Big Labor Bills Could Resurface

From this week’s House Republican Newsletter:

Status of the Labor Bills, Most Bills Dead for Now

As the session moves towards adjournment, here is the status of the major Labor Committee bills:

HOUSE FILE 11 – TIE MINIMUM WAGE TO SOCIAL SECURITY COLA — HF 11 ties the state’s minimum wage to the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for social security benefits. Currently the minimum wage is set by the Iowa Code. STATUS: DIED IN THE HOUSE

HOUSE FILE 333 – PREVAILING WAGE – PRICE FIXING — HF 333 requires that state and local governments pay a prevailing wage for public projects. The bill, otherwise known as the price fixing for public projects act, failed to pass the House. STATUS: DIED IN THE HOUSE

HOUSE FILE 530 – CHOICE OF DOCTOR – DOCTOR SHOPPING — HF 530 provides that an employee may select their own doctor by having that doctor on file with the employer. The doctor need not be a specialist or occupational physician, and any referral to such a specialist must be paid for by the employer. Currently employers can send injured workers directly to the appropriate specialist thus avoiding the cost of the referring doctor. STATUS: DIED IN THE HOUSE

HOUSE FILE 555 – FAIR SHARE FEES / DISMANTLING RIGHT TO WORK — HF 555 repeals the Right to Work provisions afforded to Iowa’s private and public employees and a force fair share (union) fee upon non-union employees. The “fair share fee” would be the amount charged to an employee (covered by a bargaining unit) who is not a member of a union to cover the costs incurred (by the union). These costs include union organizing activities. STATUS: DIED IN THE HOUSE

HOUSE FILE 618 – CHILD LABOR / WAGE PAYMENT VIOLATIONS — HF 618 increases the fine for wage payment violations from $100 to $500. The bill states the evidence obtained by the Federal Government can be used as evidence that a business has violated the child labor law. (This was because current law did not allow evidence obtained by ICE in the Agriprocessors raid to be used against the management of the company.) STATUS: SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR

HOUSE FILE 681 – NEW STATE WARN ACT – PLANT CLOSINGS — HF 681 creates the Iowa worker adjustment and retraining notification (WARN) act. The bill requires employers to notify employees and Iowa Workforce Development of plant closings that result in the layoff of 25 of more full-time employees and mass layoffs. STATUS: DIED IN THE HOUSE

HOUSE FILE 683 – BREAST FEEDING MANDATE BILL — HF 683 requires employers to provide unpaid break time and reasonable space to employees who need to self-administer prescription meds and those who need to express breast milk or breast-feed a child. STATUS: DIED IN THE HOUSE

HOUSE FILE 775 – SCHEDULED INJURIES — HF 775 makes changes to Chapter 85.34 stating that if an employee sustains and injury and is unable to return to employment providing substantially similar earnings, compensation shall be paid for 500 weeks. STATUS: DIED IN THE HOUSE

HOUSE FILE 791 – WORKERS COMPENSATION PENALTY BENEFITS — HF 791 is a one section bill that makes changes to Chapter 86.13, which covers the imposition of additional workers’ comp benefits because the benefits were unreasonably denied, delayed in payment or terminated. HF 791 is advocated by the Trial Lawyers Association in response to two Iowa Supreme Court cases (Keystone Nursing Care Center v. Craddock and City of Madrid v. Blasnitz) where the claimants were denied penalty benefits. STATUS: DIED IN THE HOUSE

HOUSE FILE 794 – PERB CLEANUP / CHAPTER 20 CHANGES — HF 794 makes changes to Chapter 20 – Public Employment Relations (Collective Bargaining). This is exactly the same as HF 2645, the bill that the Democrats attached open scope collective bargaining and teacher termination language to on the floor that was eventually vetoed by the Governor in May, 2008. STATUS: DIED IN THE HOUSE

SENATE FILE 318 – AMUSEMENT PARK INSURANCE / CONYENCE — SF 318 increases the insurance policy minimums needed to obtain an operator’s permit under Code chapter 88A, relating to amusement ride safety. The bill also directs the elevator safety board to adopt rules regarding the submission of plans, drawings, and measurements concerning new conveyance installations and alterations. STATUS: PASSED BY BOTH CHAMBERS

SENATE FILE 413 – WAGE PAYMENT COLLECTION ISSUES — SF 413 relates to wage payment collection issues that arise between employers and employees. It is yet another bill that will make it more difficult to do business in the state. It will also impact new business startups because entrepreneurs will be less inclined to incorporate in Iowa due to these regulations. STATUS: DIED IN THE HOUSE

Until the session finally ends (or for that matter, 51 Republicans are elected to the Iowa House), there is no guarantee that any of the bills that are currently dead stay that way. For the time being it appears that Iowans have been able to stop Big Labor’s push for their own special interest bailouts.

House Republicans will continue to stand with Iowans and oppose legislation like doctor shopping, price fixing for public projects, dismantling Right to Work and other bills that threaten to increase the unemployment rate while doing nothing to help the 87,000 Iowans currently out of work.