Workers’ comp, minimum wage laws changed

Tod Bowman
Iowa State Senator, 29th Dist.

     Senate Republicans recently approved two more bills that will hurt Iowa workers. The Branstad-Reynolds Administration signed them into law on Thursday, March 27.

     House File 518 cuts protections for Iowans hurt on the job through no fault of their own, reduces an employer’s liability for injuries, and encourages employers and insurance carriers to avoid on-time payment of claims.

     Proponents of the bill say Iowa has an unbalanced workers’ compensation system and that premiums are high. Here are the facts:

     Iowa has the third-best workers compensation system in the country.

     The Insurance Journal gives Iowa’s system an “A” grade.

     Premiums in Iowa have remained relatively stable.

     Iowa’s Economic Development Authority touts our low workers’ compensation premiums, which are 11 percent below the national average.

     Iowa’s work injury claims are down, dropping by more than 21 percent in the last eight years.

     House File 295 rolls back minimum wage increases already in force in four counties—including Polk,  Johnson, Linn and Wapello—and prevents cities and counties from making other decisions that would best serve their communities. This bill amounts to a pay cut for 65,000 Iowans.

     Iowa’s minimum wage has been at $7.25 since 2008, while 29 other states have raised their wages. Senate Republicans and the Branstad-Reynolds Administration, however, think they know more about community needs than the locally elected officials.

     They’ve decided local governments can no longer set better standards for minimum wage, hiring practices, leave, benefits, scheduling or other terms of employment. Any local laws will be void the minute the Governor signs the bill.

     The cost of living is not the same in all regions of Iowa, making a one-size-fits-all policy ineffective. If you compare Maquoketa to Iowa City, for example, there is a significant difference in cost of living. House File 295 is not the solution to Iowa’s economic issues. In fact, it’s a step backwards for thousands of Iowans.


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