Labor & Business Relations Committee Report – week 13, 2017

SF 32 – Adding hair samples to private sector employee drug testing
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


SF 32 adds hair samples to the testing methods that may be used in private sector drug testing. Current law allows drug testing on samples of urine, saliva, breath and blood. Senate File 32 allows for testing hair samples if testing standards have been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The sets standards for individual privacy and requires a sample be no longer than one and one-half inch. The bill came back from the House with an amendment that stated that employers may conduct hair testing of prospective employees only.
[4/5: 35-15 (Bertrand, Bisignano, Bolkcom, Boulton, Chapman, Danielson, Dotzler, Dvorsky, Horn, Jochum, D. Johnson, McCoy, Petersen, Quirmbach, Taylor “no”)]


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.
[4/4: 47-3 (Dvorsky, Hogg, Taylor “no”)]


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 early 1990s was the last change in penalties. 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.
[4/3: 49-0 (Bertrand excused)]


HF 533 makes changes to the causes for being disqualified for unemployment benefits. Under the bill, an individual is disqualified 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 separated 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.
[4/4: 42-8 (Bisignano, Bolkcom, Dvorsky, Horn, McCoy, Petersen, Quirmbach, Taylor “no”)]


HF 542 increases the amount a person who has drawn unemployment benefits must earn to be eligible in the next benefit year from $250 to eight times the person’s weekly benefit amount. States range from a low of $250 in Iowa to 10 times the person’s weekly benefit amount. Iowa Workforce Development estimates this change will disqualify 395 claims (the claims between $250 and eight times the benefit amount).
[4/4: 29-21 (party-line, D. Johnson voting “no” with Democrats)]


HF 572 makes changes to membership of the state Iowa Workforce Development Board to comply with requirements of the Federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA). 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. Voting members will include: 17 from business, seven from workforce (labor and community-based organizations), four from state agencies, 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.
[4/3: 49-0 (Bertrand excused) ]