The following bills were passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor.
SF 1 – Administrative rules for jobs impact statements
SF 230 – Legislative Branch health insurance premiums
SF 331 – Filing requirements for energy efficiency reports
SF 355 – Municipal utilities, regulations regarding service disconnection, discontinuation
SF 404 – Experimental treatments
SF 408 – Architect licensure
SF 409 – Credit Union omnibus
SF 431 – Siting of small wireless facilities
SF 502 – Consumer Credit Code update
SF 503 – Deferral of unpaid installments on certain consumer credit loans
HF 215 – Insurance benefits for autism treatment
HF 303 – IID update to pre-need funeral, cemetery receivership requirements
HF 309 – IID insurance certificates
HF 311 – IID technical updates
HF 445 – IUB omnibus
HF 518 – Workers’ Compensation
HF 586 – IFA rent subsidy program; filing requirement modification; mechanics’ liens
HF 621 – EDA technical update
HF 626 – IID long-term-care insurance filing fee elimination
SF 1 requires that every proposed rule under a notice of intended action or publication without notice contain a jobs impact statement outlining the purpose and statutory authority of the rule, and analyzes and describes the impact on state agencies, local governments, the public and regulated entities, including businesses and self-employed individuals. The statement must indicate if a proposed rule would have a positive or negative impact on private sector jobs and employment opportunities. Before proposing a rule, an agency must minimize any adverse impact on jobs and developing new employment opportunities, and must accept comments from stakeholders prior to the final jobs impact statement. The administrative rules coordinator may waive the jobs impact statement for emergency rules.
SF 230 concerns state health insurance plans for legislators and full-time legislative employees. Those enrolled in a state group insurance plan for state employees follow the enrollment rules for the largest number of non-contract full-time state employees of the Executive Branch (other than employees of the State Board of Regents) and must pay a portion of the premium on the same basis. The bill strikes language relating to premium rates in Code section 2.40(1)(a)(4). The bill is effective upon enactment.
SF 331 streamlines federal and state energy efficiency reporting by giving electric cooperatives the option of filing their mandatory annual federal report (Form EIA-861) with the Iowa Utilities Board to fulfill state energy efficiency reporting requirements. This eliminates duplication and reduces regulatory costs. The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives estimates a collective savings of $75,000 to $100,000 annually for cooperatives statewide. Electric cooperatives still must offer energy efficiency programs to member-owners, and data and information about energy efficiency programs must be reported.
[3/9: 48-0 (Anderson, Bertrand excused)]
SF 355 adds “disconnection of service” to Code section 384.84(3), which relates to discontinuing services by municipally owned utilities. Currently, a municipally owned utility is not regulated by the Iowa Utilities Board except in specified instances, including disconnection of service. Board authority to establish rules relating to deposits, which may be required by a utility for the initiation or reinstatement of service, would not apply to municipal utilities. Current Code section 476.20(5) requires the board to establish uniform rules for public utilities with respect to deposits required for the initiation or reinstatement of service. This would not apply to municipal utilities, which are governed by Code section 384.84, and municipal utilities are not subject to the board’s rules regarding deposits and payment plans for delinquent amounts owed and repayment of past-due debt. A city utility may require a deposit not exceeding the usual cost of 60 days of gas and electric service.
[3/9: 48-0 (Anderson, Bertrand excused)]
SF 404 relates to the use of experimental treatments for terminally-ill patients, known as “Right to Try.” It allows manufacturers of investigational drugs, biological products or devices to make available, and eligible patients with terminal illnesses to attempt treatment with, an investigational drug, biological product or device, as long as they provide written informed consent. An eligible patient’s physician must acknowledge that the patient’s illness is terminal and recommend the patient try an investigational drug, biological product or device. The patient’s written informed consent must acknowledge that treatments currently approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration are unlikely to prolong the patient’s life; the specific treatment sought and the potential best, worst and expected results from the treatment; that the patient’s insurance is not required to pay for the treatment and that hospice service may refuse to accept the patient after receiving the treatment; and that expenses will be credited to the patient, including the patient’s estate, unless otherwise stated in an agreement with the manufacturer. If the patient dies during treatment, the patient’s heirs are not liable for any remaining debts unless otherwise required by law.
