July 23, 2020
ABI Releases 88th General Assembly Voting Records
ABI is pleased to unveil our legislative voting records for the 88th General Assembly. Votes on a number of key issues from 2019 and 2020 were scored to determine how legislators fared. In the Senate, there were two senators who had 100% pro-jobs voting records. Twenty-eight senators scored at least 90% or better with ABI. On the House side, 43 representatives obtained a 100% pro-jobs voting record, while 53 representatives supported ABI’s position on the selected bills at least 90% of the time. Some of the bills that were evaluated include: Empower Rural Iowa, Business Liability Protection and workers’ compensation idiopathic falls. It’s important to consider how your legislator voted on business issues when determining who you are going to vote for in the fall. ABI appreciates all of the legislators who supported pro-business, pro-jobs legislation this general assembly. For complete historical information on how your legislator voted, click on their name. Legislative vote records is just one resource IAVotes.com provides to Iowans.

Federal Spotlight: Liability Protections for Businesses a Key Point of Negotiations for Next COVID-19 Relief Bill
Congressional leaders are working diligently to craft and pass another COVID-19 relief package before the August recess. As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the U.S., leaders in both parties are working to boost the economy via another stimulus that is likely to be over $1 trillion. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has emphasized that liability protections for businesses, hospitals and schools must be included in the final bill. Some of the biggest issues that are expected to be thoroughly debated between the House, the Senate and the White House include more money for the Paycheck Protection Program, more direct payments to individuals, money for educational institutions and childcare, funding for businesses to buy PPE, unemployment benefits, and aid to state and local governments. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced this morning that a payroll tax cut, which the White House had been intensely lobbying Senate GOP leaders on, is not going to be included in the bill. Read more on this from  The New York Times

Absentee Ballot Requests Mailed to Voters for General Election
Iowa Secretary of State (SOS) Paul Pate will send absentee ballot requests to all active registered voters this fall for the general election after being granted this authority by the Legislative Council last Friday. Secretary Pate performed the same action for Iowa’s June primary election, which saw record turnout. Following the primary, the Legislature passed and Gov. Reynolds signed into law legislation that required the SOS to receive permission from the Legislative Council, which is composed of leaders of both parties in both chambers, before doing so for the 2020 general election and moving forward. Pate’s office issued a  news release  indicating he wants to provide voters a safe alternative to voting in person at the polls as we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continuing Unemployment Claims See Significant Drop From Last Week
Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) announced there were 9,505 initial unemployment claims filed by individuals for the week of July 12-18. That number is down by approximately 500 from last week. There was approximately $31.7 million paid out of the state unemployment trust fund, which is about $1.6 million less than the week prior and does not include federal benefits paid. The number of continuing unemployment claims was 116,810, which is about 18,000 claims fewer than last week. The top sectors that saw the most initial claims filed included manufacturing (2,085); those not identified by industry including the self-employed, independent contractors, etc. (1,703); and health care and social assistance (864). Read IWD's  news release .

EPIC Interviews to Take Place Next Week
Economic Progress for Iowa’s Citizens (EPIC) interviews will be held at ABI next Tuesday and Wednesday. EPIC, an organization separate from ABI, is composed of businesses and trade associations. Members of EPIC interview open seat candidates running for the Legislature to learn more about them and their positions on a myriad of issues. Several EPIC members are ABI members, and ABI provides management services and coordination of the interviews for the organization. 

Unemployment Rate Drops to 8% for Month of June
Last week, Iowa Workforce Development announced that Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate had dropped to 8% for June, which is a full two-point drop from May when we were at 10%. Iowa’s jobless rate one year ago was 2.7%. Though 8% is historically high, it is welcome news and demonstrates that Iowans are getting back to work following forced closures due to COVID-19. The number of unemployed Iowans declined from 173,000 in May to 131,200 in June. Read IWD's  news release  for more details.
Weeklong 2020 ABI Foundation Auction Happening Now
While we missed having the conference this year, there’s still the opportunity to bid for Iowa’s best with the 2020 ABI Foundation Auction. The tradition continues of ABI members contributing packages and bidding in support of the statewide educational leadership programs  Leadership Iowa Leadership Iowa University  and  Business Horizons . The only way to “lose” is to not participate!

  • FLY WITH A LEADER – Taking the tradition of lunch with the ABI Chair to new heights, Steven Bradford (HNI Corporation) will treat you then take a flight with you over Muscatine. Much more than conversation, talk about making a meaningful connection!

  • WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL – A custom, rustic hand-carved wooden American flag is one that will never stop waving. Patriotic Carter Pellet is the 16-year-old owner of Timber Ridge Design Shop, and son to ABI board member and Leadership Iowa alumni Stacey Pellett (John Deere, LI ’16-17).

