Iowa Chamber Alliance Update: March

posted on Wednesday, March 4, 2020 in Government Affairs

Steve Firman, Director of Government Affairs Information provided by Director of Government Affairs, Steve Firman

What Grow Cedar Valley is following:

The two main pieces of legislation Grow Cedar Valley are monitoring are highlighted below.  There are other bills that we are watching as well, but Future Ready Iowa and the Invest in Iowa Act are a couple of our priorities at this point. In addition, the openings on the Iowa Workforce Development Board are also highlighted.

Workforce Development Board: the openings on this Board give Cedar Valley businesses an opportunity to serve in a meaningful way as the state continues to struggle to recruit and retaining talent.

Future Ready Iowa: key components include providing financial assistance to apprenticeship sponsors, creating a matching grant program for organizations building or rebuilding a child care facility, and other provisions.

Invest in Iowa Act: this is the Governor’s top priority.  It would involve raising the state’s sales tax by one cent, creating funds that would be used to lower income taxes and property taxes, make childcare more affordable and available, address water quality as well as conservation and recreation needs in the state and finally, create a stable long-term funding source for mental health care in Iowa.

3.2.2020 Iowa Chamber Alliance Newsletter

Workforce Development Board

The Iowa Workforce Development Board has 13 vacancies to be filled. The Workforce Development Board is responsible for developing and implementing a 20-year workforce development plan, creating guiltiness for awarding grants, the reviewing of grants awarded, and the recommendation of departmental usage of federal funding. Board members serve four-year terms and are appointed by the Governor and then approved by the Senate.

Future Ready Iowa (SF 2313, HF 2384)

 During the 2020 Condition of the State Governor Reynolds proposed her plan for Future Ready Iowa, which is also a priority for the Iowa Chamber Alliance including impacts on the provision of child care. The legislation was introduced in the third week of session and subcommittees have been held in both chambers. HF 2384 passed out of the House Commerce Committee on February 12th and SF 2313 passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee on February 18th. SF 2313 and HF 2384 were each referred to the respective Appropriations Committees. SF 2313 is scheduled to have a subcommittee meeting on 3/3/2020. The bill includes multiple provisions including:

  • Apprenticeship Training Program:

    • Provides financial assistance to apprenticeship sponsors with 20 or fewer apprentices to maintain programs in high-demand occupations.
    • Reimbursable grants of $1,000, grants, but should not exceed $20,000 annually.
  • Iowa Child Care Challenge Fund:

    • Creates an Iowa Child Care Challenge Program under the Department of Workforce Development
    • Creates a matching grant for organizations building or rebuilding a child care facility
    • Organizations seeking grants must submit an application, proposal, financial plan, and sustainability plan.
  • Workforce Diploma Pilot Program:

    • Creates a workforce diploma pilot program that qualifies eligible institutions to assist students who are beyond school age to obtain a high school diploma
  • Future Ready Iowa Skilled Workforce Last-Dollar Scholarship:

    • Expands the eligible students to include individuals enroll full time in a regular semester or part-time for a summer semester before becoming an adult learner, as well as included adult learners who are at least age 20 at the beginning of the state fiscal year.
  • Senior Year Plus Program and Postsecondary Enrollment Options:

    •  Eliminates previous provisions regarding  part-time enrollment  to allow either part-time or full-time enrollment in courses

Invest in Iowa Act (SSB 3116, HSB 657)

The Governor introduced her Invest in Iowa Act on February 5th. SSB 3116 was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee and assigned a subcommittee. HSB 657 was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and assigned a subcommittee. The Invest in Iowa Act has three major components including taxes, IWILL, and mental health funding. First, the tax component would cut individual income tax by an average of 10% in 2021, lower the highest tax rate by 3% by 2023, repeal the water excise tax, and increase the Early Childhood Development and Child Development care tax credits by doubling the maximum net income for eligibility. Second, the IWILL component commits $99.5 million to water quality efforts, allocate $52.3 million to conservation and recreation, and directors the Iowa Economic Development Authority to oversee projects with a recreational purpose. Third, the mental health funding component reduces property taxes by lowering the per capita country mental health levy from $47.28 to $12.50, resulting in lowering the maximum statewide mental health levy by $77.1 million.

Universal Licensing (SF 2393, HF 2470)

The Governor’s Universal Licensing legislation was introduced early February to help provide certainty in licensing to grow Iowa’s workforce. HF 2470 passed out of the House State Government Committee on February 18th and was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee where it was assigned and passed through the subcommittee on February 27th. SF 2393 passed out of the Senate Labor and Business Relations Committee on February 19th and was referred to the Senate Ways and Means committee and assigned a subcommittee. The bill allows a professional or occupational license, registration or certificate be issued to an individual without examination, individuals may establish residency through multiple means, licensees must be currently licensed in another state and in good standing, and must be licensed in those states for at least one year.

Port Authority (HF 2266)

The House Port Authority legislation was introduced in early February and passed out of subcommittee and the House State Government Committee during the first funnel. The bill helps to delineate liability and creates flexibility to jointly fund projects. Doing this helps to expand Iowa Code Chapter 28J beyond traditional port authority uses for commerce to the ability to utilize this for commerce, quality of life and economic development projects. 

Alternative Project Delivery (SF 2364, HF 2572)

The Senate State Government Committee passed SF 2364 early in the session and has been placed on the Senate debate calendar. The House companion bill, HF 2572 also passed out of subcommittee and the House Local Government Committee and was placed on the House debate calendar the week of the first funnel. The bill includes language advocated by the Master Builders of Iowa for construction manager at risk and a prohibition against the utilization of design-build by Regents Institutions.

It is important to note that this language is different from an approach advocated by the Design Build Institute that did not include a prohibition against other alternative project delivery methods.

Steve Firman, Director of Government Affairs
(319) 239-6067

Grow Cedar Valley Government Affairs