Government

Iowa House bill clarifies that electronic pay statements are legal

(FILE PHOTO) People walk down the staircase at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
(FILE PHOTO) People walk down the staircase at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — The Iowa House approved legislation Wednesday making clear that a practice used by many Iowa businesses to deliver pay statements to employees is indeed legal.

A “code modernization” bill was how floor manager Rep. Jarad Klein, R-Keota, described House File 2240 that says employers can deliver pay statement to employees electronically.

Current law says that “each regular payday, the employer shall send to each employee by mail or shall provide at the employee’s normal place of employment during normal employment hours” a statement.

However, the law also makes mention of employers giving employees access to an electronic statement as long as the employees have “free and unrestricted” access to a printer to print out their statements.

Still, there was some question if the law allowed employers to send paycheck information electronically, for sample, through email.

The situation came to light when a credit union was planning to switch from paper statements to electronic delivery through a secured server, explained Labor Committee Chairman Dave Deyoe, R-Nevada. Its legal counsel discovered it was not permitted.

Also, a payroll firm told lawmakers there was a need to clarify the law so it could deliver electronic statements to Medicaid recipients.

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“There are probably other things like this that people are doing that aren’t legal,” Deyoe said, “so we’re just trying to modernize the law.”

His House colleagues agreed, voting 98-0 to send the bill to the Senate for consideration where a companion bill, Senate File 2339, has been approved by the Labor and Business Relations Committee.

Under the bill, an employee who is unable to receive an electronic statement can receive it by mail or view it at work if “free and unrestricted” access to a printer is provided.

The House also voted 98-0 on a bill modernizing how people may pay traffic fines.

Representatives approved HF 2193 to give the Judicial Branch two years to develop an opt-in system for people to pay uncontested traffic fines by a text message.

The court system can use its existing electronic pay program or work with a vendor to develop the system, floor manager Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, said. People may continue to pay fines by mail or the courts’ website.

The House also:

• Voted 96-0 to approve HF 2196, a new section in Iowa Code for violations of the federal “hands-free” requirement for drivers with commercial driver’s licenses. Currently, commercial drivers stopped for using cellphones or other electronic devices that are not “hands-free” are charged with distracted driving under Iowa law. That is not accurate enough for federal purposes, Rep. Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake, said. The federal government assesses points against those license holders for violations.

The change also will allow Iowa to keep drawing down $35 million in federal funds, said Rep. John Forbes, D-Des Moines.

• Approved HF 2195 98-0 to synchronize the terms of members of the Transportation Commission with the state’s July 1 to June 30 fiscal year. Currently, new members join the board in May, just a month before being asked to approve a five-year transportation plan, Rep. Gary Mohr, R-Bettendorf, said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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