New laws go into effect Saturday, July 1

June 29, 2017

Each year the Iowa Legislature passes hundreds of pieces of legislation. Some of the reforms advocated for by ABI are already in effect, but you will see several new laws go into effect on Saturday, July 1 that will affect how you do business.

Workers' compensation reform (HF 518): ABI's top priority bill for the 2017 session, the bill initiated major workers' compensation reform to rebalance the system. The legislation has already resulted in a 3.9 percent workers compensation rate reduction for 2017 amounting to $39 million in savings to Iowa employers. For a breakdown of this important legislation, click here.

Competitive bidding (HF 293):Allows Iowa manufacturers to competitively bid for contracts from departments and agencies against Iowa Prison Industries.

Small business development (HF 607): Allows craft liquor distillers to mix cocktails and pour drinks for their patrons. It allows for an increase in production of alcohol at distillers facilities. It also increases the number of bottles of product a customer may buy.

Texting while driving (SF 234): Makes texting while driving a primary offense, which means law enforcement officers may now pull over drivers who they suspect are using their phones to write, send or view electronic messages. Examples include: texting, browsing the internet, reading emails or taking pictures. Drivers can still use their phones to make calls and for GPS.

Requalification for unemployment benefits (HF 542):Increases the amount an individual must earn annually to qualify for a second year of unemployment benefits from the lowest in the nation $250, to eight times the average weekly amount for that individual. This puts Iowa on par with many other states for requalification for a second benefit year. (Actual effective date July 2, 2017)

Jobs impact statement for rulemaking (SF 1):Codifies an earlier executive order by then Gov. Terry Branstad, which requires a jobs impact statement and cost benefit analysis for every proposed rule. It also requires agencies to minimize impacts on jobs before proposing a rule.

Drug testing (SF 32): Allows employers to use hair for drug testing prospective employees.

Duty of care to trespassers (SF 260): An ABI bill, this legislation codifies Iowa's common law on the duty of care owed to trespassers on land to ensure that courts cannot unilaterally expand this duty.

Asbestos trust claims (SF 376): Curbs abuses and increases transparency in asbestos trust claims. Ensures those who are ill with asbestos-related illnesses are compensated first.

Property tax assessments (HF 478): Mandates new education requirements for assessors. Provides for the removal of an assessor for not adhering to proper assessment methods. Beginning January 1, 2018, prohibits assessors from using sales receipts and other financial data for commercial and industrial property assessments and shifts the burden of proof from the complainant to the assessor when the complainant offers competent evidence that the market value of the property is different than that determined by the assessor.

Theft of rental property (SF 403): Makes theft of equipment rental property a crime.

Statute of repose (SF 413): Reduces the amount of time when a lawsuit can be brought for a defective condition discovered after construction to eight years for commercial property and 10 years for residential property, unless there is evidence of fraudulent concealment. If the condition is detected within one year from the expiration of the statute of repose, the period extends another year.

Medical malpractice tort reform (SF 465): Caps noneconomic damages in medicalmalpractice claims at $250,000 unless actual malice is shown or the jury finds the plaintiff has certain serious consequences caused by the malpractice. Sets new standards for who may qualify as an expert witness and requires a certificate of merit.

Trespassing fines (HF 69):Clarifies when a trespasser has received notice and makes trespassing a criminal fine. Specifies that an officer may arrest a trespasser for refusing to leave or returning to the property.

Regulatory reform (SF 331): Allows electric and gas utilities that are not required to be rate-regulated to submit federally required forms or reports to the IUB in lieu of duplicative reports.

Texting penalties (SF 444): Establishes a penalty for drivers who kill others when using their phones unlawfully. Those found guilty could receive a Class C Felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It also creates at 24/7 sobriety program that requires those convicted of an OWI to participate in a twice daily monitoring program.

Already in effect
State preemption of wage, benefits and hiring practices (HF 295): Prohibits local governments from creating a patchwork of local ordinances mandating minimum wages, worker benefits and hiring practices on businesses. Voided existing ordinances regulating these areas.

OSHA penalties (HF 529) Increases OSHA penalties and includes automatic indexing. The legislation was required to conform to federal rules updating the OSHA program.

PLA prohibition (SF 438): Prevents state and local governments from mandating the use of project labor agreements for public construction projects.

Medical cannabidiol program expansion (HF 524): Expands the state's medical cannabidiol program to authorize cannabidiol use from only those with intractable epilepsy to patients with additional medical conditions. The legislation retains the 3 percent THC limit in cannabidiol in Iowa and sunsets and replaces the existing medical cannabidiol program. It allows cannabidiol dispensaries in Iowa, allows reciprocity with Minnesota, and contains employer drug testing protections to allow employers to continue and enforce drug testing policies.

Public employment reform (HF 291): A number of collective bargaining reforms for most public employees. The law reduces the number of subjects a union can bargain for. Unions now have the financial responsibility for collecting dues versus taxpayers. It also requires public workers to recertify the unions that bargain on their behalf for every new contract. These are just a few of the reforms that became law earlier this year.

Read more:
New laws to take effect July 1 (KWWL)
Drivers put down that phone or risk a fine (Des Moines Register)