Weekly Update: March 16, 2017

If You Want to Make America Great Again, You Have to Make Work Cool Again

Mike Rowe nailed it on Tucker Carlson’s show earlier this month after he testified on Capitol Hill about the skills gap, student loan crisis, and high school vocational education.  Check out the video, it is dead on.  He also had a cameo in a great video “Trade Workers Deserve More Respect” – check it out here.

Legislative Report March 10, 2017

The HBAI Legislative Committee did not meet last Friday, but here is the report for the week.  HF3 Statute-of-Repose has not hit the House floor yet.  It passed the Senate (SF413) March 8.

SSB1145/SF438 – Project Labor Agreements:  This just passed the Senate.  From reports by MBI and ABC: It addresses concerns raised by non-union contractors about project labor agreements, which are a collective bargaining arrangement with one or more labor unions for a construction project. Such agreements have been used for some major public works projects in Iowa, including the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, the new Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, and the reconstruction and expansion of the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville.

Supporters of project labor agreements say they ensure that workers are paid fair wages and that construction work is completed on time and on budget. Non-union contractors contend project labor agreements impede open, fair and competitive bidding in taxpayer-funded construction projects by requiring union construction workers. They also say such agreements effectively impede the majority of the construction workforce from taxpayer-funded projects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 85 percent of the private construction workforce in Iowa is non-union.

Greg Spenner, president and chief executive of Associated Builders and Contractors of Iowa, said in a statement that the legislation bill is a first step towards evening the playing field for publicly-funded construction projects in Iowa. By ensuring that project labor agreements cannot be mandated on publicly-funded construction projects, Iowa’s taxpayers can know their local school, city hall or other publicly-funded project is being built safely and with the most qualified local workforce at the most competitive price, he said.

Workers’ Compensation Reforms – Both the House and Senate Republicans passed companion bills in the House (HSB 169) and Senate (SSB1170) Commerce Committees that would bring balance to current workers’ compensation laws. They are now HF518 and SF435.  The bills are very comprehensive and create reforms to the following topics:

  • Intoxication Defense – Puts the burden on the employee who tests positive
  • No Private Cause of Action – Makes clear that employee cannot sue employer for work-related injury outside of work comp statute
  • Date of Injury – Defines date of injury as the date that employee knew or should have known that an injury was work related
  • Suitable Work – Spells out in law as to what should be considered “suitable work”, rather than leaving to court interpretation
  • Permanent Disabilities – Changes the commencement date for permanent disability benefits to the date the employee reaches maximal medical improvement.
  • Shoulder Scheduled Member – Puts shoulder on the list of scheduled member injuries
  • Body as a Whole Injuries – Terminates permanent total disability benefits at 67.  Also provides that when an injured employee comes back to work, the employee is compensated for functional loss and not a speculative industrial disability award.
  • Functional Impairment – Clarifies that scheduled member injuries should be compensated pursuant to functional impairment under AMA Guidelines
  • Double Recover Prohibited for permanent partial disability benefits and permanent total disability benefits
  • Permanent Total Disability, providing that an employee cannot be adjudicated to be permanently and totally disabled when they remain productively working
  • Credit for Overpayment – In the event of overpayment, employer can take deduct from future benefits for the amount
  • Successive Disabilities – Provides that employers are not liable for pre-existing disabilities, and are only liable for injuries incurred under current job
  • Examination of Injured Employees – If an employee refuses to attend doctor’s appointments, then future benefits could be forfeited
  • Commutations – Changes would provide that both parties must consent to full or partial commutation of weekly indemnity benefits
  • Allowing Commutations with Open Medical
  • Causation Standard – States that employee’s work activities must be the predominant factors (greater than 50%) in causing the injury
  • Jurisdiction – Restricts those who can claim Iowa benefits to those who actually work in Iowa
  • Attorney Fees – Provides that an attorney can only take a fee on benefits they secure for injured worker
  • Interest on Judgements – States that interest on WC judgments should be Treasury plus two

Here is a list of positions taken as of March 10, 2017.

Builder Confidence at 12 Year High

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped six points to 71 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the highest reading since June 2005.  “Builders are buoyed by President Trump’s actions on regulatory reform, particularly his recent executive order to rescind or revise the waters of the U.S. rule that affects permitting,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald.

“While builders are clearly confident, we expect some moderation in the index moving forward,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Builders continue to face a number of challenges, including rising material prices, higher mortgage rates, and shortages of lots and labor.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components posted robust gains in March. The component gauging current sales conditions increased seven points to 78 while the index charting sales expectations in the next six months rose five points to 78.  Meanwhile, the component measuring buyer traffic jumped eight points to 54.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Midwest increased three points to 68 and the South rose one point to 68. The West dipped three points to 76 and the Northeast edged one point lower to 48.

Member Advantage Discounts

Your 3-in-1 membership includes an exclusive program from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) called Member Advantage. This offers you ways to reduce expenses, increase efficiency, and maximize profits through discounts on products and services with leading, national companies. To learn more about these discounts and how to access the savings go to NAHB Member Discounts. Click here for an overview of all discounts.

4th Annual Doug Mayo Memorial Golf Tourney Registration Now Open

Please join us for the 4th Annual Doug Mayo Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday June 30th, 2017. Click here to register.

Scholarship Deadline

The HBAI Education Corporation annually awards scholarships to students entering the building trades.  If you know of a student, the deadline to apply is March 31.  Follow this link for more information and the application.

Travel Discounts

We recently announced a new member benefit – discounts on travel.  So far they have been significantly less expensive than any other travel site.  It’s a $99 value, but costs you nothing as a member.  Pass it on to family and friends too.

With your FREE Snazzy Traveler membership (valued at $99) you gain access to unlimited savings on thousands of hotels, cars, cruises, activities and more all year long.  Go to:


Enter our exclusive promo code: HBAIowaTravel2017

When you enter in our code, you have to hit that “redeem” icon or else it acts like it wants credit card info and a $99 payment.

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