The manufacturer may charge an eligible patient or provide the treatment free of charge. Governmental entities are not required to pay costs associated with the use, care or treatment of a patient with an investigational drug, biological product or device. The bill does not require hospitals licensed under Code chapter 135B or other health care facilities to provide new or additional services. Consistent with existing law, the Board of Medicine cannot take an adverse action against a physician’s license solely for recommending an investigational drug, biological product or device for the physician’s eligible patient. The bill does not create a new private cause of action against for harm done to the patient if they comply in good faith with the law and exercise reasonable care. The new law does not allow a treating physician to assist the patient in committing or attempting to commit suicide.
[4/17: Concur, 49-0 (McCoy excused)]
SF 408 requires licensure rather than registration of architects practicing in Iowa and makes conforming changes to Code sections that reference registration as an architect. The term “licensure” is used when a professional’s actions are regulated by a Practice Act, and the credentials are more rigorous (i.e., those involving education, training and examination). “Registration” refers to a state roster that may include regulation by a Title Act, which does not apply in Iowa. The Iowa Chapter of the American Institute of Architects requested the legislation to better reflect the occupational regulation based on public health, safety and welfare. In Iowa, engineers and landscape engineers are licensed rather than certified, and all states bordering Iowa (except Wisconsin) require architect licensure.
[3/28: 49-0 (Rozenboom excused)]
SF 409 is a recommendation by the Iowa Credit Union Division in the Iowa Department of Commerce. It makes technical changes and conforms the statute to current Division practice.
It adds language to Code section 533.113 regarding exam confidentiality to codify what has been noted on each examination report for many years. These additions, along with penalty provision, will make the language printed on the examination report enforceable. In addition, the Division has formalized a process for authorizing delivery of examination reports to third parties, such as auditors, the Federal Home Loan Bank and potential merger partners, via the completion of a confidentiality agreement by all parties.
Previously, the board of directors had to meet after receiving the report of examination and whenever the superintendent deemed it necessary and advisable. Recognizing there may be circumstances where the superintendent finds it necessary to call a meeting not directly related to an examination, the Division’s Assistant Attorney General advised moving this provision to a section calling for a meeting of the board. Subsections 4 and 7 from section 533.113 are combined, placed in new section 533.113A, and deleted from section 533.113.
[3/9: 48-0 (Anderson, Bertrand excused)]
SF 431 relates to siting small wireless communication facilities and expands current law (Code chapter 8C) that provides a series of uniform rules and limitations for the deployment of and applications for wireless communications facilities and infrastructure. Wireless companies want to deploy services to their customers that may include access to rights-of-way, public facilities, traffic signals and utility poles. The proposal adds specific rules and limitations for the application and deployment of small wireless facilities (SWF). It prohibits an authority, such as a city, from restricting the siting of small wireless facilities. An authority with planning and zoning regulations must authorize such facilities in zoning districts where the facilities are located on public rights-of-way or authority property, or where the facilities are sited on certain existing structures. Facilities not sited on such property or in such a manner may be classified as special or conditional uses. An authority may also require a person to obtain a special or conditional land use permit to install new utility poles or wireless support structures on certain property. An authority may require a person to obtain building, electrical or public way use permits for the siting if it is of general applicability and does not deny a facility access to a public right-of-way. However, an authority cannot require a person to obtain a permit for the routine maintenance or replacement of a previously approved facility unless it contains the same terms and conditions provided for other commercial projects or uses in the public right-of-way.
A House amendment:
- Limits use of traffic signal poles for SWFs to the vertical portion, not any horizontal cable or arm.
- Gives local governing authority over placement of new poles in right-of-way.
- Limits the size of micro wireless facilities to a very small size (12” x 15” x 24”). They are self-contained, requiring no equipment, electric source or meter.
- Allows placement of a micro wireless facility on operator-owned overhead lines, as long as it complies with national safety codes, without a permit or fee.
- Preserves pre-existing ordinances requiring a permit for micro wireless facilities.
- Allows an authority to require a right-of-way use permit if the work to install or maintain the micro wireless facility requires closure of a highway lane or otherwise disturbs a highway.
- Details a process for modification or relocation of an SWF due to road widening or other authority projects.
- Extends time for the authority to act on permit from 60 days to 90 days.
