Funnel Week Complete – ABI Priorities Advance, as Do Job Crushers

March 7, 2019

Numerous committee meetings were held this week as the Legislature worked to advance bills through the process before the first self-imposed deadline of the session known as the funnel. Bills must have passed at least one full committee in either chamber to be eligible for further legislative consideration. Bills that are Appropriations, Ways and Means or Government Oversight are exempt from the funnel requirements. The funnel helps lawmakers narrow their focus on key policy issues and tax and spending policies for the balance of the legislative session. ABI is currently tracking nearly 300 bills. Below is the status of a few key bills the association is following.

The following bills made it through the funnel and are still ALIVE:

HSB 179 – Future Ready Iowa Funding. Legislation appropriates more than $20 million to several programs outlined in the 2018 Future Ready Iowa policy bill. Two areas of interest are the Employer Innovation Fund and the Last Dollar Scholar. The bill is currently in House Appropriations. The bill aligns well with ABI’s workforce priority. ABI position: Support.

HF 593/SF 507 – Idiopathic Falls in Workers’ Compensation. Legislation codifies that if an employee falls from a level surface onto the same level surface due to an idiopathic or unexplained fall because of the employee’s own medical condition, it is not compensable under workers’ compensation. This bill addresses the Bluml vs Dee Jay’s Inc. d/b/a/ Long John Silvers and Commerce & Industry Insurance Company Iowa Supreme Court decision from November 2018. The bill passed the House Commerce Committee with bipartisan support, while the Senate Commerce Committee approved the legislation on a party-line vote. ABI position: Support.

HF 636 – Employer Firearm Prohibition. Prohibits employers from preventing employees from bringing a firearm onto the employer’s parking lot. The bill also includes school district property and courthouses. Some liability protections were added. The bill passed House Public Safety and is ready for floor debate. Similar legislation, SF 459, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and is also eligible for floor debate. ABI position: Against.

HSB 204/SSB 1193 Empower Rural Iowa. Legislation would encourage broadband expansion across the state. It also increases the workforce housing tax credit cap and changes the application process from first come, first served to being competitive. HSB 204 passed out of a Ways and Means subcommittee Wednesday. The Senate bill has not yet received a subcommittee hearing. ABI position: Support.

SF 516 – E-Verify. Legislation requires all public and private employers to use e-verify. Includes good faith language and that Iowa Workforce Development is the state agency that will ensure compliance. Substantial penalties exist if an employer does not comply with the legislation. The legislation as drafted also extends to subcontractors of a business. The legislation passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a partisan vote, with all Republicans supporting. ABI position: Undecided.

SF 476 – Adoption. Requires employers to treat employees who adopt a child the same as an employee who would be the biological parent of a newborn child regarding employment policies, benefits and protections for the first year. Passed Senate Labor. ABI position: Undecided.

HSB 223 – Association Free Speech Protections. The legislation seeks to protect members of 501c organizations by preventing when, and what type of information, public entities can request from non-profit organizations. The legislation allows information to be released when responding to a legal warrant or in discovery, but the requestor must demonstrate a compelling need and obtains a protective order barring disclosure to any party not directly involved in litigation. The bill passed House Judiciary Wednesday 20-1. ABI position: Support.

HCR 10/SCR 7 – Free Trade. A concurrent resolution urging Congress to enact legislation to approve the recently negotiated USMCA trade agreement. Passed in House and Senate Agriculture Committees. ABI position: Support.  

SF 475/HSB 167 – E-notary. Legislation would allow for electronic notary here in Iowa. Would increase the efficiency of certain transactions such as real estate closings. Amended and passed in Senate and House State Government. ABI position: Support.

SF 229 – Water Filter Certification. The bill puts Iowa in line with all other states regarding water filter certification. The legislation uses a national standard for testing and eliminates the Department of Public Health from having to certify third-party tests. It passed in the Senate 48-0 and has been approved by a House Commerce subcommittee. ABI position: Support.

HF 327 – Franchisee/Franchisor. Establishes clear law with regards to employer/employee relationship when a franchise agreement exists. Legislation is a result of a federal NLRB decision that blurred the lines of the employment relationship. It passed House Commerce with amendment. The Senate Commerce Committee also passed SF 510, without amendment, Wednesday. ABI position: Support.

SF 508 – Religious Freedom. Legislation enacts strict scrutiny when businesses use religion as a reason for not doing business with a customer. Passed Senate Local Government Committee. ABI position: Against.   

