benefits previously approved, including the $600 weekly unemployment benefit that expired in July. It establishes a presumption that COVID-19 contraction is work-related, making those individuals eligible for workers’ compensation. It also continues and enhances mandates within the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) on employers.

The bill is not likely to be taken up in the Senate if it passes in the House as Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the White House’s liaison on the issue, continue to negotiate. The likelihood of a bill passing both chambers and being signed by President Trump before the election is very slim. Read more from USA Today.

IIPAC Filing Deadline Approaching – Donate Now
Oct.14 is the deadline for contributions to the Iowa Industrial Political Action Committee (IIPAC) to be included for the last political action committee report before the election. It is important to finish strong and provide as much help as possible to those candidates IIPAC is supporting. ABI staff will also be contacting members to remind them of their opportunity to contribute. Please take a moment today to make your IIPAC contribution.
Return to Learn: Childcare and Business Best Practices During COVID-19
Join Iowa leaders for an interactive event highlighting ways businesses are adapting to provide childcare solutions for employees during COVID-19. ABI and the Iowa Women’s Foundation will share models for childcare success with business and community partnerships. Spice and natural products wholesaler Frontier Co-op will share details about its new virtual learning. Register now.
Call for 2021 Conference Workshop Proposals
Proposals are now being accepted to present workshops at the 2021 Taking Care of Business Conference. ABI seeks speakers who can deliver dynamic, engaging sessions with a strong emphasis on takeaways.

The hour-long workshops will be held Wednesday, June 9. Attendees pre-register for workshops, and attendance typically ranges from 20-85 participants per workshop.

Submit your proposals by Dec. 1. Email questions to Emily Betz, conference programming co-chair, at ejbetz@dmacc.edu.
Last Chance to Update Your 2021 Member Directory Listing
Oct. 9 is the deadline to send updates for the 2021 edition of ABI's annual printed membership directory.

Updates may be necessary if:

  • Your staff has changed due to expansions, retirements or resignations
  • An employee's job title has changed due to a promotion
  • You want to change who is listed as your key contacts
  • The name of your organization has changed due to rebranding or an acquisition
  • Your business has changed its address, website URL or phone number

Please email updates to Dorothy Knowles.
ABI Foundation's Rebecca Coady Named Iowa ESGR State Chair
The Iowa Committee of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense program, is pleased to announce the selection of Rebecca Coady (pictured) as the organization’s state chair, effective Oct. 1. The state chair is an official Department of Defense volunteer position with a three-year term of service, renewable one time. She will provide the leadership and vision for a team of nearly 100 dedicated volunteers throughout Iowa who carry out the ESGR mission. Read the full news release.
Waiting for the COVID-19 Vaccine? Don't Waste Your Time, Create a Plan Now.
Margaret Hanson and Gene La Suer
Davis Brown Lawn Firm

Summary: There is a real possibility that the U.S. will approve a COVID-19 vaccine in the coming months; however, there is debate as to when the vaccine will become public. When that happens, employers will face the question of whether to require employees to be vaccinated and need to start planning now.

Now that there is a realistic possibility that the U.S. will approve a COVID-19 vaccine in the coming months, employers face the question of whether to require employees to be vaccinated. Many employers face a similar question each year when they contemplate requiring employees to get a flu shot. Given the speed of the COVID-19 vaccine development, employers should create a plan before a vaccine is approved.

Mandate the Vaccine?
Employers who have a history of requiring flu vaccines in the workplace have likely already established a baseline for how they will approach the COVID-19 vaccination question. Importantly, barring a state law prohibition on mandatory vaccines, employers can require vaccines but must account for employees who require reasonable medical or religious accommodations. The employer may use the same framework for flu shots to assess whether to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, some employers (notably health care facilities), may be required by state law to mandate employee vaccinations to protect the public. Many states require vaccinations for chickenpox, measles, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases. Read more.
MVS Attorneys Successful in Fighting Institution of Inter Partes Review
MVS is proud to announce that it was successful in fighting the institution of Inter Partes Review (IPR) for its client Putco, owner of Patent No. 9,995,473. IPR is a third-party challenge to a patent’s validity and is heard before the Patent Trial and Appeals Board at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. To determine whether Shenzhen Aurora Technology Co.’s petition for IPR could be heard on a substantive basis, the PTAB had to first decide whether there was merit to “institute” the petition for IPR.

Putco’s patent covers LED conversion kits that have flexible heat sinks. The flexible heat sink can be made from a braided metal fabric. Putco currently sells a version of the protected product under the name Nitro-Lux Pro Zero. To better help consumers identify Putco’s legitimate product from counterfeited ones, Putco has uniquely dyed its copper heat sinks blue. Read the full news release.