January 21, 2021
Iowa Legislature Moving Full Speed Ahead as Second Week Concludes
Lawmakers wasted no time filing legislation as hundreds of bills have already been introduced for the first session of the 89th General Assembly. ABI’s public policy team has been sifting through bills and registering on a number of pieces of legislation. Both pro-growth bills and anti-jobs bills have been filed. Policy staff attended a number of subcommittees this week. Below is a recap of some of the most important issues:

  • HSB22 – Synthetic Urine Prohibitions – A subcommittee recommended passage of HSB22, which creates criminal penalties for those who use synthetic urine or a urine additive to defraud a drug or alcohol test. The purpose of the legislation is to deter individuals from committing such acts and to help keep workplaces safe. This bill passed the House with bipartisan support last year and was poised to pass the Senate, but time simply ran out after the Legislature returned in June to finish a shortened session due to COVID-19. ABI position: For.

  • SSB1029 – Pregnancy Accommodations – The legislation creates a state mandate that employers provide reasonable accommodations to employees based on medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. ABI opposes the bill as those accommodations are already required under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act for employers with more than 15 employees. The state mandate would allow disputes to be tried in state court as well as federal courts. Additionally, the mandate would apply to employers with fewer than 15 employees. Subcommittee members took the testimony of ABI and other interested parties but did not advance the bill to the full Senate Labor Committee. ABI position: Against.

  • SSB1030 – Adoption Mandate – The bill requires that an employer treat an employee who adopts the same as a biological parent of a newborn child for the purposes of employment policies, benefits and protections in the first year. ABI raised several questions during the subcommittee and recommended policymakers look at alternative means of promoting adoption, such as enhancing the adoption tax credit, which is a far more equitable proposal than implementing a new mandate on employers. Lawmakers passed the bill out of subcommittee. ABI position: Undecided.

  • HF89 – Mental Health Telehealth Reimbursement – The bill mandates health care insurers to reimburse telehealth mental health consultations at the same rate as in-office visits. Parity for both mental and physical health telehealth delivery is expected to be considered this year. ABI policy staff has been engaged with members that are both health care plan insurers and health care delivery networks. It is hoped that a non-legislative solution equitable to all parties can eliminate the need for legislation. This issue will continue to develop throughout the 2021 session. ABI position: Undecided.

First Legislative Update Next Week
ABI’s public policy team will hold its first Legislative Update next Friday, Jan. 29, at 8 a.m. JD Davis and Brad Hartkopf will walk through a number of key issues that ABI is currently working on and tracking. Members will have the opportunity to ask questions. This members-only update is a great opportunity to learn more about how policymakers could affect your business as they work to enact legislation. If you haven’t registered already, please contact Michelle Vollstedt.

Opportunity to Serve on State Boards/Commissions
Each year, the governor seeks to fill several positions on state boards and commissions. Iowa law requires appointees to have geographic, gender, political affiliation, and in some cases, specific experience. There are currently positions available for manufacturers on the Boiler Board with the Department of Labor as well as several other state boards. If you are interested in learning more about serving on a board or commission, click here to see the current openings, or contact JD Davis or Brad Hartkopf.

Opportunity to Apply for Employer Innovation Fund and Child Care Challenge Fund Grants
Last week, Gov. Reynolds announced employers, employer consortiums and others can now apply for two Future Ready Iowa grants. The Employer Innovation Fund is a matching grant program where funds can be used to support credit and non-credit programs, as well as wrap-around support programs such as childcare, transportation, books, equipment and other ways to help upskill Iowans. The Child Care Challenge Fund is another matching grant program where dollars can be used for new construction of a child care facility, rehabilitation of an existing structure as a child care facility or retrofitting an existing structure for child care. ABI is very supportive of both programs and encourages members to consider applying for funds. You can learn more about the Employer Innovation Fund and the Child Care Challenge Fund, and view the governor’s press release.

DOR Releases Computer, Computer Peripherals Tax Guidance
On Monday, the Iowa Department of Revenue (DOR) unveiled guidance related to sales tax treatment of computers and computer peripherals. The guidance comes as the Legislature defined the term “computer peripheral” in 2020 and added that term to the existing sales tax exemption for computers used in processing or storage of data or information by an insurance company, financial institution or commercial enterprise. The guidance has been issued to ensure taxpayers know which devices are taxable or exempt as a computer or computer peripherals. ABI Senior Vice President Nicole Crain served on a task force two years ago that provided recommendations to the Legislature as they sought to define the term.

Governor Selects Adam Steen to Lead DAS
Last week, Gov. Reynolds announced she has chosen Adam Steen to head the Department of Administrative Services (DAS). Steen, who previously served as director of business development at ABI member Syverson Strege, will be replacing former Director Jim Kurtenbach, who stepped down from the post earlier this year. Steen’s appointment became effective on Jan. 11. The position is subject to Senate confirmation, which requires a two-thirds vote. Steen, originally from Indianola, also previously served as an ABI board member. You can read more in the governor’s press release.  

Federal Spotlight: New Opportunity to Apply for Paycheck Protection Program 
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has reopened and is now available for applicants to apply for forgivable loans. PPP, which was originally created under the CARES Act last March, was replenished with funds of $284 billion as a part of the latest COVID-19 package, which was signed into law late last year. One of the key changes the new law makes is allowing businesses to apply for a second loan if they can show losses of 25% or higher in 2020 over their 2019 revenue. It also makes it easier for minority- and women-owned businesses to receive loans. The $900 billion law appropriates $20 billion for grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program under the Small Business Administration (SBA) as well. You can visit the SBA website for more information on applying for a loan.
Erin Cole Joins ABI Board of Directors
Erin Cole (pictured), president/CEO of the Clinton Regional Development Corporation, has been elected to the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) Board of Directors.

