Labor & Business Committee – Week 8, 2021


SF 484/SSB 1173 – Changes to apprenticeship training

SF 484/SSB 1173 makes changes to Iowa’s Apprenticeship Program found in Iowa Code 15B. The program provides for training grants awarded to apprenticeship sponsors to conduct and maintains an apprenticeship program. Current Code requires the amount for training grants to be based on a formula for “contact hours” and the number of apprentices. The bill changes the formula by just calculating the number of apprentices. Then the bill provides for an overall eligibility requirement of apprenticeship programs regarding contact hours. The bill adds a new definition of contact hours that means “in-person instruction received by an apprentice participating an apprenticeship program.” There must be at least 100 contact hours per apprentice for each training year. The contact hours definition no longer includes online training. The bill applies to applications for financial assistance on or after July 1, 2021.
[2/25: short form (Excused: Dickey)]

SF 485/SSB 1029 – Pregnancy accommodations

SF 485/SSB 1029 requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee based on medical conditions related to employee’s pregnancy or childbirth upon the advice of the employee’s health care provider.

“Reasonable accommodations” include, but are not limited to, provision of accessible worksite acquisition or modification of equipment, job restructuring and a modified work schedule. Reasonable accommodation does not mean any action that would impose an undue hardship on the business of the employer.

As amended in committee, this requirement is under the jurisdiction of the Iowa Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner will adopt rules to implement and enforce the requirement. An employer who violates section 91F.1 is subject to a civil penalty of up to $750.
[2/25: 10-0 (Excused: Dickey)]

SF 490/SSB 1033 – New resident income tax credit

SF 490/SSB 1033 creates a New Resident Tax Credit applied to the state’s individual income tax. As amended in committee, “new resident” refers to an individual who establishes residency in Iowa on or after January 1, 2022, is employed by an employer located in this state, and who has not been a resident of this state at any time during the two tax years prior to establishing residency.

The tax credit is available to the individual for five consecutive years. The credit is based on an increasing sliding scale. For the first tax year, the credit is equal to 20% of the income tax is imposed; for the second year, 40%; for the third year, 60%; for the fourth year, 80%; and for the fifth year, 100%. Except for the first year of residency, a new resident must be a resident of Iowa for the entire tax year for each tax year that the new resident claims the credit. If the individual does not maintain residency for those tax years, they are disqualified from the credit. An individual may establish residency in Iowa only one time in the individual’s lifetime for the purpose of this credit. The bill applies to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2022.
[2/25: short form (No: Dotzler, Jochum, T. Taylor; Excused: Dickey)]

SF 491/SSB 1032 – Remote worker grants

SF 491/SSB 1032 creates a New Remote Worker Grant Program and Fund. The goal of the program and fund is to provide grants to entice Iowa remote workers to relocate to smaller communities in Iowa.

“New remote worker” is defined as an individual who meets all the following requirements: 1) full-time employee, 2) performs the majority of their duties for a business remotely from home office or a coworking space located in Iowa, 3) is a resident of this state.

“Resident” means a natural person who has physically resided in this state as the person’ principal and primary residence or domicile for a period of not less than 90 consecutive days immediately before applying for the remote worker grant and who has been issued an Iowa driver’s license or an Iowa nonoperator’s identification card.

The remote worker is eligible for a grant for qualifying remote expenses in the amount not to exceed $5,000 per calendar year and a maximum of $10,000 total (two years of grants).

“Qualifying remote expenses” include relocation to a community in Iowa with a population of 15,000 or less; computer software and hardware; broadband access or upgrade; and membership in a coworking space or similar space.

A remote worker who gets a grant must remain employed full-time and must remain an Iowa resident for a minimum of one calendar year after receipt of the grant. The grant is based on a first-come, first-served basis. The Iowa Economic Development Authority administers the program.

Iowa Economic Development Authority must submit a report of the Legislature and the Governor on the grant program. The report is due by January 31 each year for the preceding calendar year.

The amount of any grant awarded under the program is deducted from the workers’ net income to the extent included for state income tax purposes.
[2/25: 6-4, party line (Excused: Dickey)]

SF 492/SSB 1172 – Cutting unemployment benefits

SF 492/SSB 1172 makes numerous changes to Iowa’s unemployment insurance system. The main objective of the bill is cutting benefits for unemployed Iowans.

The bill adds new definitions to the Iowa Code for “able to work,” “available for work” and “severance pay.” Currently, the definitions of “able to work” and “available for work” are found in Iowa administrative rules. The definitions in the rules are a little different than the new definitions in the bill.

Reducing Dependent Benefits – The bill changes the calculation of benefits for dependents. Individuals with three or more dependents will see fewer benefits under this bill.

