Labor & Business Relations Committee Report – week 12, 2017

HF 441 – Laundry occupations
HF 529 – Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) conformity
HF 533 – Disqualification for unemployment benefits
HF 542 – Eligibility for unemployment benefits for second year
HF 572 – WIOA federal conformity changes to State Workforce Board



HF 441 allows 16 and 17 year olds to work in laundering occupations with limitations on washing machine capacity. The washing machine must have a capacity of less than 10 cubic feet and be designed to reach an internal temperature that does not exceed 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
[3/29: short form]


HF 529 conforms with federal law relating to civil penalties for violations of occupation safety health laws. The bill strikes references to specific dollar amounts for civil penalties. Federal law requires an annual adjustment of penalty amounts based on federal consumer price index. The Labor Commissioner must adopt rules annually to adjust to the consumer price index.

The last time there was a change in penalties was the early 1990s. The bill increases penalties for each violation by about 80 percent. Approximately $1 million annually in penalties has been collected and deposited into the state’s General Fund. The estimated fiscal impact of HF 529 is an $800,000 annual increase to the state’s General Fund.
[3/29: short form]


HF 533 makes changes to the causes for being disqualified for unemployment benefits. Under the bill, an individual is disqualified for unemployment benefits if they are incarcerated. HF 533 is in response to a 2016 Supreme Court decision in Irving v. Employment Appeal Board. Since 1975, an Administrative Rule (871-24.25(16)) has deemed incarceration to be voluntarily quitting without good cause and disqualifies a person from unemployment benefits. In brief, the Supreme Court ruled that the Administrative Rule was misinterpreting Iowa Code 96.5 and that incarceration alone does not constitute voluntarily quitting. The bill states that an individual who becomes separate from employment because they are incarcerated is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits, unless all of these conditions are met:

  • The individual notified the employer that they would be absent from work because of  incarceration prior to any such absence.
  • Criminal charges relating to the incarceration were not filed against the individual, all criminal charges against the individual relating to the incarceration were dismissed, or the individual was found not guilty of all criminal charges relating to the incarceration.
  • The individual reported back to the employer within two work days of the individual’s release from incarceration and offered services.
  • The employer rejected the individual’s offer of services.

In addition, if an individual is disqualified for unemployment benefits, they are disqualified regardless of the source of their wage credits. The bill takes effect July 2.
[3/29: short form (Taylor “no”)]


HF 542 increases the amount a person who has drawn unemployment benefits must earn to be eligible for benefits in the next benefit year from $250 to eight times the person’s weekly benefit amount.
[3/29: 7-4 (party-line)]


HF 572 makes changes to the state Iowa Workforce Development Board. Federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires Iowa to make changes to state board membership to comply with federal law. Currently, the board is made of 50 percent business and 50 percent labor.  WIOA requires a majority of the board’s voting membership to be representatives of businesses. In addition, 20 percent of the board’s membership must be representatives of labor and community-based organizations. The bill increases the voting membership from nine to 33 members. Of them, 17 represent business, seven represent the workforce (labor and community-based organizations), four state agency officials, the Governor, one state senator, one state representative, one city elected official and one county elected official. The bill specifies 13 nonvoting members to the state workforce board; makes changes to board duties; and provides for initial board appointments and transition. The changes to the Workforce Board are effective upon enactment.

The bill modifies language from Senate File 2313 in 2016, which authorized Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) to join a consortium with Idaho and Vermont to modify the Idaho unemployment benefit payment software system for use in Iowa. The bill authorized IWD to use $5.9 million in federal funds for that project, but IWD has discovered the system cannot be adapted to Iowa’s needs. IWD is working with the Chief Information Officer and has gone out for a bid for a new software system. The bill strikes the Idaho language and authorizes IWD to use the federal funds for unemployment insurance system modernization.
[3/29: short form]