ABI Priorities Advancing Through the Legislature

March 11, 2024 | Miller Products’ Core Strengths Endure

Hundreds of ABI members came together over the course of several months last year to provide feedback and recommendations regarding our 2024 public policy priorities. The Board of Directors ultimately approved the priorities of Workforce, Taxes and Regulatory Reform in September. As the second session of the 90th Iowa General Assembly continues to march forward, we’re pleased to share that ABI priorities are moving through the legislative process.

Workforce has been a top priority for many sessions now. This encompasses removing barriers towards the expansion of housing and childcare, funding for workforce programs and workplace safety. The House has advanced a bill that would expand the workforce housing tax credit program from $35 million to $50 million. The rural set aside in the bill would increase from $17.5 million to $25 million.
Both chambers are also looking at legislation that would mitigate unnecessary costs when it comes to the construction of homes. They have done this by moving bills that would pre-empt local governments regarding the regulation of topsoil and stormwater and the regulation of styles and materials for the exterior of residential buildings. By setting a single standard for these elements, it provides predictability and certainty for homebuilders as they seek to create affordable workforce housing in all corners of the state.
There has been strong bipartisan support for funding programs like Future Ready Iowa, apprenticeships, work-based learning, STEM, etc. in the past. We expect that to continue to occur this year once policymakers begin dialing in the numbers for the FY 2025 budget.
It’s imperative that employers can maintain drug and alcohol-free workplace programs, which helps ensure everyone can work in a safe environment. The Senate and a House committee have passed a bill that would significantly improve the drug and alcohol testing statute. Under current law, an employer has the burden of proving their innocence if a claim is brought against them, thus they’re guilty until proven innocent. The bill flips the burden back to the plaintiff to prove their case against the employer, which imposes proper jurisprudence. The legislation also modernizes communication methods for exchanging drug and alcohol testing results, tightens up the definition of “safety sensitive position” and creates an evidentiary standard for the plaintiff to meet when proving their case. These are all positive reforms for businesses.

Governor Kim Reynolds and the Ways & Means chairs in both chambers have offered legislation that would continue to take our state in a pro-growth direction when it comes to taxes, a priority for ABI. Hearings have been held on proposals that would accelerate current income tax cuts and lower individual and corporate tax rates even further. One proposal sets up a mechanism to phase out the individual income tax entirely. Another proposal would amend the State Constitution to enshrine the flat tax for personal income and require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise income taxes in the future. This resolution would have to pass two consecutive General Assemblies and then need a simple majority vote from Iowa voters in order to be enacted. The earliest this could be on the ballot is November 2026. ABI is supporting all those bills and the efforts of policymakers to continue making Iowa’s tax climate stronger for all taxpayers.

Regulatory Reform
Lawmakers are considering two different bills that would reduce the number of boards and commissions Iowa has. There was a Boards and Commissions Review Committee that met during the interim last year and provided recommendations to Governor Reynolds and the Legislature. They suggested eliminating over 100 boards and commissions and streamlining others. The Senate has advanced a bill largely based upon the recommendations of the committee while the House is pushing forward a narrower version of reform.