- Clarifies that authority can obtain additional time to process a large volume of applications by providing notice rather than a request.
- Adds more details to the process for determining that a proposed SWF would compromise the safety of a structure.
- Limits the duration of a permit for SWF on an authority structure outside of the right-of-way to 10 years with a five-year renewal.
- Eliminates the flat $100 per year option (one of three) for establishing the annual rate for placement on an authority structure.
- Provides additional flexibility for an authority to remove SWFs in an emergency.
[4/18: Concur, 50-0]
SF 502 is an agreement among the Iowa Attorney General, Iowa Bankers Association and Iowa Credit Union League to modernize the Iowa Consumer Credit Code. Many fees for creditors and remedy awards for debtors have not been adjusted since the Code was created in 1974. The legislation:
- Allows the Attorney General greater latitude to declare supervised loans void when made by parties who do not have proper authorization to make them.
- Provides for a credit reporting charge, a $30 charge for returned checks and over-limit violations on credit cards.
- Increases the allowable late-payment charge cap from $15 to $30 on all consumer credit and changes the rebate rules for deposit-taking lenders, which will make it easier to provide smaller consumer loans.
- Raises the remedy award for a consumer’s private right of action for violations of the consumer credit code along with violations of disclosure provisions from a minimum of $100 to $200 and from a maximum of $1,000 to $2,000. It also raises the civil remedy for the Attorney General to bring an action against a creditor from no more than $5,000 to no more than $10,000.
- Raises the annual notification fee for credit sellers and debt collectors from $10 to $50, and increases the allowable charge for late filing by these credit sellers and debt collectors from $20 to $75.
[4/12: 49-0 (Bertrand excused)]
SF 503 clarifies the Iowa Consumer Credit Code related to deferred payment on a closed-end, simple interest loan. Currently, the parties to a pre-computed consumer credit transaction may agree in writing to a partial or full deferral of any unpaid installments and the creditor may receive a deferral charge. The bill adds deferrals with respect to interest-bearing consumer credit transactions that are not pursuant to open-end credit arrangements, and other than consumer lease or consumer rental purchase agreements. The parties may agree in writing to a partial or full deferral of any unpaid installments in addition to any interest accrued, pursuant to the terms of the transaction. The creditor may receive a deferral charge not to exceed $30 (this mirrors the fee language in SF 502).
[4/12: 49-0 (Bertrand excused]
HF 215 creates Code section 514C.31, requiring state-regulated health insurance policies, contracts and plans for large employers (more than 50 employees) and those covering public employees other than state employees (Code chapter 509A) to provide coverage benefits for applied behavior analysis to treat autism spectrum disorders in children. This does not include individual health insurance plans or small employer group plans. Treatment must be provided by a board-certified behavior analyst or licensed physician or psychologist. The required maximum benefit for coverage is $36,000 per year through age six; $25,000 per year from seven to 13; and $12,500 per year from 14 to 18. Required coverage can be subject to preauthorization, prior approval or other care management requirements, including limits on number of visits. Required coverage can be subject to dollar limits, deductibles, copayments, coinsurance provisions or any limitations that apply to other covered medical or surgical services.
This new Code section does not limit benefits otherwise available to an individual under a group policy, contract or plan, and does not affect any obligation to provide services to an individual under an individualized family service plan, education program or service plan. A carrier, organized delivery system or plan may request to review a treatment plan not more than once every three months during the first year of the treatment plan and not more than once every six months every year thereafter, unless the insurer and the treating physician or psychologist agree that more frequent review is necessary. The cost of the review is paid by the insurer. The provisions of a treatment plan cannot be changed until the completion of a review.
The new Code section applies to third-party provider payment contracts, policies or plans specified in the bill, or plans established for state and other public employees in Iowa on or after January 1, 2018. Those eligible for coverage are not eligible to participate in the state autism support program (Code sections 225D.1, 225D.2) effective January 1, 2018.
[3/23: 48-0 (Shipley, Zaun excused)]
HF 303 is a recommendation by the Iowa Insurance Division (IID). It allows the Insurance Commissioner to notify the Iowa Attorney General of a potential need for a receivership for both a pre-need seller of cemetery and funeral merchandise or funeral services and for a cemetery itself. This eliminates the red tape of meeting a list of requirements in those situations where the pre-need seller or cemetery has consented to a receivership, and allows the Commissioner to move more quickly to protect the remaining funds held by either the pre-need seller or cemetery.
