Illinois Enacts Illinois Preference Act; Iowa Reciprocates With Same Requirements on Public Works Jobs

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You might have heard by now. But we at the Master Builders of Iowa wanted to publish this blog post as a reminder of some recent developments related to bidding public projects in Iowa. In late 2020, Illinois enacted their Illinois Preference Act which requires contractors to use at least 90% Illinois laborers on all public works projects that receive state funds or projects by which Illinois administers the funds. Iowa has a reciprocal bidding statute that is now in effect.

We are thankful to Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts, who said the following:

“Due to current high unemployment, the State of Illinois is applying their bidder preference to require public work contracts only to be awarded to businesses that will be using 90% Illinois residents. Iowa will now mirror Illinois’ statute.  Illinois contractors now have an obligation to employ 90% Iowa residents on any Iowa public works job,” said Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts. “If you know of a contract awarded in violation of this requirement, you can submit a Bidder Preference Complaint Form.” For more information, see

Below, is the original public notice that was distributed in early October 2020.


TO:  Master Builders of Iowa Members, Licensed Architects & Engineers in the State of Iowa

The Iowa Labor Commissioner enforces Iowa Code Section 73A.21 governing bidding preferences for public works contracts.  The requirements impact the manner of contracting by governmental entities and establish recordkeeping requirements for certain contractors.

Pursuant to 875 Iowa Administrative Code, Chapter 156, a “Bidder Status Form” must be completed by all interested bidders – regardless of state of domicile.  This form shall be requested by all public owners who are awarding a public improvement.

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the State of Illinois is implementing and enforcing their labor force preference statute that requires contractors – regardless of their state of domicile – to use at least 90 percent Illinois workers on all public projects receiving state funds.  This is due in part to the unemployment rate in the State of Illinois being at or greater than 5 percent.

Iowa Code Section 73A.21, states that when a public improvement contract is to be let, a resident bidder is given preference against a non-resident bidder whose state requires preference in the same amount of such preference.  This also includes instances in which a labor force preference is given or instituted.

Iowa contractors, architects and engineers should take note of the change of the actions taken by the State of Illinois and recognize this labor force requirement when an interested bidder – who is domiciled in Illinois – bids an Iowa-based public improvement.

If you have any questions concerning the above notice, you may call Chad Kleppe, President and CEO of the Master Builders of Iowa at 515-657-4382.