2022 Legislative Wrap-Up of Partnership Policy Priorities
Each year the Greater Des Moines partnership works with its Government Policy Council (GPC) to develop the 2022 State Policy Agenda. Within the agenda The Partnership elevates a handful of legislative priorities in which to focus advocacy and lobbying efforts. Based on the work of GPC and the feedback of Partnership Investors and Members, these top priorities are typically where the policy team focuses its time and energy when the Iowa Legislature gavels in each January. From there, each issue and piece of legislation consists of a series of conversations and decisions to help us determine how we can best represent the needs of the Greater Des Moines (DSM) business community.
Thanks to the leadership of the GPC — Chair Onnalee Gettler, Director of Government Affairs at MidAmerican Energy Company, Vice Chair Bob Haus, State Government Affairs Manager of Corteva Agriscience and the many leaders who spent time developing the state policy agenda – The Partnership can point to both legislative successes in 2022 and opportunities to continue the conversation in 2023. All this work is supported by the team at Nyemaster Goode, P.C., who focus on the day-to-day at the Capitol.
When Did We Start?
At the start of the 2022 Legislative Session, The Partnership revealed the 2022 State Policy Agenda and outlined the following key priorities:
Des Moines International Airport Terminal Project
The Partnership supports state funding for the Des Moines International Airport's terminal project. It is critical to invest in a modernized airport to accommodate the state's economic growth and ensure a safe and smooth traveling experience for business and commercial passengers.
The Partnership supports strategies to address the existing talent shortages felt by many impacted industries, including continued and expanded support for Future Ready Iowa initiatives, opportunities to engage untapped talent for the workforce such as foreign born and returning citizens and policies that ensure Iowa continues to be a welcoming place that is open for business.
Pro-Growth Tax Policies
The Partnership supports a tax structure that encourages business growth through predictability and protection of existing tax exemptions and economic development tools, a decrease in the corporate income tax rate, funding of Iowa's Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund and an option for a transit hotel-motel tax.
The Partnership supports the creation of a large-scale investment program designed to transform Iowa's communities, main streets and local economies through creative placemaking and community development. Projects such as the ICON Water Trails, the Pro Iowa Soccer Stadium and Global Plaza, and others are key Partnership priority projects that benefit the entire DSM region.
The Partnership supports the recommendations of the Iowa Skills2Complete Coalition and the Governor's Child Care Task Force to increase affordable access to quality child care and promote stabilization in the child care workforce.
The Partnership supports the increase of workforce housing options through policies that leverage federal, state and local resources to address the existing housing shortage throughout Iowa. The Partnership supports an increase in the Workforce Housing Tax Credit, the State Housing Trust Fund and additional incentives for communities and employers to invest in new and existing housing for all Iowans.
The Partnership supports continued investment in broadband infrastructure to ensure Iowa can recruit and retain businesses and talent and help existing businesses grow and be successful through remote work and flexible work arrangements.
How Did It Go?
The Partnership can point to several key successes when it comes to the 2022 Legislative Session. Also included below are funding allocations awarded during the same time frame, supporting the progress of Key Partnership priorities.
Des Moines International Airport Terminal Project
Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Governor Kim Reynolds allocated nearly $60 million to the Des Moines International Airport to modernize airport facilities.
The Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship was amended to allow all students who enroll part-time, regardless of age, to qualify in House File 2165.
Pro-Growth Tax Policies
Governor Reynolds signed a large tax cut, House File 2317, into law. The legislation closely mirrored the Governor's initial tax proposal outlined in her Condition of the State address in early January 2022. The various provisions of the legislation will be phased into law between now and 2026, including decreases in the corporate income tax rate, individual income tax rate, retirement income tax rates and more. Read a "Quick Guide to Iowa's new Tax Structure."
As part of The Partnership's priorities, diversification of funding for public transit was included. House File 2579 directs the Iowa Department of Transportation to establish a Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority Alternative Funding Advisory Committee to study funding options as an alternative to increasing property taxes.
Through ARPA funding, Governor Reynolds created Destination Iowa, a $100 million investment program designed to transform Iowa's communities, main streets and local economies through community placemaking projects. Additionally, using ARPA funds, Governor Reynolds allocated $15 million to the ICON Water Trails Project. The funds will be used to mitigate the dam on Fleur Drive and remove safety hazards, helping lay the infrastructure for this larger community placemaking project.
The creation of a new $2 million annual Employer Child Care Tax Credit for employers providing child care benefits to employees, as part of House File 2564.
Through ARPA, Governor Reynolds allocated $25 million to create a new Child Care Business Incentive Grant program, a recommendation in the Governor's Child Care Task Force that will increase affordable access to quality child care and promote stabilization in the child care workforce.
The creation of the Housing Renewal Pilot Program to help acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties to address blight was appropriated $500,000 for FY 23.
Since 2018, the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program has awarded more than $384 million in funding to expand broadband infrastructure throughout Iowa. Most recently, Governor Reynolds allocated $210 million in ARPA funds to the program, which were awarded in January 2022.
Governor Reynolds has 30 days following session to sign or veto legislation that was passed in the final three days before adjournment. With the second year of the 89th General Assembly concluded and with elections in November from newly drawn districts, a new slate of legislators from around Iowa will be making their way to Des Moines in January 2023.
During the interim, The Partnership policy team continues discussions with legislators, the Governor’s office and Partnership Investors and Members to determine priorities going into 2023. The Partnership Government Policy Council will meet to draft the 2023 State Policy Agenda, identifying goals that continue to support Iowa’s reputation as a welcoming state that is open for business.
To learn more about key priorities of The Partnership, listen to the DSM USA Policy HQ podcast. Episodes covering broadband, child care, housing, ARPA and more can be found here.
Andrea Woodard is the senior vice president of government relations and public policy at the Greater Des Moines Partnership.