Business leaders joined the Business Record’s 2023 Legislative Forecast event on Jan. 10 to provide a deeper look into the legislative priorities of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Iowa Business Council and the Technology Association of Iowa this session.

In addition to conversations about multiple workforce topics, TAI President Brian Waller spotlighted the need for legislation on cybersecurity and data privacy to help ensure Iowa businesses and consumers are protected against rising cyber threats.

Watch the full event replay

Here are excerpts of what Waller shared during the event.

Data privacy
For us as we think about what’s the biggest impact that could negatively impact Iowa’s business community, it is cybersecurity threats. … I’ll briefly mention three bills, a couple that we brought up last session. One is the consumer data privacy bill. That’s HF2506. Other states are going at it, the federal government seems to not have an appetite to do some data privacy regulations federally, so states are going at it alone. What that bill basically means for us is when a company owns your data you have the right to ask, “What data do you have of mine and what are you doing with that data?”

If you think about ransomware … when somebody holds a gun to your head and says, “We have this data, give us X amount of dollars.” Think about a school district. They have to deal with all these headaches of educating students, getting them software and hardware, and now they have to talk about cybersecurity, so I believe there is a role for government to educate companies and have dollars set aside for this sort of moment. We talk about computer science and K-12 education but we woke up this morning talking about cybersecurity and how that impacts folks.

Legal protection
The final bill I’ll talk about is the affirmative defense bill. We would like some legislation that says to a company, “Look, if you followed these guidelines and you were breached and data was hacked from you, you are protected by the law because you followed these guidelines.” These are just three bills that you’re seeing, but every session you’re going to see cybersecurity, much like workforce, over and over become top of mind.

Top workforce-related priority
In regards to workforce, obviously a high-skilled workforce is a need here in the state of Iowa, so for us, leaning into connectivity and digital equity. For us that means every community, every household has access to the highest-speed internet in the state of Iowa. Because we know people are getting skilled up and educated through that medium but also they’re doing their jobs through high speed internet. Along those lines also, we want to support initiatives that are nontraditional educational programs that skill people up and get them into the workforce quicker than maybe a couple years or four-year degree, so we’re really looking at that.

Part of the federal government infrastructure act has a digital equity as part of that so the state of Iowa will be receiving some grant dollars to the tune of millions of dollars to shorten that digital equity divide and try to continue that broadband expansion that the governor has done a couple years ago. Finally, we like to think that creativity is not solely for the arts. Creativity can be in business and we also think creativity can be in legislation, so is there a moonshot to recruit people to the state of Iowa and potentially getting them an income tax break or some sort of tax incentive to move them here with a job or connect them with an Iowa job. … Let’s get creative in trying to make Iowa a special place to work and have people be attracted to the state.