First Funnel Complete: A Look at What’s Alive and Dead
February 20, 2020
The first legislative deadline of the 2020 legislative session is complete and week seven begins on Monday. Hundreds of proposals have been considered by the legislature with many advancing for further consideration while others have met their fate. A bill, with some exceptions, must have passed through a full committee to survive the first funnel. Though this deadline helps narrow the focus of the Legislature, it’s important to note that nothing is ever truly dead until the legislature adjourns sine die. Below are some of the key bills ABI is tracking through week six.
HF2384/SF2313 – Future Ready Iowa. Gov. Reynolds' legislation has passed full committees in both the House and Senate. It creates a new apprenticeship program and initiates a child care challenge fund that incentivizes businesses to create child care facilities. It also increases computer science education in K-12 schools and expands the definition of eligible student under the Last-Dollar Scholarship program. Workforce is a top priority for ABI this year. ABI position: Support.
HF2459/SF2262 – Empower Rural Iowa. Gov. Reynolds' bill makes technical changes to the state’s broadband program while enhancing the percentage of matching grants from the state to deploy higher speeds of broadband in underserved areas. The legislation passed Commerce Committees in both chambers. The House bill has been referred to Appropriations, and the Senate bill is likely to be referred there as well. ABI position: Support.
HF2470 – Licensing Reform. Another one of Gov. Reynolds’ bills is her effort to streamline occupational licensing to make it easier for skilled workers to practice their trade in Iowa. The bill also has some criminal justice pieces related to making it easier for those who have been convicted of a crime in the past to know whether or not they can receive a particular license. It also eliminates application fees for those below a particular income level. It passed House Commerce and has been referred to Ways & Means for further consideration. ABI position: Support.
HF2309 – Criminal Background Check Local Ordinances. ABI maintains the law passed in 2017 prevents cities and counties from passing local ordinances affecting hiring practices or the setting of minimum wages and other business practices. Nonetheless, the city of Waterloo passed an ordinance that would prohibit businesses from asking about an applicant's criminal history or conducting background checks until individuals are well into the hiring process. HF2309 puts teeth into the 2017 law by awarding attorney fees to parties that successfully challenge such ordinances. The bill has passed the House Judiciary Committee and is eligible for debate on the House floor. ABI position: Support.
SF2273/HF2473 – Synthetic Urine Prohibition. The bill creates criminal penalties for those who would use synthetic urine to defraud an alcohol or drug screening test. The purpose of the legislation is to deter individuals from attempting this activity. Both bills have passed committees in the House and Senate. They’re now eligible for floor debate. ABI position: Support.
SF2325 – Employer Protections for Marijuana Usage. The bill explicitly spells out that employers have a right to maintain a zero tolerance drug-free workplace. The legislation ensures that employers cannot face a cause of action for discrimination if they dismiss someone for violating that policy. The bill passed the full Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. ABI position: Support.
SF2359 – Evidence of Past Medical Expenses. ABI has been working with the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) and the Iowa Motor Truck Association (IMTA) to bring legislation that will limit evidence of past medical costs to actual amounts paid rather than amounts that have been billed by providers. Insurers often negotiate lower payments to providers on behalf of employer health plans. The bill ensures that any economic recovery in a civil action will be based on actual costs and not on amounts that were never paid. The bill has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and could see Senate floor action as soon as next week. ABI position: Support.
SF2296/HF2479 – Independent Contractors Operating Certain Vehicles. This preserves a current business model in Iowa relating to independent contractors as truck drivers. Actions in other states have sought to make categories of worker that perform as independent contractors reclassified as employees for the purposes of unemployment insurance and workers' compensation. This preserves the current business model enjoyed by trucking business owners and their independent contractor drivers. The bills are eligible for floor debate in both chambers. ABI position: Support.
HSB600/SF2337 – Asbestos Over-Naming. ABI, in conjunction with member insurers, is supporting legislation that will end the practice whereby companies are named as defendants in asbestos cases where there is no link between the company and the individual bringing the action. Rather than being named in a lawsuit and having to fight their way out of the court action, the bill would require a party bringing suit to show some connection to the named defendants. SF2337 is ready for Senate floor action. ABI position: Support.