[3/13: 49-0 (Bertrand excused)]
HF 309 codifies current practice that prohibits a person from preparing, issuing, requesting or requiring a “certificate of insurance” that contains false or misleading information about the policy or purports to amend, extend or alter the policy’s coverage. A “certificate of insurance” is evidence of property and causality insurance coverage. A certificate does not include a policy, insurance binder, policy endorsement or automobile insurance identification or information card.
A certificate does not warrant that the insurance policy complies with the insurance or indemnification requirements of a contract, and the inclusion of a contract number or description in a certificate cannot be interpreted as warranting compliance. A person is entitled to notice of cancellation, non-renewal or material changes in an insurance policy if they have such rights under the terms of the policy. A certificate does alter those rights.
The Iowa Insurance Commissioner may examine and investigate anyone they believe violates the law. Enforcement may include cease and desist orders and a $500 penalty per violation. The Commissioner may adopt rules to administer the law, which takes effect upon enactment and applies to certificates of insurance prepared, issued, requested or required beginning 90 days after that date.
HF 311 is an Iowa Insurance Division (IID) recommendation that makes technical updates based on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) models, including conforming language with federal regulations. NAIC is the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization. The IID proposal was widely circulated to interested parties and stakeholders for review and comment.
[3/8: 49-0 (Chelgren excused)]
HF 445 is a recommendation by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB). Rate-regulated utilities have collected different rates on a temporary basis, subject to refund, while a rate review is pending. There were two options under which this occurred. The utility could ask the Board to approve temporary rates based regulatory principles, and the Board would rule on that request within 90 days. If the final rates include rate design changes that result in over-collection from some customer classes and under-collection from others, the utility was not typically required to make refunds on a class-by-class basis.
The second option allowed the utility to implement temporary rates without Board review or approval within 10 days after the rate case is filed. If the Board later determined that the temporary rates were not based on established regulatory principles, the Board would consider requiring refunds based on overpayment made by each individual customer class, rate zone or customer group.
In recent rate cases, the utilities tended to use the second option, which allowed the utility to begin collecting temporary rates sooner, and allowed the Board and the other parties to avoid devoting resources to temporary rate issues, while retaining the right to review the rates at a later date. The law strikes first option (allowing utilities to implement Board-approved temporary rates within 90 days of filing), leaving automatic implementation of temporary rates 10 days after filing as the only option.
The law adds an exception to Code Chapter 22 that would apply to the IUB and the Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HSEMD). It would cover the confidentiality of certain information and records relating to cybersecurity or critical infrastructure, the disclosure of which could expose or create vulnerability to critical systems for safeguarding telecommunications, electric, water, sanitary sewage, storm water drainage, energy, hazardous liquid, natural gas systems or other critical infrastructure. It also strikes a requirement that HSEMD provide a list of critical assets used in the critical asset protection plan.
Iowa Code requires a board member, board counsel, or a hearing examiner designated by the board to serve as the presiding officer at each informational meeting on an electric transmission franchise petition. This replaces the undefined term “hearing examiner.”
[3/21: 49-0 (Shipley excused)]
HF 518 makes sweeping changes to Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation law. The new law:
- Cuts benefits to Iowa workers who get injured on the job:
- It reduces benefits for workers who suffer a shoulder injury. Previous law treated shoulder injuries as an injury to the body as a whole. The law now treats shoulder injuries as a scheduled member injury. A workers’ loss of earning capacity would no longer be taken into account when calculating benefits for a shoulder injury. Shoulder injury compensation would be for 400 weeks.
- If the shoulder injury results in permanent partial disability and the employee cannot return to gainful employment, the employee can be evaluated by Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) to see if they would benefit from new career vocational training and education programs offered through an area community college. The employer would be responsible for up to $15,000 in tuition and fees that will result in (at the minimum) an associate’s degree or completion of certificate program.
- There are a lot of requirements on the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner for evaluating and monitoring this new vocational rehabilitation section. This education funding does not address employees who would need adult basic education. The law eliminates benefits based on an employee’s loss of earning power because of an injury if the employer returns the employee to work for a short time, but then terminates the employee, leaving the employee with no compensation for lost access to other employment because of the injury.
