# Iowa Association Of Business And Industry



Waterloo's "ban the box" ordinance survives in part—for now

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on June 18 that part of the city of Waterloo’s “ban the box” ordinance can remain in effect despite a 2017 law prohibiting local governments from regulating “terms or conditions of employment.”

The city adopted the ordinance in November 2019 to address economic racial disparities. Because African Americans are more likely to have a criminal record, they are adversely affected by job applications that require a person to note whether they have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.

Under Waterloo’s ordinance, employers may not inquire about past convictions, arrests, or pending criminal charges “during the application process,” but may do so after extending “a conditional offer of employment.” The court found that was allowed, because it regulates only “the time when an employer can inquire into a prospective employee’s criminal history,” which is not “a term or condition of employment.”

However, the Iowa Supreme Court held that state law preempts other portions of Waterloo’s ordinance, which prohibit employers from making an “adverse hiring decision” based on an applicant’s criminal history.

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What you need to know to fight the next four terrible Iowa Republican bills

Republicans have already inflicted immeasurable harm on Iowans during the 2017 legislative session, taking rights away from more than 180,000 workers, slashing funding for higher education and human services, and approving the third-smallest K-12 school funding increase in four decades. The worst part is, they’re nowhere near finished.

Iowa Senate Minority Leader Rob Hogg has flagged twelve of the most destructive bills still alive in the GOP-controlled House and Senate. Any Iowan can attend public hearings scheduled for March 6 or 7 on four of those “dirty dozen” bills. Those who are unable to come to the Capitol in person can submit written comments on the legislation or contact Republican state representatives or senators directly by phone or e-mail.

Here’s what you need to know about the four bills most urgently requiring attention.

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Iowa Senate confirms Gipp, Lukan, and other Branstad appointees

Yesterday the Iowa Senate unanimously confirmed eleven of Governor Terry Branstad’s appointees. You can find the full list of confirmations in the Senate Journal (pdf). The department or agency heads confirmed were:

Chuck Gipp, who has been serving as director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources since last May, shortly after his predecessor resigned;

Steve Lukan, whom Branstad hired to run the governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy last June;

Nick Gerhart, who replaced Susan Voss as state insurance commissioner at the end of 2012;

Robert von Wolffradt, whom Branstad appointed as Iowa’s chief information officer last May.

Seven of the nominees senators confirmed yesterday will serve on state boards, councils, or commissions, including Joanne Stockdale, a former chair of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry who is one of Branstad’s appointees to the Environmental Protection Commission.

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Four strategies for interest group Iowa legislative endorsements

Many candidates for the Iowa House and Senate tout endorsements by outside groups in their campaign communications. Some of those groups pay for direct mail, phone calls, or even advertising supporting their endorsed candidates.

Iowa's influential political action committees and advocacy groups have very different ways of getting involved in the state legislative campaign. Follow me after the jump for examples of four distinct strategies.

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EPA tells Iowa DNR to act on small particulates

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is demanding that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources take steps to reduce fine particulate matter statewide and especially in the Muscatine area, which has long had some of Iowa's worst air quality.

Particulates contribute to premature deaths and serious heart and lung diseases, not to mention acid rain and other environmental problems. So it's disappointing to see state officials react to the EPA message with more concern about the polluters than the public's health.  

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Shorter Terry Branstad: The business group made me do it

This post was supposed to be about Governor Terry Branstad interfering with the Iowa Board of Regents. News broke on Monday that the governor leaned on the Regents' elected president and president pro-tem to resign as board officers early, so that Branstad appointees could take charge right away.

That's inappropriate and unprecedented, but it's not even the most outrageous Branstad power grab of the week. The governor urged Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey to resign four years before the end of his appointed term. When Godfrey declined the request, Branstad had his staff ask again for Godfrey's resignation. When Godfrey refused, Branstad slashed his pay by a third.

When asked to explain his actions, Branstad passed the buck to the Iowa Association of Business and Industry. Details are after the jump.

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