SF2333/HF2462 – Unemployment Benefits. This Iowa Workforce Development legislation repeals the provisions of the code that automatically increase wage credits to 50% versus 33% when a business closing is involved. It also repeals the additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits under this scenario. Both bills are eligible for floor debate. ABI position: Support.
SF2338 – Noneconomic Damages Cap & Evidence of Past Medical Expenses. ABI is part of a large coalition supporting legislation that places a hard cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. This bill sets the cap at $750,000. The legislation also contains similar language to that of SSB3135, which we commented on above. ABI position: Support.
SF2332 – Low Wage Noncompetes. The bill prohibits employers from using non-competes with low wage employees. Low wage employee is defined as someone who makes 200% of the federal minimum wage or less. ABI is undecided on this version of the bill, but there is talk of expanding it further with an amendment, which would give us pause for concern. The bill passed Senate Labor and Business Relations yesterday. ABI position: Undecided.
HF2417/SF2165 – Adoption. The legislation mandates that an employer must treat an employee who chooses to adopt in the same manner as an employee who is the biological parent of a newborn child for purposes of employment policies, benefits and protections for the first year of adoption. The Senate version explicitly states that an employee is not entitled to disability leave unless they have a condition that qualifies under the employer’s policies. Both bills are eligible for floor debate. ABI position: Undecided.
HF2423/SSB3117 – Prohibition of Non-Medical Switching of Drug Formularies by Health Plans. The bill would freeze drug formularies in health plans offered by employers and freeze copays and cost-sharing paid by employees. The bill would not freeze pharmaceutical pricing. The House version passed the Human Resources Committee and is eligible for floor debate. The Senate version will be amended to create a study of the issue so that the effects of the bill can be better understood. ABI position: Opposed to HF2423, Neutral on SSB3117.
HF2192 – Telehealth Reimbursement Rates. The bill would require that in-person health care and telehealth services be reimbursed at the same rate. An amendment was adopted during committee consideration that could potentially allow full reimbursement even if no health care professional is available for live consultation while providing a fully reimbursable service. ABI staff is continuing to seek clarity in the language. HF2192 is available for House floor action. There is no Senate companion. ABI position: Undecided.
SF459/HF636 – Guns in Employer Parking Lots. Both bills mandate that employers are prohibited from having a company policy that disallows employees from having weapons on the company’s parking lot. The legislation violated employers’ private property rights and would have increased risks at workplaces. Neither bill passed out of a full committee. ABI position: Opposed.
HSB555 – Election Leave. The bill mandates that an employer must give 30 days of unpaid leave to an employee prior to a special, primary or general election if the employee requests so to run for office. The legislation also prohibits an employer from having a policy preventing an employee from running for office and also states that an employer may not take an adverse action against an employee if they choose to run for office. The bill was approved in House State Government late today. ABI position: Opposed.
SF2074 – Election Leave. Similar to HSB555, but does not require an employer to give 30 days of unpaid leave to an employee prior to that timeframe before a special, primary or general election. The bill, like the House legislation, erodes Iowa’s status as an at-will state and removes the rights of the employer in this situation. ABI position: Opposed.
SF2003 – Work Comp Prosthetic Devices. Under the workers’ compensation chapter, this bill would result in an employee being eligible for subsequent prosthetic devices if the device is needed as a result of a compensable injury. Under current law, an employer is only required to furnish one set of prosthetic devices. The bill passed a subcommittee, but was not considered in full committee. ABI position: Opposed.
HSB608 – Reasonable Pregnancy Accommodations. The bill mandates that an employer provide reasonable accommodations to an employee based on medical conditions related to the employee’s pregnancy of childbirth. The definition of reasonable accommodations is very broad and the term undue hardship is also undefined, which will lead to increased litigation by plaintiff attorneys. The bill passed House State Government today. The bill passed House State Government today.ABI position: Opposed.
HF298 – Temporary Employment Agencies. Prohibits certain fees from being charged, increases reporting requirements and hinders ability for temporary employment agencies to operate in the nursing industry. ABI position: Opposed.
SF508 – Religious Freedom. Legislation enacts strict scrutiny when businesses use religion as a reason for not doing business with a customer. It passed a Senate subcommittee, but was not taken up in full committee. ABI position: Opposed.