GOP: House Republicans Gave Iowa Employers a #BetterDeal in 2017

June 12, 2017

Iowa’s unemployment rate is at its lowest point in several years and continues to remain lower than most states.

But there’s more that we can do to ensure that Iowa businesses are equipped to succeed and Iowa’s economy continues to grow.  Barriers to innovation need to be broken down and more certainty and opportunity are what Iowa employers need to create jobs and expand.

House Republicans worked this session to foster that pro-growth environment through a number of measures including Workers’ Compensation reform, regulatory reform, investments in job training, and ensuring employers have the infrastructure needed to expand.

These reforms and initiatives will make it easier to do business in Iowa, encourage growth, and lead to more jobs and higher wages for Iowans.

It’s clear that after the 2017 session, Iowa employers are getting a #BetterDeal.

A predictable Workers’ Compensation system

Over the last decade, Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation system was knocked out of balance by several administrative interpretations and court decisions that made our system unpredictable for both Iowa employers and workers who were injured on the job.  Changes made this session provide more clarity to the system, ensuring more stability and predictability for all parties.

Reforms made by House Republicans this session will allow injured workers to collect benefits that are owed to them without the need to hire a costly attorney.  This will leave more money in the pockets of injured employees until they can return to work.  House Republicans also allowed injured workers to qualify for vocational rehab and job retraining, for certain injuries, at the employer’s expense.

Other changes included:

  • Ensuring a safe work environment:  Prohibited benefits to go to employees who are injured at work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Law-abiding workers who follow the rules need to be protected from those who recklessly choose to come to work impaired by alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drug abuse.
  • Ending double dipping of benefits: Reversed a recent Supreme Court decision that allowed injured workers to “double dip” by collecting both partial and total disability benefits at the same time.  Iowa’s worker’s compensation system was never meant to allow a worker to make more money than they were prior to an injury.
  • Safeguarding benefit systems: Prohibited injured employees from collecting Workers’ Compensation and unemployment benefits at the same time.  Workers’ Compensation is meant to support an injured worker who is unable to work while Unemployment Insurance is a temporary measure for people that can
  • Preventing benefit shopping: Required injured workers to file for Workers’ Compensation in the state where their injury took place.  Under the previous law, an employee could injure themselves in Nebraska, but still file for Workers’ Compensation in Iowa based on which state has more generous benefits.  House Republicans closed this loophole.

Limiting job-killing regulations

Iowa businesses are oftentimes over-regulated which stifles growth and kills jobs.  In order to prevent this, House Republicans required all state agencies and departments to include a jobs impact report when proposing new regulations.  This will display the true cost of new rules and regulations and help determine whether or not it’s actually needed.  New government regulations should never impede job creation or kill jobs that already exist.

House Republicans also prohibited local governments from requiring project labor agreements (PLAs) as a condition to bid on public construction projects.  PLAs increase the cost of construction projects and oftentimes cause major delays in the process.  By allowing more firms to bid on public projects, competition will increase and local governments will see savings and lower construction costs.

Building a 21st century workforce

Local community colleges play a vital role in educating Iowa’s workforce all across the state. K-12 schools work with community colleges to offer students college-level coursework, young people attend community colleges for affordable education, and businesses rely on community colleges for high quality job and skills training.  House Republicans increased funding to community colleges by $1.6 million and invested an additional $250,000 for STEM programs to build and grow a stronger 21st century workforce.

Paving the way for the next generation of high speed internet

House Republicans supported efforts to modernize and streamline the deployment of wireless internet technology.  Access to high speed internet is something that businesses depend on to grow, expand, and create jobs for Iowans all across our state.  Efforts championed by House Republicans this session will ensure Iowa businesses, as well as consumers, have access to the latest wireless technologies available.

Reducing lawsuit abuse in Iowa

In order to recruit high quality medical professionals, Iowa needs a system that isn’t abused by frivolous lawsuits.  Doctors and medical professionals need to be protected from lawsuit abuse, but we also need to ensure that those who are legitimately injured due to clear malpractice are able to be compensated.

House Republicans reformed medical malpractice lawsuits by strengthening expert witness standards and requiring experts that testify, to be licensed in the field they are testifying about.  Additionally, a cap of $250,000 for noneconomic damages was instituted, unless a jury determines that an injured person is entitled to more compensation.

Laying the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform

Iowans deserve a tax system that is fair, simple, and competitive with other states to leave more money in the pockets of Iowa families and spur economic growth.  Unfortunately, Iowa’s tax climate is ranked 40th in the country according to the Tax Foundation.  This is due to the fact that our tax code is overly complex with several brackets and a top tax rate that kicks in at a low income threshold.  Iowa’s income tax rate is the 5th highest in the country, which puts small businesses at a disadvantage, as well as the highest corporate tax rate in the nation.

This session, House Republicans began the massive task of reviewing and evaluating the state’s various tax credits programs this session. This review will put the Legislature in a strong position for comprehensive tax reform next session to modernize the state’s complex tax code. Iowans deserve a tax system that’s fairer, simpler, and more competitive to leave more money in the pockets of Iowa families and spur economic growth.

During the interim, House Republicans will be studying tax reform by talking with small business owners and individual taxpayers about what they’d like to see to make a fairer, simpler tax code.


Clearly Iowa employers are getting a #BetterDeal!



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