Issues Tracked During Week 4

February 2, 2024

SF 108 / HSB 105 - E-verify

It was a tale of two chambers this week as the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced and a House Judiciary subcommittee killed an employer opposed measure that would require employers to go beyond filling out I-9 immigration paperwork and consult a federal database to further confirm immigration status. The database is available for employers on a voluntary basis today.

The bill would also allow any citizen to make a complaint about an employer, and require Iowa Workforce Development to investigate. The penalty for two violations of the law is the loss of business licenses to operate in the state. Maddeningly, under the law, an affirmative defense against any allegation of wrongdoing was the gathering of all required I-9 information, which of course are the same documents required to be used by the E-Verify system.

ABI has a clear position: the federal government must solve the immigration problem and criminalizing employers at the state level is the wrong approach.

  • ABI Position: Against

Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) Legislation

In 2022, the last bill to pass the legislature unanimously supported reforms to Pharmacy Benefit Managers. The measure gave more oversight to the Insurance Commissioner and ended some financial practices between PBMs and pharmacies. ABI was opposed to the measure until amended to remove unnecessary costs to employers that offered health plans.

At the request of the Insurance Commissioner, the House Commerce Committee and a Senate Commerce subcommittee have advanced clarifying legislation (HF 2099/SSB 3079) relating to the Insurance Commissioner’s PBM oversight role established in the 2022 legislation.

  • ABI Position: Monitor

On Thursday, ABI public policy staff spoke against HSB 640 which resurrected some of the costly concepts that were set aside in 2022. ABI policy staff expects more work on PBM issues throughout the 2024 session and will represent ABI members as the sponsors of health care plans for their employees in those discussions.

  • ABI Position: Oppose

SF 2201 - State Response to Proposed OSHA Walk-Around Rule

ABI and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) have been tracking the development of an OSHA rule that would place non-employee third parties in OSHA safety inspection teams with the intent of introducing organized labor representatives into non-union workplaces.

This issue started and stopped at the end of the Obama Administration and is back once more. ABI believes the rule is baseless in federal law and will be challenged.

A think tank has suggested that Iowa could reject such a federal requirement by insisting it had a protocol used by Iowa OSHA that is just “as effective as” the objectionable federal rule and advise that it would hold up to legal challenge. Maybe so, maybe not.

ABI public policy staff has expressed concern that the first reaction of the federal government may not be a lawsuit, but instead the Department of Labor could seek to revoke all or parts of the Iowa OSHA plan and replace it with federal oversight.

The proposed OSHA walk-around rule cannot stand, but Iowa’s limited autonomy of Iowa OSHA must be preserved. The legislation has moved out of the Senate Workforce Committee.

  • ABI Position: Monitor

HF 2036 - Chamber Bucks

In late December, ABI staff was alerted to an issue some of our Eastern Iowa Chambers of Commerce were having with a form of fundraising they have been conducting to further their mission.

To increase member to member commerce, “chamber bucks” were sold that could be used with local companies. Problems arose when unredeemed chamber bucks could not be credited back to the local chamber due to Iowa law. Several thousand dollars will go into chamber programming should the legislation become law.

  • ABI Position: Support

SF 319 - Drug and Alcohol Testing Reform

On Tuesday, a House Labor and Workforce Subcommittee advanced a key ABI priority bill to the full committee. The legislation makes long overdue changes to Iowa’s drug and alcohol testing statute.

Under current law, an employer who is sued by an employee must prove their innocence of the charge. The legislation flips the burden of proof to the employee so the employer would remain innocent until proven guilty, which is proper jurisprudence.

The bill also modernizes communication methods for exchanging drug and alcohol testing results. Certified mail, return receipt requested is mandated in law, but under the bill, the employer would be allowed to offer in-person exchange, electronic exchange or the current certified mail, return receipt requested method to the employee.

The bill also tightens up the definition of “safety sensitive position”, which is meant to eliminate subjectivity in interpretation.

ABI staff will be working to move this bill through the full committee next week.

  • ABI Position: Support

SF 574 - IEDA’s MEGA Bill

On Wednesday, a House Ways & Means Subcommittee approved legislation that was brought forward by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).

The bill creates the major economic growth attraction (MEGA) program, which gives IEDA additional incentives and tools necessary to attract a once in a generation type of investment from industry. An eligible business must invest at least one billion dollars, pay significant wages and benefits and be primarily engaged in advanced manufacturing, biosciences or research and development.

An amendment was offered to assuage concerns some legislators had last year related to foreign adversaries purchasing large swaths of Iowa land.

It now goes to the full committee.

  • ABI Position: Support

SF 2154 - Building Design Regulations

ABI is supportive of policy solutions that will mitigate the costs of housing and help facilitate the creation of more of that infrastructure.

On Wednesday, the Senate Local Government Committee approved legislation that would set statewide standards for building design regulations by pre-empting cities and counties from having their own policies.

The goal is to create certainty for homebuilders and eliminate unnecessary costs in housing.

It now goes to the Senate floor.

  • ABI Position: Support

HSB 619 / SSB 3040 - Housing Styles and Materials Regulation

Another bill that’s aimed at addressing the cost of affordable housing was approved by a House subcommittee on Wednesday. The bill, which has a similar concept to SF 2154, prohibits cities and counties from limiting the style of exterior cladding or finishing materials for residential buildings in a manner that would be more restrictive than the state building code.

The companion bill in the Senate has also moved out of subcommittee.

  • ABI Position: Support

SSB 3094 - Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG)

A very hot topic over the last few years across the country has been ESG. On Tuesday, a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee advanced a bill that would prohibit financial institutions from discriminating against individuals in financial lending through the use of social credit scoring.

A social credit score, as defined in the bill, could include a person’s protected speech, religious exercise, targets or disclosures related to greenhouse gas emissions, etc. It would also allow the Attorney General to bring a civil action forward to enforce the bill.

Opponents of the bill noted financial discrimination is already illegal, the bill interferes with the free market and there could be frivolous lawsuits brought forward.

The bill advanced out of subcommittee, but has a tough haul moving forward.

Read more here.

  • ABI Position: Against