ABI Priorities Clear First Funnel
March 4, 2021
Tomorrow marks the first legislative funnel of the 2021 legislative session, but all work was completed this afternoon. A number of bills have survived while others have fallen by the wayside. Most bills, except for primarily Ways & Means and Appropriations, must have passed through a full committee in either chamber to be considered eligible for the rest of the year. ABI staff has been successful in advancing member priorities.
With week eight in the books, we’re approximately halfway through the 2021 legislative session, which is set to adjourn on April 30. The list of bills below is a snapshot of some of the highest priority bills we’re tracking. If you have questions about these or other proposals, please contact JD Davis or Brad Hartkopf.
SF 492/HSB 203 – Unemployment Insurance Tax Reform – This key legislation makes several reforms to ensure the long-term solvency of Iowa’s unemployment insurance trust fund system including implementing a one-week waiting period for benefits, narrowing and strengthening the integrity of dependents payments, enhancing suitable work requirements and more. Both bills have passed through their respective Labor Committees and are eligible for floor debate. ABI position: For.
SF 361/HF 748 – Drug and Alcohol Testing Reform – A subcommittee of ABI members came together last fall to discuss improvements to Iowa’s private sector drug testing statute for employers. The result is legislation that is moving through the legislative process. The legislation flips the burden of proof from the employer to the plaintiff to prove allegations the employer violated the drug or alcohol testing code section. It also modernizes communication methods between employers and employees regarding the exchange of drug or alcohol testing results. The legislation is eligible for debate on the floors of both chambers. ABI position: For.
SF 390/HSB 133 – Broadband – Gov. Reynolds has put forward legislation that would incentivize private industry to facilitate the expansion of high-speed broadband in targeted service areas. Both bills have passed the committee level. Appropriations for broadband deployment will come later in the session as lawmakers craft the budget for FY22. ABI position: For.
HF 582/SF 295 – Housing – Another bill the governor has put forward is a housing omnibus that seeks to facilitate the creation of affordable and available workforce housing across the state. The legislation doubles the workforce housing tax credit program, creates a new tax credit program for developers, eliminates a cap on how much monies can go to local housing trust funds, and more. Both bills are now in Ways & Means and alive for the rest of the session. ABI position: For.
Childcare – There are several legislative proposals aimed at making childcare more affordable and available this year. Bills related to addressing the cliff effect, providing tax credits to employers who provide childcare for their employees, expanding the number of children in-home providers can watch and more have advanced through the funnel deadline. ABI is tracking these bills as they continue to work their way through the legislative process. ABI position: Monitor.
HF 592/SF 557 – Noneconomic Damage Caps for Medical Malpractice – The legislation caps noneconomic damages for medical malpractice cases at $1 million. HF 592 passed out of the House Human Resources Committee while SSB 1225 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. ABI position: For.
SSB 1235 – Disclosure Requirements – This regulatory reform bill exempts licensed and registered mortgage bankers from particular disclosures related to qualified mortgages if the points and fees charged to the borrower remain under a certain federal threshold. The bill passed the full Senate Commerce Committee today. ABI position: For.
HSB 233 – Manufacturing 4.0 – The legislation creates a Manufacturing 4.0 technology investment program that allows eligible manufacturers to apply for grants or loans to invest in smart technologies. It also includes first-year depreciation for companies who invest in the transition to a smart technology environment. The bill came out of House Economic Growth today. ABI position: For.
SF 455/HF 555 – Gas Bans – The legislation prohibits counties and cities from regulating the sale and use of natural gas and propane. Both bills have passed through the committee level. ABI position: For.
SF 537/HSB 259 – Motor Vehicle Tort Reform – The legislation aims to limit the liability of employers in the motor truck industry in multiple ways including limiting non-economic damages. Both bills are through the committee level. ABI position: For.
SF 362/HF 724 – Adoption Mandate – Bills that have passed Senate Labor and House Commerce require employers to treat employees who adopt a child in the same manner as they would biological parents of newborns concerning employment policies, benefits and protections for the first year. ABI position: Undecided.
SF 496 – Low-wage Non-compete Agreements – The bill prohibits employers from using non-competes with low-wage employees. Low-wage employee is defined as someone who makes $14.50 an hour or less. ABI has been successful in helping narrow the scope of this bill. There was another piece of legislation that was far more expansive than SF 496, but that bill did not move forward thanks to our work with the bill manager. ABI position: Undecided.
HF 706 – Telehealth 100% Parity – ABI supports telehealth as a means of delivering health care services. Several bills have been offered this session dealing with this subject matter. ABI inserts itself into the debate to ensure that employers are getting maximum value for those services and does not overpay for services that are not commensurate with in-person care. Insurers and provider networks are working on a non-legislative solution through contracting, which will meet that goal. We appreciate the policy focus the Legislature brings to the issue but prefer the non-legislative solution. ABI position: Undecided.
SF 339 – E-Verify Mandate – The bill requires that all employers regardless of size utilize the federal E-verify system here in Iowa. A second violation of the bill would mean a revocation of all business licenses at the particular entity where the alleged violation occurred. There is no House companion to the bill. ABI position: Against.
SF 485 – Pregnancy Accommodations – The legislation requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are pregnant or have a medical condition related to pregnancy. The bill was amended in committee that made it less problematic than the original bill, but it still creates penalties and allows for potential lawsuits against employers who violate the bill. ABI position: Against.
HF 729 – Pharmacy Benefit Managers and Pharmacies – Health plans offered by many ABI members use pharmacy benefit managers to help control the cost of prescription drugs and keep health plans offered to employees as affordable as possible. HF729, which is supported by pharmacies and some drug manufacturers, removes many of the cost controls from current practice and shifts costs between parties making health plans more expensive to offer for employers. The bill has passed the House Commerce Committee. There is no companion bill in the Senate. ABI position Against.
SF 193 – Prohibition of Vaccine Mandates – The bill mandates that employers cannot refuse to hire, discharge, penalize or otherwise discriminate against an employee based on their vaccine history or the employee’s refusal to receive a vaccine. The legislation flies directly in the face of Iowa’s status of being an at-will state. It was amended in committee, but kept the aforementioned division in the bill. ABI position: Against.
HF 121 – Rebuttable Presumption for COVID-19 – The legislation creates a rebuttable presumption for employees who can show they were exposed to someone who has COVID-19 in the workplace. This would require employers to pay workers’ compensation benefits to such employees. The bill did not advance. ABI position: Against.
SF 137 – FMLA – The bill creates a state program for paid family leave and medical leave for employees. The bill was assigned a subcommittee, but no hearing was held. ABI position: Against.
HF 122 – Minimum Wage Hike – The legislation would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15/hour over the course of the next four years. The bill had multiple sponsors, but ultimately did not receive a subcommittee assignment or hearing. ABI position: Against.
HF 275 – Paid Sick and Safe Time – “The Healthy and Safe Family and Workplace Act” requires minimum paid sick and safe time for all employees in the state. An employee could accrue up to 83 hours of such time each year. The bill did not move forward. ABI position: Against.