Business Closings Layoffs, Cutting Benefits – Current law allows for a different wage credit calculation and benefit duration for those individuals who have been laid off due to the employer going out of business. This is a different calculation and duration than an unemployment claim. For a typical claim, one-third of the claimant’s wage credits are used to calculate the maximum benefit amount, and the maximum amount of benefits is for 26 weeks. Under the current law for a business closing claim, the individual would receive half of the wage credits and 39 weeks. The bill strikes the different wage calculation and benefit duration for a business closing. These individuals will be treated like other regular claims and will see a reduction in benefits from current law.

One-week waiting period – The bill establishes a one week waiting period, which is the first week of your claim for which you are eligible for unemployment benefits but not paid these benefits. There is one-week waiting period each benefit year. An individual would receive compensation for the waiting week as the last payment on their regular unemployment claim. This is troubling because maximum duration of unemployment benefits for claimants is 26 weeks. Generally, only 25% (pre-COVID) of claimants exhaust their benefits. In 2018, the average duration of benefits was 12.8 weeks. This means a claimant wouldn’t see that lost week of benefits if they went off unemployment before they exhausted their unemployment benefits. Unemployed Iowans are living paycheck to paycheck, they cannot afford to miss out on compensation for that first week.

Lower the wages for what is considered “suitable work” – If Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) finds that an individual failed to accept suitable work when it was offered to them, IWD can disqualify them from unemployment. The Code lays out what is considered “suitable work” (in 96.5(3)). In addition to certain criteria, suitable work means a certain amount of gross weekly wages as a percentage of an individual’s average weekly wage when they were employed. The bill reduces the amount of wages considered suitable, and reduces the number of weeks when these lower wages can be offered and considered suitable.

Other Sections of the bill:

SF 493/SF 69 – Contractor registration and labor brokers

SF 493/SF 69, as amended, expands the definition of contractor to include a labor broker or recruiter who brings one of more workers to a construction job site in Iowa under the Contractor Registration in Iowa Code 91C.1.
[2/25: short form (Excused: Dickey)]

SF 494/SF 350 – Barbering apprenticeship

SF 494/SF 350, as amended in committee, allows barbershops to provide barbering apprenticeship training programs, which are registered by the Office of Apprenticeship of the United States Department of Labor. Any individual that completes the application form prescribed by the Barbering Board and completes the apprenticeship program will be allowed to take the examination for a license to practice barbering. The bill requires that the person supervising the apprentices be a licensed barber with at least three years of experience. A barbershop will provide to the Barbering Board the name of each apprentice in the training program. The bill allows the Board to charge a fee of no more than $20 per apprentices to a barbershop.
[2/25: 6-4, party line (Excused: Dickey)]

SF 495/SSB 1174 – Boxing, MMA, wrestling regulations

SF 495/SSB 1174 relates to the regulation of boxing, mixed martial arts and wrestling under Iowa Code 90A. The Iowa Athletic Commissioner regulates these matches. The Athletic Commissioner is the Iowa Labor Commissioner. The bill changes the definition of “promoter” to add some updates to the type of competitions. The bill clarifies that “promoter” does not include an organizer of a private youth martial arts tournament, private test for martial arts belts, development contests with private gyms, amateur wrestling, Jiu Jitsu or amateur boxing. The bill makes numerous changes to 90A to update the Code from “boxing,” “wrestling,” “mixed martial arts” and “match” to broader terms.

The bill strikes 90A.10, which required that taxes and examination costs charged from a professional boxing event be used for grants to organizations that promote amateur boxing matches in Iowa. The fund only allows moneys in excess of $20,000 to be used for grants. Currently, 90A also allows for the Labor Commissioner to use moneys in the fund for administrative purposes of this chapter. Currently, 90A has a committee that advises the Labor Commissioner on grant awards. The bill strikes the current fund, the boxing grants and the advisory committee. The bill creates a new Athletics Commissioner Revolving Fund under the control of the Commissioner. The fund consists of any fees the Commissioner collects. The moneys in the fund are appropriated to Iowa Workforce Development to be used by the Commissioner to pay the actual costs and expenses necessary to perform the duties of 90A.
[2/25: short form (Excused: Dickey)]

SF 496/SSB 1147 – Prohibiting non-compete agreements, low-wage workers

SF 496/SSB 1147 prohibits employers from entering into noncompete agreements with low-wage employees. A “low-wage employee” is an employee who earns an hourly wage that is less than or equal to $14.50 per hour. A “noncompete agreement” means an agreement between the employer and the low-wage employee that restricts the employee from performing any of the following: work for a different employer for a specified period of time, work in a specified geographical area, and work for a different employer that is similar to a low-wage employee’s work for the employer who is a party to the agreement.
[2/25: short form (Excused: Dickey)]