Employer mandates highlight week at Capitol

February 11, 2016

Members of the ABI public policy team attended more than 50 subcommittees this week on topics ranging from GPS tracking systems in company vehicles and proposals to mandate insurance coverage for autism and eating disorders, to mandated time off for prenatal visits. Key bills discussed this week include: 

Wage Payment

Bill: SF 398
Chamber: Senate
Committee: Labor and Business Relations
Staff Contact: Myron Linn

SF 398 focuses on increased outreach and investigators in cases of wage payment complaints to Iowa Workforce Development. Each year, ABI has supported legislation that would enhance education and enforcement of wage payment requirements, and this bill speaks to both of those issues. An amendment was offered to the proposal that requires employers to provide information about wages up front, and not just when requested by the labor commissioner.

Action: Passed out of subcommittee with amendment, will move to the full Senate Labor and Business Relations Committee early next week.

Wage Discrimination Bill: SSB 3071
Chamber: Senate
Committee: Labor and Business Relations
Staff Contact: Myron Linn

A Senate Labor Subcommittee met Monday to discuss SSB 3071, a bill that creates new restrictions and requirements related to salary disclosure. The bill would:

  • prohibit an employer from inquiring about a worker’s current salary
  • prohibit an employer from seeking a potential employee’s salary history
  • prohibit an employer from releasing salary information about current and former employees
  • require that employers post a minimum salary to all job listings
  • requires that for any pay differential among protected classes listed in the bill, employers would have to show that there were no alternatives available to the employer
  • establish an equal pay task force

Action: Bill passed out of subcommittee and forwarded to full committee 

Autism and Eating Disorder Coverage Mandates
Bill: SF 2072, SF 2019
Chamber: Senate
Committee: Commerce
Staff Contact: Myron Linn

On Wednesday, a three-member Senate Commerce subcommittee considered SF 2072, which would require group health insurance policies to provide coverage benefits before the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. The mandate would apply to employer plans with at least 50 employees, and the maximum annual benefit amount would be $36,000 per person.

Also Wednesday, a Senate Commerce subcommittee considered SF 2019, which would require group health insurance policies to provide coverage benefits for diagnostic assessment and treatment of eating disorders.

ABI is registered opposed to these employer sponsored health insurance plan mandates and shared reasons for our opposition during the subcommittee meetings.

Action: Both bills were passed by the subcommittees and were forwarded to the full Commerce Committee for consideration next week.

Read more: Bill would expand autism insurance mandate in Iowa (QC Times)

Ban the Box 
Bill: SF 84
Chamber: Senate
Staff Contact: 
Myron Linn

A third subcommittee meeting took place late Thursday to discuss an amendment to SF 84. SF 84 prevents employers from asking about a prospective employee’s criminal background. After the first meeting proponents of the legislation wanted to enhance the bill. The purpose of the meeting today is to review and take comment on the proposed amendment. ABI public policy counsel Myron Linn provided feedback on the proposal and explained ABI member concerns. 

Action: The amended bill passed out of subcommittee on a 2-1 vote and was forwarded to the full Judiciary Committee

Pregnancy Accommodations
Bill: SF 313
Chamber: Senate
Committee: Labor and Business Relations
Staff Contact: Nicole Crain

Three women spoke Wednesday before the Senate Labor and Business Relations Committee in favor of workplace accommodations for pregnant employees. The women were all public employees, two of whom worked for the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and one who worked as a firefighter for the city of Clinton. An attorney speaking in favor of the legislation argued that it provides clarity for employees and employers.

SF 313 would require employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant employees, including job restructuring, providing new or modified equipment, and modifying the employee’s work schedule unless it poses an undue hardship to the employer. ABI is registered opposed to the legislation and requested clarification about definitions in the law and compliance with federal EEOC laws.

Action: No action was taken Wednesday, but bill sponsor Sen. Chris Brase (D-Des Moines plans to amend SF 2098 into 313. Labor Committee Chairman Sen. Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines) plans to move the legislation forward.

Paid Time for Prenatal Care
Bill: SF 2097
Chamber: Senate
Committee: Labor and Business
Staff Contact: Nicole Crain

Members of an all male subcommittee in the Senate met to discuss mandating at least 40 hours off for employee prenatal visits. This time would be in addition to any sick or paid time off provided by the employer. Furthermore, the employer cannot require the employee to take the sick/paid time before the prenatal time. The bill only applies to employers with more than 50 employees. The bill also allows employees who work any number of hours to receive the paid time off for appointments. ABI spoke in opposition to the bill and expressed specific concern with the applicability to all employees regardless of hours worked and explained the purpose of paid time is to attend medical appointments.

Action: The bill passed out of subcommittee 2-1 and is expected to come before the full Senate Labor Committee next week.

Tax Credits for Hiring Iowa Contractors
Bill: SSB 3095
Chamber: Senate
Committee: Economic Growth
Staff Contact: Nicole Crain

SSB 3095 allows a portion of high quality job monies to be used as a tax credit for companies that contract with Iowa contractors and subcontractors who have apprenticeship programs to do work on a specific project. This legislation would benefit businesses in Iowa that may not have many new jobs created with a specific project, but will be using Iowa contractors on the job. A company will be required to be eligible for the high quality jobs program to be eligible for the new tax credit. Although the goal of the bill is to support hiring Iowa workers, there is currently nothing in the language that requires the employees live in Iowa.

Action: Passed out of subcommittee, will move to the full Senate Economic Growth Committee early next week.

Biorenewable Chemical Bill
Bill: HSB 518
Chamber: House
Committee: Economic Growth
Staff Contact: Nicole Crain

The House Economic Growth Committee passed HSB 518 out of full committee on Thursday afternoon. The bill, which will provide incentives for new biotechnology companies, is a priority of the Economic Development Authority. ABI is registered in favor of the legislation.

Action: Since the bill involves tax policy, it will now move to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Read more: Tax credit could spur biochemical revolution (Des Moines Register)

Bottle Bill
Bills: HSB 507, HSB 508, HSB 509, HSB 510
Chamber: House
Committee: Environmental Protection
Staff Contact: Emily Schettler

An Iowa House subcommittee met Wednesday to hear from stakeholders about Iowa’s bottle bill and potential changes to the law, which offers a 5-cent deposit on some beverage containers. Four House Study Bills offered changes to the bill, including:

  • raising the deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents
  • relieving dealers from having to accept used beverage containers from consumers and return the deposit
  • add water, juice and sports drinks containers to those eligible for a deposit
  • repeal of the bottle bill and elimination of the deposit

Action: Lawmakers did not discuss the proposals after hearing from stakeholders, but committee chairwoman Rep. Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) said legislators have a responsibility to continue discussions on the issue.

Read more: Iowa lawmakers debate possible bottle bill changes (The Gazette)