Status of ABI Workforce Priorities – Governor’s Workforce Bills

April 7, 2022

As the Iowa legislative session draws to a close, the Iowa House and Iowa Senate are moving significant pieces of workforce legislation that contain key ABI public policy priorities. Gov. Kim Reynolds also requested the legislature act on these priorities during her Condition of the State address in January. Both the House and Senate have acted on legislation to reform our current unemployment system by refocusing the system to get out of work workforce participants back into the workforce quickly. The legislation would also improve the solvency of the unemployment trust fund by shortening the unemployment benefits period. Currently, the House and Senate differ on whether a person in their first week of unemployment should be eligible for benefits, or if Iowa should join the 43 states that withhold benefits until week two. HF 2355, as amended by the Senate, is back in the House, and we expect legislative leaders and Gov. Reynolds to find common ground on the legislation as the session winds down. 

Other bills, namely HF 2569 and SF 2383, contain other important ABI policies. ABI has identified the need to expand the popular “School to Work Programs” that expose high schoolers to job opportunities with local employers, while earning high school credits. Both the House and Senate bills contain those provisions. Other portions of the bills as introduced contain provisions that should help on the workforce housing front. One provision seeks to bring some uniformity to county and city zoning so builders know what to expect when they build in new jurisdictions. This provision would also prevent localities from adding costly building requirements by ordinance. Another cost managing provision would limit local jurisdictions from adopting codes affecting home construction that are more stringent than state codes. At this point, the School to Work programs have general consensus from both chambers, but differences between chambers on zoning and building code issues remain unresolved.