h digitalfootprint web 728x90

Iowa Business Council leader says group’s legislative priorities will make Iowa more competitive


The Iowa Business Council today released its legislative priorities for 2023, saying they will make the state more competitive, create jobs and provide opportunities for Iowa businesses to expand.

The Business Council’s priorities build off of progress made in previous sessions and elevate some issues to a higher level of focus. The priorities are, in no order of importance, competitive tax policy, mental health, tort reform and workforce initiatives.

The Business Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose 20 members are the chief decision-makers of the state’s largest employers. According to its website, it works to elevate Iowa’s economy through thought leadership, research and advocacy.

Joe MurphyJoe Murphy, the organization’s executive director, said it supports more action on the state’s tax policies to improve its competitive standing, making it more attractive for people and businesses who live in Iowa but also those who are thinking of moving here.

The Business Council will seek to build on the individual and corporate income tax reforms that were approved during the 2022 session to make sure all companies benefit from them, but also focus on reforming the state’s property tax system, he said.

“This is a very complex issue,” Murphy said before the release of the priorities. “Property taxes are intertwined with so many different aspects of services throughout our state. So what the Iowa Business Council is wanting to do is to look at the property tax system in a holistic way. Make sure that it is still funding the areas that we need to fund while also making sure we’re remaining competitive.”

He said property taxes are also a housing issue, and reforming property taxes may make buying a house more affordable.

“So making sure our assessments and the taxes we pay on those properties aren’t pricing people out of the housing market who are already really at that razor’s edge on whether or not they are able to afford a home in our state,” Murphy said.

The Business Council also wants lawmakers to expand registered apprenticeship opportunities in high schools throughout the state.

“It’s making sure we provide introductory work-based learning opportunities throughout the entire high school system and making sure that every high school student has the opportunity to participate in one of those work-based learning experiences in their high school career,” Murphy said.

He said the Business Council also wants lawmakers to “double down” on child care and housing during the 2023 session to help make Iowa a more attractive place to work.

“I think as the governor puts together her budget priorities and her Condition of the State, I would expect to see these things elevated there,” Murphy said. “Then we’ll continue to get to work and talk about ways in which we can provide additional tools, funding, anything we can to help these existing programs not only thrive but expand throughout our high school system in our state.”

Murphy said the Business Council will continue to talk about making Iowa a welcoming state to all individuals. He declined to speculate on what legislation may be introduced in 2023, but said the state and its business community needs to do more to make Iowa welcoming and inclusive.

“And that’s individuals currently in our state and those who currently do not reside in our state. We should be doing everything we can to recruit new Iowans into our state so our communities can grow, our employee e-base can grow, and our companies can thrive and make a positive economic difference in our state,” he said.

That includes pushing for federal immigration reform, he said.

“We continue to view comprehensive immigration reform and modernization as a wonderful economic development tool,” Murphy he said. “Iowa has a very rich history of being welcoming and inclusive to people coming to our country. You think about what we did post-Vietnam and Gov. Ray, we should be really leaning into that legacy right now.”

Part of that is positioning companies to be welcoming to foreign-born talent and working with the state’s congressional delegation to ensure people who are educated in Iowa don’t have to leave because of visa issues.

“Our immigration system has not been retooled or modernized for decades, and our economy has changed significantly in that time,” Murphy said. “As Iowa continues to struggle with population growth, immigration reform is a key endeavor for us.”

On mental health, Murphy said more needs to be done, and the issue has been elevated among the business community heading into 2023.

“We have a role in advocating for strategies that will allow for more mental health professionals to come into our state and more mental health services to thrive in Iowa,” he said. “Our members really felt strongly about elevating this topic because of what it means for our future.”

A person who is struggling with mental health issues likely isn’t able to perform at a level they want to at work, but also may not be engaged with their family at home, Murphy said.

“The Business Council recognizes that an approach to mental health and mental well-being is holistic and we need to support our employees not only when they’re working on our manufacturing lines or in our corporate offices, but we need to support their wellness in all aspects of their life,” he said.

Tort reform, which has failed to gain approval in recent sessions, was the final priority, and Murphy said it becomes an economic development issue that Iowa needs to address, whether that be with medical malpractice caps or limitations on noneconomic damages in civil cases.

“We want to be able to protect our companies so that they are able to continue to offer jobs and opportunities to Iowans, expand businesses in Iowa, and be sheltered from frivolous or nonsensical lawsuits,” he said. “We’re not talking about shielding completely, but we’re talking about limiting the capability of bankrupting potential companies that would cause great economic harm.”

Murphy said that when looked at in total, the priorities will make Iowa more competitive.

“When you look at them, they are all areas in which we are elevating our competitiveness to create jobs and opportunities for Iowans and to provide opportunities for Iowa businesses to expand,” he said.

The 2023 session is scheduled to start on Jan. 9. The Business Record will host its 2023 Legislative Forecast on Jan. 10.

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!

midamerican brd 040122 300x250