The Rozenboom Report – March 7, 2017
Last week was our first funnel week and it is one of the busiest we have in the legislature. The first funnel week is when bills must be through the committees of the originating chamber in order to be considered for the rest of this legislative session. If they do not pass committee, they are considered dead for this year, but they can be considered again next year.
The funnel is a self-imposed deadline to help us focus on the bills we want to get passed during the session so we can do the people’s work in a timely manner and end the session on time. An important example of priority legislation we considered before the funnel deadline is SSB 1145, which prohibits government entities from requiring contractors to submit any information the contractor deems confidential or proprietary as a requirement to be considered responsible or responsive.
Some local governments require contractors to complete prequalification questionnaires with intrusive questions to determine if the contractor is “responsible” enough to complete the project. These questionnaires are public record once they are submitted – even if the contractor is not awarded the project.
The bill also states that government entities shall neither prohibit nor require contractors to enter into a project labor agreement (PLA) for a project or series of projects as a condition of performing work on public construction projects. Numerous studies show that PLA mandates can increase construction costs by nearly 20 percent. Taxpayers deserve the best construction at the best price when they are paying for construction projects. This bill does not prohibit a government entity from accepting a bid from a contractor that includes a PLA when it makes sense for taxpayers. This bill simply requires the market to make that determination.
I was fortunate enough to be a leading voice as the Senate passed SF 257, which sets forth the steps and considerations for conducting bass fishing tournaments on public water, and requires the person conducting the tournament acquire a permit from the DNR. This allows possession of up to five live bass of any length for weigh-in during the tournament so long as they are kept alive and released after weigh-in. While permit requirements are currently present in DNR rules, this bill will codify a great opportunity for sportsmanship and tourism in our state.
In 1913 the state of Iowa established a workers compensation framework that ensured workers who were injured on the job were treated fairly and compensated appropriately for their injuries. This process worked well and was widely regarded as a model for how states should manage work related injuries to employees.
In 2006 Iowa had the 5th lowest cost of workers compensation premiums in the country. This rate was very beneficial to Iowa companies. It allowed them to keep their costs down and be competitive with businesses in other states or other countries. However, over the last 10 years the costs have skyrocketed moving Iowa’s workers compensation premium costs to the 24th highest in the country. One significant factor in this process have been run away bureaucrats and un-elected judges systematically making the cost of doing business in this state more expensive by the year.
This year a coalition of over 250 job creators from across Iowa have banded together in support of SSB 1170 to work to bring balance back to Iowa’s system. This bill will crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse of the workers compensation system by restoring predictability and fairness to the system in Iowa that worked so well for nearly a century.
This bill is an important aspect of the pro-growth agenda that is critical to Iowa. It will help lower the cost of doing business in our state, providing employers with more resources to invest in Iowa and continue to create jobs and opportunities for Iowans.