2019 Public Policy Priorities

2019 State Public Policy Agenda

* = New or increased appropriations from last year's budget

Text in purple represents results from 2019 Iowa Legislative session.

Workforce Development

Iowa’s workforce challenges remain a top concern for our member businesses. A strong education system is critical to meeting our region’s current and future workforce needs. We must bring our schools back to world-class competitiveness and return to our reputation as the best education system in the nation if we want to encourage more people to stay, return to or discover Iowa as a place to live. Iowa must support initiatives and programs that grow our population, develop needed skills and encourage business collaboration and alignment with K-12 and higher education institutions to maximize local efforts to build Iowa’s talent pipeline. We support the investment in our students through efforts to sustain and expand financial assistance to attend Iowa’s public and private institutions. Additionally, we encourage the legislature to examine ways to modernize and improve the education funding formula in a way that serves all school districts and allows school boards to effectively manage their financial resources to meet their responsibilities.

  • Support innovative teaching in public K-12 schools to help meet the skills demand of Iowa’s workforce and better align students with the careers of tomorrow, including supporting additional resources and programs that certify teachers for computer science training, increase of STEM classes for middle and high school students, increase of high school students internships and teacher externships and implement a comprehensive student learning-skills assessment system.
    • HF758 provides $500,000 for computer science teacher development, $2.9million for Career & Technical Education & $15 million to the Skilled Worker & Job Creation Fund for workforce training. (signed into law on 5/13/19)
    • SF608 provides $400,000 for mentorship program,* $250,000 for a pilot summer program for at-risk youth to explore high-demand careers* and $1million for STEM internships, (Status: with Governor)
  • Support funding requests for K-12 and Kirkwood Community College, including extending the SAVE sales tax and increasing State General Aid at least at the same rate of growth as the State General Fund Revenue.
    • HF546 extends the SAVE penny for another 20 years (signed into law on 5/24/19)
    • HF758 provides $6 million to community colleges (signed into law on 5/13/19)*
  • Support the funding requests of the University of Iowa and Board of Regents that will move Iowa up in industry rankings and support our state’s economic growth.
    • SF608 provides funds to the University of Iowa toward research in entrepreneur growth and economic stimulus for Iowa. (Status: with Governor)
    • HF758 provides $12 million to the state Board of Regents for three Iowa’s public universities. (signed into law on 5/13/19)
  • Support funding Future Ready Iowa initiatives, including the registered apprenticeship program, without diverting funding from other local and state efforts to build our region’s talent pipeline.
    • SF608 provides $1.2 million for the Employer Innovation Fund to encourage employers, educators, economic developers, chambers of commerce and nonprofit organizations to pool resources to strengthen regional workforce talent pipelines. (Status: with Governor)*
    • SF608 provides $1 million for registered apprenticeships, $900,000 for regional tourism marketing. (Status: with Governor)
    • HF758 provides $13 million for the Last Dollar Scholar programs for training that leads to jobs on the state’s high-demand jobs list.(signed into law on 5/13/19)*
  • Support policies that address the child care “cliff effect” to increase access to quality and affordable child care assistance and allow more employees to enter the workforce.
    • HF758 provides $22 million for Early Childhood Iowa, a state office that oversees early-childhood initiatives, for skills development and support for on-going staff training (signed into law on 5/13/19)*
    • SF608 adds a significant provision calling for the Iowa Workforce Development board to update the state’s high-demand jobs list, and community colleges to do this regionally. This is an opportunity to add “childcare provided” to the lists, resulting in increased funding for training in this high-demand profession, and opening the door for childcare affordability assistance (Status: with Governor)
  • Support policies that help prepare offenders for successful reentry to Iowa communities and employment, including the expansion of high school equivalency diploma pathways and apprenticeships that train workers in a career pathway while earning credits toward an equivalent diploma.
    • SF608 provides $387,000 for Iowa’s Offender Re-entry Program for skills training (status: with Governor)*
    • HF650 creates an employer liability shield in certain instances who hire individuals with past criminal offences (signed into law 4/17/2019)

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Business Development

Iowa has been able to successfully leverage development incentives to continue growing the economy, and these programs are key to keeping Iowa competitive. Economic development incentives have contributed to capital investment across the state, creating thousands of jobs, encouraging investment in Iowa and must be protected. We will continue to advocate for tax policies that lead to economic growth and job creation; further simplification and predictability of the code; and promotion of tax fairness and fiscal responsibility. Additionally, we encourage the on-going review and analysis of agency rules and regulations to promote a business environment that fosters the entrepreneurial mindset and works to grow our economy.