- Reduces an employer’s liability to provide benefits to injured workers:
- It makes a positive drug or alcohol test grounds for an employer to deny benefits for an injury without regard to whether drugs or alcohol caused the injury. The worker must prove the injury was not caused by drugs or alcohol.
- It changes the point at which an employee must report an injury or lose the right to claim benefits for an injury. It defines the “date of the occurrence of the injury” to mean the date that the employee knew or should have known the injury was work related. It does not take into account whether the worker discovers the seriousness of the injury during the time limitation enforced by the law.
- It forces injured workers to move and work at the company headquarters for light duty or be terminated. An injured worker who is offered work by the employer while recovering from an injury must decline the offer in writing if the employee believes the work is not suitable, or lose the right to continue receiving benefits while recovering.
- It changes an employer’s liability for compensating an employee’s preexisting disability that arose because of prior employment-related injury with the employer to the extent the injury has already been compensated. Previously, employers were considered fully responsible for a workers’ injury, regardless of previous injuries. The law eliminates the ability of injured workers to seek payment of future weekly benefits owed in a lump sum without the agreement of the employer and its insurance carrier.
- Encourages employers and insurance carriers to avoid on-time payment of benefits: It allows employers to avoid payment of benefits awarded by the Commissioner while the employer seeks a judicial review of the award, leaving the injured worker without benefits for two to three years; eliminates the current rate of 10 percent interest on late-paid weekly benefits; reduces the interest rate on benefits to the one-year treasury rate plus 2 percent (currently less than 3 percent total). This rewards insurance carriers and employers who do not comply with the law for timely payments.
The law is effective July 1, and applies to injuries on or after that date. The law applies to commutation applications filed on or after that date.
[3/27: 29-21 (party-line, with D. Johnson voting “no” with Democrats)]
HF 586 revises antiquated language concerning bonds and notes that require a copy of each agreement be filed with the Secretary of State to be valid. A pledge made in respect of bonds or notes will be valid and binding from the time the pledge is made; and the resolution, trust agreement or any other instrument by which a pledge is created does not need to be recorded or filed to be valid, binding or effective. It also eliminates a requirement that IFA award grants from the shelter assistance fund on an annual basis. IFA must establish and administer a rent subsidy program to help approved participants under a home and community-based services Medicaid waiver and approve participants in the federal “money follows the person” grant program under the medical assistance program. The law adds “an owner-builder” who contracts to provide labor or furnish material for the property to those who must post a notice on the Mechanics’ Notice and Lien Registry no later than 10 days after work begins.
This language was proposed after IFA, the Iowa Bankers Association, Iowa Credit Union League, Real Estate Section of the Iowa State Bar Association, Iowa Association of Realtors and the Iowa Land Title Association worked to restore the intent of the 2012 mechanics’ lien changes in light of an Iowa Court of Appeals case in 2016. It ruled that because of the grammatical construction of the statute, only general contractors who use subcontractors must post a notice with the Secretary of State as a prerequisite to filing a mechanics’ lien on residential property.
This new law allows a general contractor to post a notice with the Secretary of State within 10 days of beginning work regardless of whether they use subcontractors so that real estate professionals can see if money is owed the contractor before closing. This is a prerequisite to filing a lien, and restores the intent of the 2012 legislation. It ensures contractors and subcontractors receive payment prior to closing a loan and clear title is preserved for the new homeowner.
[3/30: 46-0 (Anderson, Bertrand, D. Johnson, Kapucian excused)]
HF 621 makes technical changes to eligibility for financial assistance from the sports tourism program; transfers responsibility for certifying targeted small businesses (and associated reporting requirements) from the Department of Inspections & Appeals to the Economic Development Authority (EDA), and allows EDA to establish standards for public access to information under the program.
HF 626 eliminates a $25 filing fee for independent review of a benefit trigger determination under a long-term-care insurance policy. Previously, the Insurance Commissioner could waive this fee, which became the practice 100 percent of the time for the past five years. The IID routinely helps Iowans with insurance issues without charging a fee, and removing the provision eliminates confusion.
[4/11: 49-0 (Allen excused]