  • EVERLASTING FOOTPRINT – Your brand will "make an entrance" for every customer. That’s what the donors are known for, too! This package is courtesy of Nate Weaton and past ABI Chair Lori Schaefer-Weaton (Agri-Industrial Plastics Company). You can custom design a floor medallion with your logo to have your company as the centerpiece of your operation!

These are just a few of the over 40 packages up for auction! Not only can you bid and “win,” but join us to CELEBRATE! We’re wrapping up the weeklong online auction with the live virtual finale tomorrow, Friday, July 24 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. through Zoom.
Application Due Friday for Opportunities Awareness Program, Leadership Iowa University
Help connect college seniors, recent college graduates and interns in Iowa with tools for personal and professional success. Complete a quick nomination form, and we will reach out immediately about this can't-miss opportunity, now virtual for four half-days, Aug. 10-13. Applications are due this Friday, July 24 at  www.LeadershipIowaUniversity.com Nominate >

Those interested may apply as individuals or representatives of their organizations; companies may encourage and support their intern(s) through the program. The participant cost of the program is $75. Capacity is limited to 20-30 participants to ensure a meaningful experience. Applicants will be notified of their status and accepted on a rolling admission basis. With questions, contact  foundation@iowaabi.org  or 515.280.8000.
Ernst Bill Would Provide Needed Help on Child Care; Now Congress Needs to Act
Nicole Crain
Executive Vice President

Each week we see new, continued unemployment claims in the news around the country. In Iowa, our  unemployment rate is currently at 8% . However, what we don’t know is the story behind the numbers.

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry represents employers in a wide variety of industries. Some industries have been hit harder by COVID-19 than others. What most members tell us time and again is that employee absenteeism and unemployment claims continue, even though work is available and workers are needed.

One common theme we hear from employers, regardless of the industry, is the need for child care. As Iowa schools contemplate how best to get back to school and businesses begin phased opening approaches, this issue will only get louder. Now is the time to act to ensure there are options available for working parents. Keep reading .
Sukup Manufacturing Co. Implements New Visual Indicator
Last week Sukup Manufacturing Co. implemented a new visual indicator colored bracelets that employees may voluntarily wear to share their comfort level during the pandemic.

These colors signal to coworkers:

  • Green: Comfortable with standard social distancing
  • Yellow: I prefer to be more cautious
  • Red: Please use the highest level of caution around me

General counsel Emily Schmitt heard about people using similar bracelets at a wedding, and thought it would translate well to the manufacturing facility. The bracelets are imprinted with "Team Sukup."
IEDA Announces COVID-19 Small Business Utility Disruption Prevention Program
The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) announced on Friday the launch of the new Small Business Utility Disruption Prevention Program. The program will provide short-term relief to eligible small businesses and nonprofits that faced significant hardship in the payment of utility bills for service provided during the months of disruption to their business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers grants up to $7,500 to be applied to utility bill debt for eligible small businesses. Read the full news release .

hrsimple to Host "Hot Topics in Immigration Law" Webinar
Join hrsimple on July 30 at noon for a webinar on "Hot Topics in Immigration Law." Registration is free for ABI members. David Jones, Fisher Phillips immigration partner, will present key immigration issues employers need to keep in mind this year including:

  • What will happen to my foreign national's immigration status if they're stuck outside the U.S.
  • How to complete the Form I-9 if employees are working remotely
  • Alternative options for employers looking to acquire and retain foreign nationals

Alliant Energy Issues Corporate Responsibility Report
Alliant Energy announced new sustainability goals on Wednesday, including net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and elimination of coal generation by 2040. Those goals are part of Alliant Energy's accelerated Clean Energy Vision, which is included in its just released  2020 Corporate Responsibility Report . In addition to setting new, accelerated goals, Alliant Energy also announced it has achieved a previous target–to have 30% of its energy mix come from carbon-free renewable resources–10 years ahead of schedule.

DMACC Electrical, Computer and Software Engineers as Leaders Program Awards Summer 2020 Scholarships in Response to COVID-19
DMACC has announced that five students were recently awarded one-time summer 2020 scholarships through its  Electrical, Computer and Software Engineers as Leaders (ECSEL) program . The program is a collaboration between DMACC and Iowa State University, and part of a nearly $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help improve diversity among students throughout STEM fields. Read the full news release .

Recognize Safe + Sound Week on August 10-16
Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event held each August that recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offers information and ideas on how to keep America's workers safe. Successful safety and health programs can proactively identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness, improving sustainability and the bottom line. Participating in Safe + Sound Week can help get your program started, energize an existing one or provide a chance to recognize your safety successes. Learn more .