Legislative Committees Advance Employment Bills

February 21, 2019

This week, legislators held meetings in the House and Senate on bills that ABI members have expressed concern about, and some are included on ABI’s Job Crushers list. Here are just a few that advanced this week.

  • HSB 42 – IWD Policy Bill: Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) proposed legislation that would make changes to Iowa’s unemployment insurance system. The legislation included changes for dependents and implemented a one-week waiting period. The bill also changed how unemployment benefits are calculated for individuals who lose their job due to a business close. The House Labor Committee amended the bill Wednesday, Feb. 20 and eliminated the dependents provision and a one-week waiting period from the bill. The one-week waiting period was a provision ABI was supporting in the bill. ABI position prior to committee amendment: For.
  • HF 259 – Firearms on Employer Property: Similar to SF 213 currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee, HF 259 prohibits employers from having a policy that doesn’t allow employees, volunteers or subcontractors to bring a firearm on to the employer’s property as long as it's locked and out of sight in the motor vehicle of the employee. ABI has raised several concerns about the legislation–from liability for employers and workers’ compensation issues to what happens in the case of violation of policy. This bill is more expansive than the Senate bill and also addresses when an entertainment venue can/cannot prohibit weapons at a public event. We expect the bill to be amended and pass out of the Public Safety Committee next week. ABI position: Opposed.
  • SSB 1149 – Unemployment Legislation: Similar to HSB 42, but includes employee misconduct language, the subcommittee held a second meeting on Thursday, Feb. 21 to take more comments from the public and ask questions of Iowa Workforce Development. The subcommittee held another robust meeting with conversation from members of the lobby. Sen. Carlin is recommending amendment to the legislation and plans to hold another subcommittee early next week. Once the amendment has been drafted and the subcommittee approves, the bill will go to full Senate Labor Committee. ABI position: For.
  • SF 240 – Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA): A subcommittee of the Senate Local Government Committee met Tuesday, Feb. 19 to debate legislation that would add strict scrutiny in cases of the state proving a compelling reason to burden a person’s exercise of religion. Critics argue this would allow businesses to discriminate against certain groups, and could have a negative impact on businesses trying to recruit workers to the state, while proponents say this provides protection to those practicing their free exercise of religion. The bill passed the subcommittee by a 2-1 vote, and it is also expected to clear the first legislative funnel. ABI position: Opposed.
  • SF 243 – E-Verify: In the Iowa Senate, a Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing on SF 243, which mandates all employers with one or more employees use the federal government’s e-verify system. The bill passed the subcommittee by a vote of 2-1. Several questions were raised during the subcommittee, but with 26 Republican co-sponsors on the legislation, this bill is expected to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to the March 8 legislative funnel. ABI position: Undecided.