|On Wednesday, it was Rural Electric Cooperative Day on the Hill, and legislators had the opportunity to meet and hold discussion with electric co-ops from across the state. I spoke with Access Energy Cooperative from Mount Pleasant and heard about their plans and thoughts on legislative issues. It was a great group to speak with who also brought up very interesting points in regard to pieces of legislation moving through the process. To my surprise, REC also provided us with a spread of wonderful desserts and sweets. I want to thank all of the groups that came and REC for putting on a great event.
One of the two bills I brought to the floor was SF 318, which was the Governor’s Apprenticeship Bill. This bill will establish the Iowa Office of Apprenticeship within the Department of Workforce Development. In order for an apprenticeship program to register with the Iowa Office of Apprenticeship, the program must include the following: On-the-job training, paid work experience, employer involvement, must be in compliance with applicable federal regulations, and instruction from a lead apprenticeship sponsor, to name a few. The overall goal with this bill is to address the workforce challenge that our state is experiencing, while also giving people the skills they need to find success in various industries.
As I mentioned when running this bill, not all Iowans want to go to college to receive higher education, and that is just fine. Some Iowans prefer to learn a trade and get to work, and these are the individuals that will benefit from apprenticeship programs. I think this is a GREAT bill, from our GREAT governor, Kim Reynolds. I am honored to have run this bill and believe it will have a very positive impact in the future.
The second bill I brought to the floor was SF 319, which deals with private sector employee drug testing. First off, this bill changes the definition of “safety sensitive position” and allows the employer to determine what positions in their business are “safety sensitive” instead of the courts. It is just common sense that an employer would know their operation better than the courts. This bill also changes the notification protocol for communication between the employer and employee. Current law requires communication to be completed by mail with a return receipt. The bill keeps this option but includes two more options including the option of in person communication and electronic means (email) as well. This bill will benefit business owners, and increase efficiency in relation to drug and alcohol testing.
Last week I heard from several different businesses in my district that had received letters from the Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) office concerning random unemployment audits. In the letter there was an overwhelmingly burdensome amount of documents that was being demanded to be provided to IWD, and in the letter it stated IWD was still operating under “COVID protocols,” thus the field agent would not be accommodating in visiting the business in person. Being the Chairman of the Workforce Committee in the Senate, I immediately called the Director at IWD and got this addressed! First off, COVID is over from a standpoint where it is being used as an excuse to not travel or to be accommodating to employers, ESPECIALLY from departments within the state! I informed the director that any “field auditor” had better be visiting the businesses if it made things easier for the business rather than hiding behind some “COVID protocol” excuse so that they can work from home. Second, the amount of information that the letters were demanding was outside of what the law allows and a HUGE burden on employers to take the time to gather, with little reason (or need) for the requested information to start with. If any of you have received these letters, please feel free to reach out to me if you need any assistance.
This proved to be a productive week in which we passed some important legislation. I can only assume we will continue floor debate next week, with some committee meetings thrown in the mix as well. I greatly look forward to getting more legislation passed and discussing the governor’s appointments to boards and commissions that will begin next week. We’ve had a week or two to recover from funnel week, but now its time to kick things back into gear! As always, thank you for the support, Senate District 44. If you have questions or comments about legislation, you can reach me at Adrian.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend and don’t forget to root for our Iowa colleges playing in the March Madness NCAA tournament!