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May 6, 2016  |  2016 Session Review

Session Adjourns.

The 86th General Assembly probably won't go down in the books as a landmark session, but on the other hand they followed the old medical axiom - do no harm.

Coupling on IRS Tax Code
IMTA supported legislation that was passed and signed by the Governor that coupled Iowa tax code with the federal tax code which allows businesses to expense up to $500,000 in equipment purposes in the first year.  Iowa had allowed this deduction in recent years, but the issue requires legislative action and this year it was not in the Governor's budget.  Although the coupling extension is only for the tax year ending in 2015, with passage of the legislation it does provide buyers who believed they would get the tax still receive the deduction, but it appears pretty clear that this will not be the case going forward. 

Oversize and Overweight Vehicles (SF 2248 and HF 2383)
Legislation supported by IMTA has passed that will allow 46,000 pounds on a single tandem axle of the trailer is each axle of each tandem has at least four tires.

Iowa DOT Appropriations
In the last 15 years the Iowa DOT has reduced staff sizes by approximately 1,500 employees. Certainly, a great deal of that was forced by belt tightening measures, as well as new measures implemented over the years.  This year marked the first time in maybe 10 years that the department asked the legislature for an increase in funding for salaries. 
It was argued the funding was needed  due to merit pay increases, insurance costs and collective bargaining agreements, plus the 10 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax has increased workloads.  The department was requesting $9.7 million and told legislators this was needed just to maintain current staffing levels.  Without the funding the DOT claimed there could be as many as 400 layoffs in the next few years.
Although increased workload tied to the gas tax was one of the reasons cited by the Iowa DOT, that argument was met with little support by many in the legislature.  Republican leaders, in particular, stated publicly they had not supported a gas tax to have it go into salaries.  The Senate passed the $9.7 million increase, but the House failed to provide any increase in funding.
This issue came down to one of the sticking points stopping the legislature from adjourning.  The bill ended up in a conference committee with the final compromise being a $4.8 increase.
Wage Study Passes
Tucked into the standings bill is a provision calling for a wage study between public sector and private sector jobs.  In other words, is a truck driver for the state being paid more or less than a truck driver for an IMTA member.  The study is not specific to the trucking industry by any means, but it is aimed at focusing on jobs which can be easily compared across the public and private sector lines.  The bill is on the Governor's desk and he as 30 days from the end of the session to act.

CDL Testing
Legislation was introduced to allow community colleges and other third party vendors to test CDL applicants.  AFSCME argued this could cost state employee jobs, but the Iowa DOT disagreed.  Ultimately, the legislation did not advance after the DOT and the community colleges agreed current law allows the community colleges to offer testing for students who were not part of a community college CDL program.

There were a number of anti-business bills that failed to advance:
Wage Theft
Although the Senate worked with IMTA in accepting many of the concerns we had expressed in past years, the legislation still failed to advance.  As the bill applied to the trucking industry, it, basically, provided trucking companies to have an agreement in writing as to how the employees are to be paid.   It would have required our members to keep one more piece of paper in their files, it was much less onerous than previous versions of the bill that would have created payroll nightmares. But as in the past, IMTA has continued to watch any proposed legislation that is attached to wages and oversight.

Ban the Box (Felony Questions for Employment Applications)
IMTA opposed legislation prohibiting employers from having a box on application forms asking if the applicant had ever been convicted of a felony.  It did allow an employer to address the question prior to offering a job, but not during the application process.

Wage Discrimination (SF 2193)
IMTA opposed legislation  that would prohibit an employee from requiring employees to not disclose wages or benefits with other employees.  It would also prohibit an employer from seeking previous wage information from a potential employee during the interview process. It would require an employer to post the minimum rate of pay in all job advertisements.
Insurance Mandates
Once again the business industry was able to stop legislation specific to an array of insurance mandates. Some of them that failed included a requirement that health insurance plans cover eating disorder treatment .

Paid Time-Off for Prenatal Care
Legislation failed that would have required employers to provide paid time off for prenatal care.

Speed Limit Increases
IMTA remained neutral on legislation that would have increased Iowa's interstate speed limits to 75.  IMTA has members that are on either side of the issues

Restrictions on Passing Bicycles
This legislation keeps coming back year-after-year and poses some real safety issues in the opinion of IMTA.  The bill requires a vehicle passing a bicycle to completely move into the left land.  Of course, when practical this seems to make sense.  However, on a two lane road if a truck must slow down to 8-12 miles per hour before it can move into the left lane, it would seem in doing so a much more dangerous situation is being created.

Shifting Focus.
Up Next for IMTA.

IMTA will now shift its focus to the Iowa House and Senate races. Over the next several months, IMTA President, Brenda Neville and IMTA leaders will meet with legislative leaders as well as candidates. Additionally, IMTA will be assembling some working groups over the summer to review issues relative to the Department of Revenue as well as some other DOT priorities specific to oversize/over dimensional loads and ongoing issues with continuity and consistency from county to county.
Next week a group of IMTA members will be heading out to DC for its annual Call on Washington trip. IMTA members will be meeting with all the members of Iowa's Congressional delegation as well as the FMCSA. The primary topics of discussion will be the F4A legislation and Hours of Service legislation. 

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Dave Scott Head Shot  
IMTA Lobbyist
IMTA President