In the Legislature
This week we did a mix of floor debate and committee work. This was the second funnel week of the legislative session. Much like the first funnel, we need to get bills out of committee for them to be considered for the rest of this session. This deadline moves the process along and helps us adjourn on time. After this week, our work will focus on debating House bills, bills sent back to us from the House and budget bills.
We passed a few bills on the floor this week. Here's our week:
State Senator Jeff Edler
On Monday, we debated and passed SF 399, SF 419, HF 295, and HF 518.
On Tuesday, we passed SF 360, SF 408, SF 446, and SF 493.
We passed SR 14, HF 593, and HF 464 on Wednesday.
On Thursday, we passed HF 586.
This week the Senate passed SF 360 unanimously, expanding Iowa's Safe Haven law. The Safe Haven Act is a law that allows parents - or another person who has the parent's authorization - to leave an infant up to 14 days old at a "safe haven" without fear of prosecution for abandonment. All states have safe haven laws, although provisions differ. In Iowa, a safe haven is currently defined as a facility providing medical or health services that is open twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week and is a hospital emergency room, a residential care facility, a nursing facility, or an intermediate care facility for persons with mental illness.
Updating Iowa's Asset Forfeiture Laws
The Iowa Senate approved legislation this week protecting the constitutional rights of Iowans by giving them due process as it pertains to their personal property.
Senate File 446 enhances property rights protections by shifting the burden of proof on law enforcement and prosecutors when it comes to civil asset forfeitures. Under current law, when someone is suspected of committing an aggravated misdemeanor or felony, civil asset forfeiture may occur even if the charged individual is not convicted of the alleged crime.
Certainty, Predictability and Consistency for Job Creators
Known as the pre-emption bill, HF 295 reestablishes legal certainty and uniformity across the State of Iowa. There is nothing in the bill that forces an employer to stay at the minimum wage. It only evens the playing field and reinstates consistency across the state. As stated at the beginning of this session, we continue to focus on economic growth for our state and rural communities. We cannot grow if arbitrary regulations are scattered all over different jurisdictions to create a hodgepodge, patchwork framework to conduct business. Iowa will grow with consistent regulations and creating a positive job climate and trained workforce for the future.
Senate Passes Workers' Compensation Reform
During the first week of this session of the Iowa Legislature, Senate Republicans charted a course to implement policies that increase economic growth in Iowa. On Monday, the Iowa Senate passed workers' compensation reform. This reform legislation is a vital component to that agenda of promoting job growth in Iowa.
It is so important to job creators that a coalition of 250 businesses came together to promote this legislation, which would undo many costly and anti-competitive decisions implemented by bureaucrats and judges. These costly decisions drove up the cost of hiring in this state and made our job creators less competitive. Ten years ago Iowa had the 5th lowest workers' compensation premiums in the country. Today, Iowa's rating has fallen to the 24th highest cost for those premiums.
This bill makes a number of common sense changes to the workers' compensation laws in Iowa. For example, if employees are injured in another state, they are no longer allowed to receive benefits in Iowa. Double dipping is prohibited in different ways, including prohibiting individuals from collecting unemployment benefits while also receiving permanent total disability benefits. It also prohibits individuals from receiving both partial and total workers' compensation benefits so the total of the benefits exceeds 100%.
I was contacted by several job creators in our district that indicated this was a top priority for them. It helps lower their cost, while also protecting benefits for those injured on the job. Many hours of work went into this bill both before and during debate in an attempt to create the best policy possible. I believe this legislation is a key component to improving the climate for job creators in this state.