  • Protect key economic development incentives that demonstrate a positive return on investment particularly those that work to further innovation, workforce and re-development.
    • SF608 provides $11.7million for the High-Quality Jobs program and no changes to incentive tax credits (signed into law 5/17/2019)
    • No changes to other economic development incentive programs
  • Continue supporting the region’s Automated Vehicle Proving Ground through policies that further the effective and successful research, development, testing, operation and implementation of autonomous vehicles in the state of Iowa.
    • SF302 creates basic regulations for automated vehicles including rules on operation, insurance and driver/owner liability (status: signed into law 5/6/2019)
  • Continue exploring ways for businesses to provide more affordable and flexible healthcare plans.
    • No significant legislation addressing affordably or flexibility of healthcare plans.
  • Protect the state’s commitment to backfill cities, counties and schools.
    • No change to state’s commitment to backfill
  • Support the reasonable use of tax increment financing (TIF) and other programs as economic development tools to assist in the recruitment, retention and expansion of business. These tools must be used to grow tax base and contribute to new opportunities for all our citizens.
    • No legislation impacting TIF
    • SF599 establishes the Hemp Act to regulate, produce and market hemp in Iowa. (signed into law on 5/13/19)
  • As rules and regulations of the 2018 tax reform are finalized, ensure outcomes focus on simplification, growth, fairness and fiscal responsibility.
    • HF779, the Omnibus Tax Bill changes and corrects to income tax, sales tax and other tax related changes (signed into law 5/3/2019)
    • SF220 expands the expensing allowance deduction for corporations and now aligns with what individual taxpayers may take under Section 179. (signed into law 3/15/2019)

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Community Development

Iowa needs to keep more Iowans in the state and attract new populations to make their home here contributing to our economic growth. Part of accomplishing that is creating desirable and robust communities with a great “quality of place.” High quality and reliable infrastructure systems are central to economic growth. We encourage long-term planning and examination of innovative funding mechanisms to make the necessary resources available for significant capital investment improvements.

  • Support the City of Cedar Rapids' request allowing local governments to issue 30-year bonds for flood mitigation projects.
    • HF741 allows cities to issue 30-year bonds for flood mitigation projects (signed into law on 5/16/19).
  • Secure sustainable, reliable funding for Enhance Iowa initiatives and other community attraction grants.
    • HF765 provides $1.5million for recreational trails*, $1million for Great Places grants and $5million for Community Attraction (CAT) Grants (signed into law on 5/13/19).
  • Support funding sources and flexible policies to sufficiently address needed water infrastructure improvements, including full funding of the Iowa Flood Center.
    • HF765 provides $5.2million for water quality initiatives (signed into law on 5/13/19).
    • HF758 provides $1.2million for the Iowa Flood Center (signed into law on 5/13/19)*
  • Support efforts to attract broadband investment and expand access throughout all parts of the state.
    • HF772 creates incentives for expansion of broadband in rural Iowa (signed into law on 5/20/19)*
  • Support the development of a commercial aviation infrastructure plan that invests the resources necessary to allow Iowa businesses to compete in a global marketplace.
    • HF765 provides $1.9million for commercial aviation infrastructure and $1million for general aviation infrastructure (signed into law on 5/13/19).*
  • Enforcement technologies used to increase safety in targeted dangerous areas.
    • No legislation impacting city’s ability to use cameras for public safety reasons

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2019 Federal Public Policy Agenda

Workforce Development

Higher education is an economic driver in our region, and a crucial element in meeting our workforce challenges. We support policies that connect local workforce strategies with local economic development strategies and education policies and programs that align with the workforce strategy needs of tomorrow. Additionally, ensuring skilled, qualified workers continue to have the ability to live and work in the United States will help meet current and future labor demands and drive innovation and entrepreneurship. This is an integral part of solving the workforce shortage in Iowa, and across the country.

  • Support funding priorities for Kirkwood Community College, including allowing Pell Grants to be used for short-term, workforce-oriented programs.
  • Support funding priorities for the University of Iowa, specifically robust funding for federal financial aid programs and research programs at the federal agencies.
  • Support immigration reform that allows employers further access to skilled workers, including reaching a permanent solution for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and a mandatory employment verification (e-verify) system feasible for employers of all sizes and industries.

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Business Development

Local economies and businesses from all industries benefit from investment of federal dollars in research and development, and funding for research granting agencies ensures Iowa continues to benefit from these dollars. We are encouraged by recent improvements to the federal tax code and regulatory rules. Tax, regulatory, trade and energy policies should encourage capital investment and global competitiveness, promote and grow local economies, provide equal treatment across industries and individuals, be responsible and expand access to additional markets. A sustainable, flexible and affordable healthcare system that provides certainty in the marketplace must be a priority for businesses and their employees.

  • Support funding requests for research granting agencies that work to grow local economies and address nation-wide challenges.
  • Support policies that make it easier for Iowa small business owners, entrepreneurs, manufacturers and farmers to sell their products abroad by eliminating taxes, tariffs and other trade barriers on American goods.
  • Support the examination of new policies that provide a sustainable, flexible and affordable healthcare system.

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Community Development

Long-term funding for transportation and infrastructure that allows access to communities of all sizes will allow Iowa to maintain our current systems and build and improve to be competitive. Safe roads and bridges, reliable transit systems, and accessible airports and broadband are vital to community growth and competitiveness.

  • Secure changes to transportation grant programs that increase access for all communities.
  • Support measures to address the nation’s pilot shortage, including lowering financial barriers to the profession and increase the number of pathways to accrue the necessary experience to ensure sustainable and competitive regional air service.
  • Support implementing a long-term sustainable funding solution to meet the nation’s infrastructure needs, including high-speed broadband.
  • Support an increase in the supply of housing through increased federal appropriations for key housing and community development programs, and the expansion of federal housing tools.
  • Support the federal government’s commitment to programs and projects to improve flood mitigation efforts.
  • Support for the Opportunity Zones program to encourage long-term investment in under-developed and lower income neighborhoods.

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