“Erin is a well-known Eastern Iowa business leader, and ABI is excited to welcome her to the board,” said ABI President Mike Ralston.

Cole brings with her key expertise in economic development, international development, international trade, exporting and public-private alliances.

The ABI Board of Directors is comprised of 62 business leaders from across the state who represent privately and publicly held companies of all sizes and industries.

She was elected during the January board meeting and will attend her first board meeting in March.
Join the Leadership Iowa Alumni Society for a Laugh
As we kick 2020 to the curb and optimistically march forward into 2021, let's welcome the new year with a bit of laughter! Join Leadership Iowa for a virtual evening of comedy and connections (and a few prize giveaways) on Thursday, Jan. 28 from 5:15-6:45 p.m. Register now.

Once registered, you'll receive Zoom login information for this event and further details through email. This event is FREE to attend, but attendees must be current Leadership Iowa Alumni Society members for 2020-21. To join the Alumni Society, submit your tax-deductible membership dues for the year.

This event is sponsored by Riley Resource Group, courtesy of Bob Riley (LI ’02-03). Special thank you also to Teehee's Comedy Club and owner Sid Juwarker (LI '07-08).
Free Resources for You and Your HR Team
Buy ABI program partner Salary.com has provided ABI members with two free resources—both summaries of recent surveys—which may be helpful as your HR team navigates 2021:

  1. COVID-19 Impact Survey, which studied COVID-19’s impact on pay practices and compensation.
  2. HR Metrics Survey, which measured the effectiveness and efficiency of HR policies in 2020.

Salary.com is a leading consumer and enterprise resource for compensation data, software, consulting and education. Learn more about deep discounts on business products and services from Salary.com and other Buy ABI partners here.
Make Introductions and “Sell” to Your Newly Elected Officials
Kim Grzywacz, CTIS
CIT Signature Transportation

We just finished an election. New officials have been elected into office. Some of those relationships you spent months/years developing have now ended. It is a cycle of life for those in office. Now, we need to reach out to our newly elected officials and start over. This is a GREAT opportunity to be the first in a long line of entities that will be asking for their attention as the new sessions begin. 

If you have not already, it is not too late to complete the following task. Thank those that recently left office after serving your state and your industry. Express your gratitude as they now face a new path for their careers. Leave this relationship on a positive note. Past relationships have a way of coming back in new ways. Keep them strong. 

Next, reach out to the newly elected. Find them on social media platforms, follow them and congratulate them on their new position. Social media is a great first introduction—and the easiest to find. Their new staff should be in place, but finding access to these key personnel who will serve as your communication conduit may take some research. Do not let the time it takes to do this research stop you from making connections today.

While their individual websites and access to an email portal are now available, I reached out to a newly elected official through their still-active campaign email at the end of 2020. We met his Iowa staffer through that email. Once the connection was established, I followed up with the guidelines set in my previous blog (see the end of the article for links). Follow these steps...Keep reading.
Fredrikson & Byron Moves to New Office in Des Moines
Fredrikson & Byron has announced it has moved into a new office space in the One Eleven East Grand building located at 111 E Grand Avenue in Des Moines, where it occupies the third floor. “Our move is an essential next step for our growth strategy,” said Fredrikson shareholder, Bridget Penick. “Our clients need greater innovation than ever before, and a modernized workspace allows us to better serve them while offering our team a safe space to collaborate during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Read the full news release.
Principal Report: Road to Recovery is Uncertain for America’s Small and Medium-sized Businesses
The prolonged economic impacts of COVID-19 are wearing on small and medium-sized businesses as owners report more uncertainty about when and how they may recover, according to a new report from Principal Financial Group. The Principal Financial Well-Being Index highlights difficulties particularly for those businesses in rural communities. Read the full news release.
Storey Kenworthy Launches Rebrand
Storey Kenworthy, the Des Moines-based office products and furniture supplier, has launched a rebrand with an updated website, branding, logo and video content. John Kenworthy, the president since 2011, is following in his grandfather's footsteps in tackling a transformational project in uncertain times, just as Arthur Kenworthy started Storey Kenworthy right out of the Great Depression in 1936. Read the full news release.
Land Auction Results Indicate Rising Iowa Land Market
According to statewide auction results tracked by Iowa Appraisal and Research Corporation (Iowa Appraisal), indicators point to a rising Iowa land market. Iowa Appraisal’s farm appraisal expert Jim Rothermich (pictured), MAI, ARA shares realtors report the increase in land prices occurred in the last 10 weeks of the year. Primary reasons given for the surge include: crop yields not what hoped for but better than expected, corn and soybean prices rallied midway through harvest, historical large government payments, historical low interest rates, a larger pool of buyers looking for a stable investment and fewer acres coming to the market. Read the full news release.
EMC Announces Promotion of Jessica Hendricks to Vice President – Agency Development 
EMC Insurance Companies has promoted Jessica Hendricks (pictured) to vice president – agency development from her prior position of assistant vice president – agency development. Hendricks has been with EMC for 13 years, serving in various roles within the underwriting, marketing and agency development departments. In her new role, Hendricks will lead the company’s efforts on agency compensation, commissions and incentives; agency licensing and contracting; and agency analytics. She will also provide agency development and sales support to EMC's 16 branch offices across the nation. Read the full news release.