From the Capitol with Steve Firman - March 21, 2023

posted on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 in Government Affairs

Grow Cedar Valley

March 21, 2023

The number one legislative policy priority for Grow Cedar Valley is talent attraction, recruitment and retention.  We have been closely watching proposed legislation that deals with issues and ideas that could potentially help in attracting and retaining workforce.  The main areas we have been tracking are childcare, housing, placemaking, and workforce readiness.  Here are a few of the specific bills:

• Child Care

• HF 47 – income tax exemption for childcare providers

• HF 343 – auto eligibility for the Child Care Assistance Program for childcare workers

• Housing:

• HF 506 – increase in the Workforce Housing Tax incentive

• SF 182 – creation of land banks (land redevelopment trusts)

• Placemaking

• HF 412 – self supported entertainment areas

• Workforce Readiness:

• SF 318 – creation of an apprenticeship agency

• HF 447– Workforce Development grant and incentive program legislation

• SF 249 – provides additional supports for loan repayment programs in rural primary care

• HF 151 – creation of a mental health practitioner loan repayment program


We are a little more than a month away from the projected end of the 2023 session, so a brief recap seems to be in order.  A great deal of time and attention has been focused on passing legislation that focused on Governor Reynolds priorities.  These include school choice/educational savings accounts; tort reform establishing limits on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases; an extensive reorganization of state government; and property tax reform and specifically the correction of an error in how property tax rates are calculated.


We have also been monitoring issues related to economic development and IEDA.  The MEGA program, or the Major Economic Growth Attraction program, will provide a new level of incentives from the state to companies committing to investing a minimum of $1 billion in our state.  The are a number of other requirements that must be met, but the hope is that offering such a package may attract a rare development opportunity to Iowa. 


A second issue that we have been following is one that would prohibit Iowa's public funds, including its pension programs, from contracting with investment firms that factor in social issues when managing a portfolio — a practice sometimes known as environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing.  Instead, it would mandate that funds must be invested based solely on what will earn the most money.


Finally, GCV became directly involved in opposing HF 616, a bill that would prohibit Iowa Public Universities including UNI, from using state money to fund Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offices, positions, and programs.  While the bill survived the first funnel, on March 14th, Board of Regents President Michael Richards directed that a comprehensive study and review of all Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs and efforts would be done at the three universities and that they pause the implementation of any new DEI programs until the study is completed.  This action by the Regents appears to have slowed potential legislative action related to the DEI issue.


Going forward, the Legislature is nearing its second funnel deadline which is March 31.  The projected end date for this year’s session is April 28.  Now that the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) has made its projection for expected state revenues and the government realignment with its budgetary considerations is in place, work on the state budget will take center stage after the second funnel.