HF 650 – Employer Liability Shield. The bill will provide immunity from liability to an employer who hired an employee with a criminal background and that employee later commits an act against an individual. However, the bill doesn’t protect an employer if an individual is convicted of an offense while performing duties substantially similar to those expected to be performed in employment duties. The legislation passed the House Labor Committee. ABI position: Undecided.

HF 607 – Sales Tax Exemption for Aircraft Repairs. The legislation includes Iowa among the states that exempt parts and services of aircraft repairs from sales tax. The bill passed the House Ways and Means Committee and is eligible for floor debate. A fiscal note can be found here. ABI position: Support.

SF 501 – Medical Cannabidiol. Bill alters the definition of debilitating conditions by adding more conditions to the list. It allows physicians assistants and registered nurse practitioners to prescribe a cannabidiol registration card. It permits the Department of Public Health to issue cannabidiol cards to patients in hospice care. It also exempts medical cannabidiol products from sales tax. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. ABI position: Undecided.

HF 649/SF 519 – Agriculture Trespassing Penalties. Legislation creates a criminal offense for trespassing on agricultural production facilities. Those who use deception to gain access to facilities to cause economic or physical harm to property or individuals would be charged with a serious misdemeanor. The bills have passed the Agriculture Committees. ABI position: Support.

SF 241 – Unemployment Notification. Bill would require IWD to send an electronic notification to an employee confirming that the employee’s unemployment claim was successfully submitted to the Department. The bill passed the Senate Labor Committee. ABI position: Undecided.

SF 59 – Bottle Bill. Bill creates a definition for participating dealer that would allow grocery and convenience stores to opt out of having to collect redeemable cans and bottles. It also raises the handling fee distributors must pay from one to two cents. It passed Senate Natural Resources with a vote of 7-6. ABI position: Against (due to the section raising the handling fee).

HSB 223 – Association Free Speech. Passed House Judiciary subcommittee 20-1 with two amendments. This act relates to “restricting public agency disclosure of an access to certain personal information related to tax-exempt organizations, and providing penalties.” ABI position: Support.

SSB 1088 – Misconduct. The Senate Commerce Committee passed with amendment on a party-line vote language that would codify misconduct with regards to employment. Currently, Iowa Administrative Code defines misconduct, but there is not statutory language. The bill also gives several examples of what misconduct might include. ABI position: Undecided.

The following bills didn't make it through the funnel and are likely DEAD.

The Legislature considered several policies that could increase the cost of doing business or add additional burden to employers. ABI worked to educate legislators about the business impact the legislation could have if passed. As a reminder, no bill is ever “dead” in the legislature, and many of these proposed bills could show up in amendments or budget bills.

HSB 169/SSB 1192 – Computer Software Verifications. Would require companies that have contracts with local and state governments to use specific software that would track and store specific data with a third-party company. Currently in House and Senate State Government. ABI position: Against.

HF 384 – Pregnancy Accommodations. Would require an employer to provide reasonable pregnancy accommodations to employees based on medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. ABI position: Against.

SF 431 – Caucus Time Off. Legislation that would require employers to provide time off from work for an employee to participate in the caucuses. The legislation provides parameters around when time off can be denied. If an employer doesn’t comply, they are considered to have committed election misconduct, a simple misdemeanor.

HF 347/SF 262 – Energy Cost Recovery. This legislation deals with cost recovery and payment disclosures associated with closure of electric power facilities. ABI position: Against.

HF 298 –Temporary Employment Agencies. Prohibits certain fees from being charged, increases reporting requirements and hinders ability for temporary employment agencies to operate in the nursing industry. ABI position: Against.    

HF 302 – Red Tape Reduction. Bill would require that for every new regulation added to the administrative code, there must be at least two old regulations rescinded. ABI position: Undecided.

SF 390 – Public Employers-Ban The Box. The legislation prohibits public employers from asking about a prospective employee’s criminal background until an interview has been conducted or an initial offer of employment has been extended. The legislation also establishes a task force to study appropriate voluntary standards and procedures for evaluating applications from individuals with a criminal history. A subcommittee was held on the bill, but it did not advance.

SF 324 – Employee Time Off Due to Care/Transport of Child. The legislation requires employers to allow an employee time off to transport and/or care for a child during inclement weather. The employee would not have to request the time in advance, but could be required to show the child’s school was let out early, had a late start or did not have school due to weather. Violation of the provision is a $500 civil penalty each occurrence. ABI position: Against.