ABI Priorities Advance at the Iowa Statehouse

March 10, 2017 | Industry leaders flying under the radar Nicole Crain, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, Iowa Association of Business and Industry, ncrain@iowaabi.org

The first legislative funnel was March 3, and several ABI priority issues moved forward. A funnel is a self-imposed legislative deadline established to minimize the number of bills pending and to help legislators direct their focus on a fewer number of bills. The second legislative funnel is March 31. In order for bills to pass the second funnel, they have to have been voted out of one chamber and out of a committee in the opposite chamber.

Here is a summary of some ABI priority issues that have moved forward. Read ABI’s weekly e-newsletter for the most up-to-date information on pending legislation.

Workforce – Improving the quality of Iowa’s workforce is a year-round goal focused on participation in public-private partnerships like Future Ready Iowa Alliance, Home Base Iowa and ABI members’ support of our own Elevate Advanced Manufacturing initiative. There are a few proactive pieces of legislation ABI is supporting.

SF 274 encourages school districts to establish educational standards for students. The legislation also establishes a computer science work group to look at how educational standards would help students excel in math and those fields designated as career and technical education. The work group includes education, business and labor representatives.

Competitive Business Climate – Sustaining Iowa’s competitive business climate is a main focus of the ABI public policy team this session. There are several pieces of legislation that are pending that will make Iowa a more competitive place for employers.

HF 518/SF 435 brings Iowa’s workers’ compensation system back into balance and addresses recent Supreme Court and administrative law judge decisions that have eroded the exclusive remedy of Iowa’s system. Iowa has gone from fifth best in the country 11 years ago to middle of the pack, in terms of employer premiums. Benefits for employees have not changed, but premiums have increased due to aggressive plain - tiff attorneys and activist judges.

HF 295 pre-empts local government entities from enacting wage and benefit legislation. The patchwork that has existed in the state the last two years has been an administrative nightmare for employers. The legislation in the Iowa House will address that issue and rein - force the fact that the state is responsible for setting the policy for wages and benefits, not counties and cities.

Environmental Investment and Accountability – ABI staff spends hours working on environmental regulations and working with Iowa DNR throughout the year, not just during the legislative session. The main legislative issue addresses Iowa’s water quality and policy that aligns with Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy. Another piece of legislation, HSB 24/SSB 1044, eliminates duplicative reporting to the Iowa Utilities Board with some forms that are already required by the federal government. ABI supports this regulatory reform bill.