February 23, 2018

Legislative Focus

April 17, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 14

Legislature Unfortunately Avoids Adjournment Again

This legislature is making the best prognosticators look really bad.  For the last couple of weeks, many in the lobby predicted that the legislature would have adjourned by now.  Well, that is not the case.  Hopefully, things will be wrapped up by next week, but I have been saying that for the last two weeks.  So, no more adjournment predictions! 

Master Builders of Iowa defends, represents, promotes, educates and nurtures our state’s construction industry leaders.

The Master Builders of Iowa forwards the Association’s annual report to members each winter.  The annual report focuses on accomplishments made throughout the year, measured against the Strategic Plan.  Below is a letter from the 2008 Chairman of the Board, Kent Pilcher, Estes Construction:

Dear MBI Member:

Our mission is to “be the essential resource for improving member performance and promoting a business environment favorable to the construction industry.” Through our Board of Directors, committee leaders, and staff, we strive to be good stewards by defending, representing, promoting, educating, and nurturing Iowa’s construction leaders and their businesses.

Are you expecting an increase in building trades organizational efforts in Iowa?

The proposed legislation known as the Employee Freedom of Choice Act (better known as card check) is on the Obama pay back list. Smart money says the Bill passes mostly intact as unions are notorious poor losers. If enacted by Congress, this law will provide organized labor a much less regulated environment to persuade workers to join the ranks of the building trades unions with a mere card check and without a secret election. This change alone will make it easier to organize a company that has not taken steps to protect its workers who choose to remain non-union. This legislation has numerous other features that change the law in an extremely pro-union fashion. But not surprisingly, the proposed law is attracting opposition from both sides of the political isle and from union and non-union companies alike. Very few so-called union contractors in Iowa have exclusive relationships with their union counterparts. The same can be said of the building trades unions who work for companies not withstanding their union, non-union status. Consequently, legislation along these lines is very divisive in general.

Legislative Focus

April 10, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 13

Adjournment is in Sight – For Now
The word in the Rotunda is that the current legislative session should be – again, “should be” – done by the end of next week.  Except for the Infrastructure appropriations bill and the “standings” bill, all budget bills have been drafted and are in the debate pipeline.  If all goes as planned, the fall of the gavel could occur next Friday.  However, budget bills take time to debate and there will be a number of late nights this next week.  Also, if the Democratic leadership comes to any reasonable consensus on the elimination of federal deductibility, adjourning next week could become more difficult.  Republicans will make this issue painful for the Democrats and draw out the session with a House and Senate floor debate equivalent of a street fight. 

Labor – Industry’s Best Consultants

Dealing with workforce issues such as complex state and federal employment regulations, labor relations, wage negotiations, affirmative action policies and employment discrimination is often the biggest headache for a company.  MBI staff and labor counsel provide members with a full range of services to assist them in dealing with their workforce issues.

 Core Services Include:

  • Assists in preparation for and execution of the collective bargaining process for its signatory collective bargaining members
  • Coordinates and interprets labor agreements
  • Monitors Taft-Hartley fringe benefits funds
  • Assists member companies in dealing with grievances and other disputes with the unions
  • Offers assistance with picketing and other organized labor activities
  • Provides advice and counsel on prevailing wage / Davis-Bacon Act issues
  • Union organizing, salting, labor negotiations
  • Affirmative action issues
  • Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Discrimination issues
  • Grievances and disputes and employment policy.



Legislative Focus

April 3, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 12

Federal Deductibility Debate Delayed Until Next Week
A very contentious public response coupled with fiscal impact reports from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau have temporarily delayed movement on a proposal to eliminate federal tax deductibility for individual income tax filers.  The bill, HF 807 was positioned to move out of the House on Thursday and debated today in the Senate, but plans changed when fiscal numbers showed that individuals in lower income tax brackets who did not itemize would face higher taxes.  The proposal was originally sold as a tax break for filers making less than $125,000. 


MBI member volunteers devote a significant amount of time and effort to communicate with other stakeholder groups, in the commercial construction industry, on industry relations committees and task forces. Working with and through owner, architect, engineer, and subcontractor groups, several very effective education tools have been developed through the years relative to the proper and legal administration of the competitive bid process. Of course, the goal is to improve industry performance through education, interaction and collaboration.

The Manual of Recommended Procedures for the Bidding and Award of Construction Contracts, and The Public Owners Guide to the Award of Public Sector Construction Contracts are two excellent examples of the Industry working together to educate owners and others in both the public and private procurement process. The Manual of Recommended Procedures lays out the industry standards on the proper ethics (do’s and don’ts) in a competitive bid process. Some of the ethical recommendations in this manual convert to legal requirements in the public sector.

