Week 3 of the Legislative Session is Complete

January 26, 2024

There were well over 150 subcommittee meetings at the Capitol this week as policy makers began ramping up the legislative process. With just three weeks until the first funnel deadline, legislators are working hard to move their priorities forward.

In order to advance a bill past the first funnel, it must be approved by a standing committee. There are exceptions to this rule for Ways & Means, Appropriations and a few other types of bills. ABI’s public policy team continues to track dozens of bills.

Below is a recap of some of the key issues we followed this week.

SF 2106 - Unemployment Codification

On Wednesday, the Senate Workforce Committee convened and approved legislation that would codify into law two administrative practices Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) utilizes. It would require claimants to perform four work searches each week and then requires IWD to verify a claimant’s identity through an online portal, which is meant to reduce fraud.

Now that the bill has passed through the committee level, it’s funnel proof.

  • ABI Position: Monitor

HSB 555 - Iowa Utilities Board Update Bill

Occasionally the Iowa Utilities Board will come forward with an update bill, making changes to their authorizing statute, modernizing terms and adding language to recognize the changing industries they regulate. The bill would do the following:

  • Incorporate battery storage and nuclear energy as alternative energy sources, qualifying them for regulatory consideration under those portions of the Iowa Code
  • Update financial thresholds for required reports and updates terms used in the cable television franchising

The bill has advanced to the full House Commerce Committee.

  • ABI Position: Monitor

SF 108 - Mandatory E-verify Use in Hiring

A perennial issue for some lawmakers, mandatory E-Verify would require employers to check with the federal E-Verify database to confirm new hires were authorized to be in the United States. Employers could face the temporary, then permanent loss of their state issued licenses for failure to comply with the law on first and second offenses.

ABI testified against the bill, arguing that the current immigration situation is a failure of government and that criminalizing employers is not the correct government response. 

The bill moved to the full Senate Judiciary Committee with the understanding that the bill needs to be amended before advancing further.

Read more here.

  • ABI Position: Against

SF 2026 - Whistleblower Legislation

A Senate Workforce Subcommittee met on Tuesday to consider legislation that would prohibit private employers from preventing employees from sharing information with an employee or member of the Iowa General Assembly if there’s a reasonable belief the information shows a law or rule broken, a gross abuse of funds or authority, mismanagement or danger to the public. It also contains additional protections for members of the General Assembly.

ABI attended the meeting and raised some questions and concerns along with others. The bill advanced and will now go to the full committee for consideration.

  • ABI Position: Monitor

SSB 3103 - Anonymous Complaints to DNR

On Thursday, a Senate Natural Resources and Environment Subcommittee met and approved legislation that would require anyone filing a complaint with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) alleging a potential violation of a law or rule enforced by DNR would have to include their name on the complaint. The legislation is intended to mitigate frivolous complaints being filed.

The bill now goes to the full committee.

  • ABI Position: Monitor

SSB 3040 - Building Code Pre-emption

A Senate Local Government Subcommittee moved a bill on Thursday that would preempt cities and counties from adopting an ordinance, motion or building code that would prohibit or limit the use of specific styles of siding or finishing materials for residential buildings that exceed the state building code.

This legislation falls in line with ABI’s policy of supporting solutions that will facilitate the creation of more housing and help to mitigate unnecessary costs.

  • ABI Position: Support

SSB 3003 / HSB 558 - Cell Siting Act Repeal Extension

Bills are moving in both chambers that would extend the sunset of uniform local rules for the siting of cell technologies. Several ABI members are in the business of providing cell service in Iowa. ABI member customers of these providers benefit from the technological advancements these newly installed cell services provide.

  • ABI Position: Support

SF 2109 / HSB 612 - Teen Driving Privileges

Over time, the legislature has considered several bills that have lowered the legal age and circumstances for operating a motor vehicle. Most recently, the youth employment bill passed in 2023, contemplated changes to allow teen licenses for young employees. Rather than add yet another special circumstance for teen driving, a study group was formed to make recommendations to the legislature.

The Senate Workforce Committee has passed their version this week and the House has assigned the bill to a subcommittee that has yet to meet.

  • ABI Position: Monitor

SF 431 - Health Care Costs

Senator Mike Bousselot, who in an earlier capacity was a healthcare advisor to the Governor, introduced this legislation aimed at encouraging individuals to price shop for medical care.

In concept, if a healthcare provider wished to offer a cash price for a service that was lower than the price an insurer reimbursed for the same services, the individual could keep half of the savings and the health plan would get the remainder of the savings.

ABI attended the subcommittee hearing, testifying that we are pleased that the legislature is looking for savings in healthcare rather than policies that can increase costs. Further, ABI approved of the approach in the bill that covered the entire spectrum of healthcare providers rather than isolating individual aspects such as pharmacy benefits.

The subcommittee was intrigued by the approach yet properly skeptical that the legislation could be adopted for Iowa. Work may continue on the bill as it advances to the full Health and Human Services Committee.

  • ABI Position: Monitor