Just this week, our lobbying team led the effort to get Senate File 413 passed out of both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate. The passage of this bill is the culmination of a multi-year effort to reduce Iowa’s statute of repose. However, the latest action on the Iowa House and Senate floors was only part of this long and – at times – frustrating effort.
First, a little history. Iowa did not have a statute of repose until 1984. It was then when first-term Governor Terry Branstad signed a 15 year statute of repose into law. Prior to that MBI’s efforts fell flat, most notably through a gubernatorial veto by Governor Robert Ray in 1980. MBI then tried to reduce to the repose period to 10 years in 2001 only to result in another gubernatorial veto by Governor Tom Vilsack. Since then, there have been multiple attempts to get a bill through both chambers, but to no avail.
It is very difficult to get a defining piece of legislation like SF 413 passed at the Iowa Capitol. For years, MBI has lobbied for this legislation, only to fall short due to the political influence of the Trial Lawyers and the Iowa State Bar Association. But with the Republicans taking control of the Iowa House and Senate, and with a Republican governor, the opportunity to squelch the influence of plaintiff attorneys was at hand. Even with a much more favorable political environment at the Capitol, the effort to pass the legislation was not easy. We had to counter the attacks of the lawyers with grassroots involvement on behalf of our members, as well as continued lobbying of legislators.
This week’s victory on the Iowa House floor is very symbolic. Not only will Iowa’s repose period come more into line with other surrounding states, but it is more of a testament on MBI as an organization and the effort we put forth for the betterment of the industry. We stayed true to the idea of educating legislators. We also involved the MBI-PAC in the process by supporting those candidates who would support our policy priorities. The MBI-PAC was incredibly active in this last election and we are now seeing the results of those targeted contributions.
So what is next? Obviously getting the reduction in the statute of repose off our proverbial legislative plate is a major accomplishment. But, our lobbying team is by no means slowing down. We anticipate a bill on the House floor that will prohibit government-mandated project labor agreements on all publicly-financed projects. We are also working with a coalition of other business groups in trying to pass major reforms to workers’ compensation laws. On the appropriations side of the ledger, MBI is hard at work trying to convince legislators not to use designated infrastructure funds – to the tune of $230 million over the next 12 years – for water quality initiatives. And don’t even get me started with tax reforms.
There are certainly other issues that are bound to come up before the gavel falls on this legislative session. But you can take solace in knowing that our team is at the Iowa Capitol working to promote a business environment favorable to Iowa’s construction industry.
If you have any questions or need additional information on MBI’s public policy efforts, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.