Employers on defense at the Capitol

February 4, 2016

Although it was a short week due to the Iowa caucuses and inclement weather, the Iowa Legislature wasted no time meeting about issues that will negatively affect businesses’ bottom lines. From health care mandates to additional exposure to lawsuits, proposals in both the House and Senate will increase the cost of doing business in Iowa. 

  • SF 313-Reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy (Currently in the Iowa Senate): The Iowa Senate on Thursday met in subcommittee to discuss a requirement for employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant working women. This bill has resurfaced from a few years ago, and stems from a Clinton firefighter not being allowed light duty. A Supreme Court decision late last year has spurred Sen. Chris Brase (D-Muscatine) to bring forward this legislation once more. The full Labor Committee is expected to hold a hearing on Feb. 10, where public testimony is welcome and encouraged. Staff contact: Nicole Crain

  • SF 2098Accommodations for new and expectant mothers (Currently in the Iowa Senate): This bill provides additional requirements with which employers must comply as it relates to expectant and nursing mothers. Some examples include additional break times, time off from work, and private space for expectant and nursing mothers. Additionally, the bill places the burden of proof and a rebuttable presumption on the employer as it relates to time off and accommodations from pregnancy. SF 2098 is expected to be amended into SF 313. A hearing will take place on the legislation on Feb. 10 and your comments are needed.

  • SF 410- Drug overdose prevention and health care mandate (Currently in the Iowa House): Last year, the Iowa Senate passed legislation to address opioid abuse and prevent liability for those who administer certain opioids. The Iowa House Public Safety Committee passed an amendment that includes a health care mandate. The mandate requires employers to cover the cost of certain opioids designed to be abuse deterrent at the lowest cost in a prescription benefit plan, regardless of what tier in which it would normally fit.

    Other states have looked at this proposal, and governors in New York and New Jersey have vetoed the legislation within the last two months because of the cost of the proposal and mixed reaction from the medical community. Contact your state representative and ask him or her to oppose the amendment to Senate File 410. Staff contacts: Nicole Crain and Myron Linn

  • SF 84 - Ban the Box (Currently in the Iowa Senate): A subcommittee of the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee met again today to discuss the “Ban the Box” proposal to prevent employers from asking about criminal background on the initial employment application. At the meeting, the original bill and a substitute bill were reviewed in detail. 

    The Subcommittee Chair indicated that he wanted to develop a bill that was substantive, not one that was symbolic only. 

    Neither versions of the Ban the Box proposal would require hiring a person with a criminal history.  However, the bills require non-value added steps to the process by interviewing applicants who ultimately will not be hired following a criminal background check.  Although 19 states have passed a Ban the Box bill, ABI pointed out that only 7 of them have applied the bill to both public and private employers. 

    Many issues were discussed, and no action was taken by the Subcommittee.  However, another attempt to pass the bill out of Subcommittee will be scheduled in order to get the bill to full committee prior to the first funnel date, Thursday, February 18. Staff contact: Myron Linn