ABI Workforce Priorities Advance at Iowa Statehouse

March 13, 2020 | An Iowa success story JD Davis, Vice President, Public Policy, ABI, jddavis@iowaabi.org

The Iowa Legislature is narrowing the list of policy bills that may be considered for final approval during the 2020 legislative session. The second legislative funnel comes on Friday, March 20. By that date all policy bills must been voted out of one chamber and a committee in the opposite chamber to receive further consideration from the Legislature.

The governor and Legislature are building on two key workforce policy initiatives that gained strong bipartisan passage during the 2018 legislative session and have proven to be successful in meeting their goals.

Future Ready Iowa (HF2384/SSB3077) – This legislation will expand the Employer Innovation Fund, a matching grant program for local education and workforce development initiatives that matches worker training and education with the needs of employers filling high demand jobs. This proposal also creates the Child Care Challenge, allowing similar local innovation and partnership in the construction or renovation of facilities to become child care facilities. In a strong economy the lack of affordable or available childcare is a major barrier to expanding the workforce.

Empower Rural Iowa (SF2262/HSB657) – This legislation triples the amount of grant funding for the deployment of high speed internet service through the Broadband Grant program. As written, the legislation would provide greater support for projects with greater speeds. Rural businesses and precision agriculture are the beneficiaries of this program, and the additional funding will speed deployment. A third initiative also seeks to aid in getting workers to the workforce through Professional Licensing Reform (SSB3122/HSB647/SF2114). More Iowans are required to hold a professional license to practice their chosen professions than workers in 48 other states. Properly designed licensing promotes safety and standards in specific occupations. Poorly designed or burdensome licensing requirements are a barrier to workforce entry for new Iowans and low income residents. This legislative initiative seeks a new balance to aid in expanding workforce opportunities for both employees and employers. 

If you are an ABI member, you receive more information on these initiatives and others via the weekly e-newsletter and conference calls held every other Friday during session. Please contact Michelle Vollstedt at mvollstedt@iowaabi.org to make sure you are on the list.