CM Perspective: A Capitol Idea


CM Perspective: A Capitol Idea

The Iowa Truss Manufacturer’s Association (ITMA) has a long history of reaching out to our state lawmakers in Des Moines, building relationships and advocating for issues that affect our businesses. From our status as a “right to work” state to prevailing and minimum wages issues, we’ve been successful in the past in helping our Iowa legislators understand how changes they proposed would negatively impact our ability to attract and retain an adequate workforce.

This year, a big topic of conversation was tax policy. The GOP control both chambers of our legislature, as well as the governor’s office, so there are a lot of questions around the extent to which Iowa’s tax laws will be harmonized with the significant changes made at the federal level this year. There are a lot of reforms that are very good for small business manufacturers, but the overall changes will decrease our state’s ability to collect taxes at their current levels (at least, in the short run). That leaves our lawmakers to decide what federal tax laws they will conform with, and which ones they won’t.

Discussing the impact of tax policy is a really valuable exercise, but what had an even more immediate impact was a conversation with my state senator about local high schools. 

I told him I had recently given a presentation to a group of students at the local high school in Cascade who were surprised to learn we were more than just a lumber yard and offered a wide variety of potential careers. My state senator is an educator and works at the high school in Maquoketa, and he became very interested in helping to bring me in to talk with their students as well.

I certainly didn’t anticipate my time at the Iowa State Capitol would have such a direct impact on my company’s workforce development efforts, but it made the whole trip immediately worth the effort. If you and your state chapter aren’t actively engaged with your state legislature, I’d encourage you to consider doing so. The relationship building takes time and persistence, but it makes a big difference. Unlike members of Congress, it’s a lot easier to relate with your state lawmakers and get one-on-one time with them. Go to them when they’re in session, and invite them on a tour of your plant when they aren’t. You never know when that relationship will open a door you didn’t realize was there. 

Tim Noonan is President of Cascade Mfg Co in Cascade, Iowa. He serves on the Board of Directors for both the Iowa Chapter and SBCA national.