Legislative Focus

March 27, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 11

Good Samaritan Legislation Passed by Both the House and Senate

SF 280 ensures that any person or firm that lends help in the time of a disaster can not be held liable for any civil damages.  This bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously and awaits the governor’s signature.

This concept was high on the list for MBI members from areas impacted by last summer’s severe weather.  As a result, MBI made passage of SF 280 a policy priority for 2009.  MBI appreciates the input provided by all members in helping this bill through the legislative process. 

Revenue Numbers Disrupt Schedule at the Capitol
Legislators are still reeling from last week’s revenue numbers.  If you recall additional revenue shortfalls for the current fiscal year are estimated to be $130 million forcing the governor and the legislature to find new cuts above and beyond the previous 1.5 percent across-the-board cuts (approximately $100 million) proposed earlier in the session.  Also, the legislature must reduce its budget targets for FY 2010 – which kicks in on July 1 – by an additional $270 million, which is in addition to the $133 million reduction previously considered. 

Legislative Focus

March 20, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 10

Bonding Bills Become Clearer – Sort of?
In what is shaping up to be a political showdown between the House and Senate Democrats and the governor, the legislature has offered its own multi-million dollar bonding proposal for vertical infrastructure, flood relief and prevention, and alternative energy.  In total, the proposal equals $700 million, payable by whatever means necessary as determined by the Legislature on an annual basis.  This differs from the governor’s $750 million proposal that used strictly gaming revenues (i.e. Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund - if you recall, the RIIF is the sole mechanism the state uses to fund vertical infrastructure projects).  Also, the legislative version runs counter to the governor’s proposal in that it excludes any funding for roads and bridges; something that MBI has been adamant about.

Legislative Focus...

March 6, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 8

Bonding Bill Covers $174 million in State-Funded Projects

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would provide over $174 million in infrastructure projects.  The debt service for the bonds will be approximately $13.9 million for 20 years and be paid through payments from the tobacco settlement funds owed to the state of Iowa.  If you recall, these projects were listed in last year’s Restrict Capitals Fund and were to be covered by securitizing the final 22 percent of the tobacco settlement funds due to the State of Iowa.  After the bond market crashed, the proceeds would have come up very short and available funds would not have covered the vertical infrastructure needs outlined in last year’s infrastructure appropriations bill. 

State Mandated Wages Bill Fails - But is Not Dead

The first round of the prevailing wage battle has been decided, in which HF 333 failed to garner one more vote to reach a constitutional majority (51 votes).  Prior to the voting machines being closed, as expected House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Des Moines) switched his vote to “no” and then filed a Motion to Reconsider on the failed bill.  This procedural action allows the bill to be brought up at any time in the event one of the original six House Democrats who voted against the original bill has a change of heart.  These six Democrats are being subjected to an extremely intense lobbying campaign by Governor Culver, House Democratic leadership, building trade unions and public sector unions.  So far they have stayed true to their word and are receiving a tremendous amount of support from their districts.

What Not to Do when the Union Comes a Calling .... No Blarney

In this article I will describe the practical things a quasi-union or a non union contractor can do if the union comes a calling. I have described the practical things you can do to avoid the campaign and subjects you can discuss to try to persuade the voters to vote your way. Now it’s time to discuss what not to do. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits promises or threats that are designed to force a person to vote either way in an election. If you step over the line employees who lose jobs including quitting will get back pay and a chance for reinstatement. If a strike occurs over such action this same penalty will apply and replacements will likely need to be terminated. An election can be set aside and a posting admitting guilt will be posted around your location.

Shearer News for the Iowa Construction Industry



While President Obama and John McCain were slugging it out on TV at town meetings and on Leno and Letterman, the Democratic congress gave us a taste of what is ahead. With little debate or fanfare, they gutted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and various Supreme Court and Federal cases. Congress was quickly in justifying this actions by stating “we did not like what the courts have done to the intent of the Act.”

New Guidelines for Iowa Supplemental General Conditions

The Link below is a copy of the “Guideline for Iowa Supplemental General Conditions” containing suggested modifications to the new AIA Document A201 (2007) General Conditions of the Contract for Construction. This Guideline addresses local issues in Iowa and is the result of the collaborative efforts of the American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter (AIA Iowa), Master Builders of Iowa (MBI) and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of Iowa (ACECI). Representatives from each of these organizations are members of the Iowa Construction Industry Forum (ICIF), a joint industry council formed to resolve industry-related issues. This Guideline offers modifications to AIA Document A-201 (2007) that we believe are more reflective of construction practices in the state of Iowa. It remains the collective intention of all three organizations to continue to improve business relationships with our clients, and we have mutually agreed to issue this Guideline to building owners for their use in establishing contractual requirements for their construction projects.