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Public Policy Update: 2024 Legislative Session Comes to End

May 8, 2024 | Public Policy

State Policy Update

Each year, the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance puts forth public policy priorities after much consultation and input from our members. Together as a region, along with our partners from Greater Iowa City, Inc., we advocate for pro-growth policies at the state and federal levels. This past legislation session we concentrated again on workforce policies that help our businesses grow and invest in our communities. We focused on investing in the talent pipeline, increasing affordable quality child care, developing additional housing options, tax structures that encourage investment and taping into technology as a solution to challenges employers face.

The Iowa Legislature adjourned on April 20, four days after their per diems ran out. The final week brought budget work, more tax reform and remaining policy bills. The governor has 30 days to sign or veto bills once they are sent to her, and additionally can line-item veto budget bills. With the conclusion of the 2024 Iowa legislative session, an update on policies that align with our priorities include:

  • Expanding Work-Based Learning: The Governor’s Work-based Learning bill passed both Chambers and awaits her signature. It expands work-based learning opportunities, creates a workforce opportunity fund, makes changes to student teaching requirements, adds eligibility requirements for the last dollar scholarship program and adds work-based learning to career and technical education classes that 9-12 schools are required to offer.
  • Community Attraction & Livability Efforts: In the Senate, legislation was introduced to establish a new Major Events and Tourism program that would provide financial assistance for attracting large events that would generate economic development and tourism. The bill failed to pass, but $10 million was appropriated from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) budget to a new tourism fund that could be used if the legislation passes in future years. In addition, Destination Iowa, a community placemaking funding program, received a $10 million appropriation in the Economic Development budget.
  • Economic Development Competitiveness: Economic development tools continued to be a focus of this session. In 2023, the Iowa Economic Development Authority introduced a bill that would create a new Major Economic Growth Attraction Program, allowing Iowa to compete for large-scale economic development projects that provide high-paying jobs and capital investment. The Senate passed the bill in 2023 and the House adopted the legislation during the 2024 session. Click here to read what it will mean for Iowa.
  • Affordable & Accessible Quality Child Care: We support policies that address access, affordability and quality child care. Both chambers passed a bill that will require the state to pay higher rates to child care providers that participate in an assistance program that helps low-income Iowans afford child care. It also would extend a pilot program to let child care providers use that assistance for their own children. While the Governor proposed a policy change that would designate child care facilities as residential property, rather than at the commercial rate, to decrease property tax costs so they can use those savings toward other efforts, like workforce wages, it ultimately did not pass.
  • Promoting Predictable & Fair Taxes: There were several major tax-related bills considered again this session. We continue to call for tax structures that are simple, predictable, and promote fairness and fiscal responsibility. Ultimately both chambers and the governor compromised on a bill that accelerates the phase-down from the 2022 legislation to create a flat individual income tax rate of 3.8% beginning in tax year 2025. Additionally, the legislature took the first steps toward amending Iowa’s Constitution this legislative session related to income tax. Two resolutions passed the chambers requiring a two-thirds majority approval for future legislators to raise individual income taxes and the other requires Iowa to use a flat tax rate system. The legislature must adopt the same language during the next legislative session for the proposed amendments to be considered by the public for ratification.
  • Protecting Employers: A bill requiring employers to utilize the flawed federal employment verification system has been introduced in the last few sessions. The Economic Alliance, as well as most other business groups from around the state, oppose the legislation as the system is flawed yet still holds businesses responsible. The bill ultimately failed to advance.
  • Passenger Rail Across Iowa: A bill that would have Iowa join the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact was placed on the Unfinished Business Calendar of both chambers but failed to see a vote before the session ended. We will continue to support this legislation next session as it is the first step in Iowa seeing passenger rail from the Quad Cities, through Iowa City and Des Moines, to Council Bluffs.
  • Increasing Housing Options: Status quo funding remains for the Workforce Housing Tax Credit program, despite a bill that would have increased the cap from $25 million to $50 million. We will continue to support policy changes and program funding increases that meet the demand for affordable and available housing stock.
  • Embracing Solutions Utilizing Technology: The Manufacturing 4.0 program saw an increase in funding to $2 million in the Economic Development budget for the next fiscal year. We support this statewide program that prepares Iowa manufacturers to remain globally competitive through a 4th industrial revolution.

2024 marked the sixth consecutive year the Economic Alliance has joined forces with Greater IC to advocate as a region for the business community. And while the session is over, our advocacy work continues. Be on the lookout for ways to engage in our efforts and contribute to our 2025 legislative priorities. Thank you to our members for supporting our efforts.

Federal Policy Update

Business Groups Push to Stop FCC’s Ban on Employer Noncompete Agreements

Congress Reaches Deal on Federal Aviation Administration’s Reauthorization