IGIA Board Meets Then Heads to Capitol in March


IGIA Board Meets Then Heads to Capitol in March

In March, the Iowa Grocery Industry Association Board of Directors met at the Iowa Motor Truck Association, located on Court Ave. just down the street from the Iowa State Capitol, for the first board meeting of 2019. 

Improving Licensing and Inspection Processes

After the meeting, board members heard from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. Mark Speltz, the new bureau chief, and Larry Johnson, the new director, shared important changes to the DIA’s Food and Consumer Safety Bureau. They explained how funds from the passage of SF2930 last year, which provided a licensing fee increase, will be used to improve licensing and inspection processes. The bureau identified four areas of focus:

Application Processing—Johnson explained how the bureau will make applying for a new license or having a licensed renewed easier and more efficient by:

  • Adding a part-time position to concentrate on renewals;
  • Cross training staff and consolidating all bureau-licensing activities under one program lead; and
  • Allocating additional personnel time to review facility plans.

Inspection Uniformity and Consistency—The bureau has also created two inspection supervisor positions that will:

  • Supervise inspection activities, each in half of the state, and
  • Monitor inspection quality and uniformity.

Inspection Capacity—The bureau will beef up inspection capacity by shifting some assignments currently performed by line inspectors to focus their time on core inspection responsibilities and allow time for additional retail education by:

  • Adding new inspector positions (one at first up to three over time)
  • Having inspection supervisors provide overflow capacity focused on preoperational inspections and complaint investigations

Technical Expertise—Increase the technical expertise of the bureau by:

  • Creating a position that will lead statewide, on-site activities during foodborne outbreak investigations and provide technical expertise to small food manufacturers to assist these operations in introducing local value-added food to the marketplace.
  • Adding inspection supervisors will free the bureau’s technical experts from quasi-supervisory activities allowing them to focus on providing technical expertise to food establishments and DIA’s local contracting health departments

Meeting Lottery CEO Matt Strawn

New Iowa Lottery CEO Matt Strawn also addressed the group. The former Chairman of the Iowa Republican Party shared a little about his background and priorities for the Lottery in the years ahead.

Before agreeing to head the Iowa Lottery, Strawn was the managing director and a principal of Next Generation Public Affairs, a Chicago-based, full-service public affairs firm providing clients with comprehensive and technologically sophisticated government affairs, issues advocacy and media relations strategies.

Strawn also acted as president of Strawn Company, which held and managed interests in the agriculture, real estate, sports and entertainment, and technology sectors. It also included a Des Moines, Iowa-based strategic communications consulting firm.

Stawn has appeared as a guest expert on national media programs such as NBC’s Meet the Press, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox News Sunday and MSNBC’s Morning Joe. His commentary and insights have been featured in Bloomberg, The New York Times, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

A graduate of the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law (J.D. 2003), Strawn graduated first in his class; the University of Iowa (B.A. 1996); and, Benton Community High School (Van Horne, Iowa), where he is a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He is the former co-owner of the Iowa Barnstormers Arena Football League franchise and is a member in good standing of the Maryland State Bar Association. Strawn and his wife, Erin, have three children. They reside in Des Moines’ historic East Village.

Board Members Head to the Capitol

Afterward, board members and government-relations professionals from our industry made their way to the Capitol to discuss issues of concern to grocery and convenience retailers and suppliers. 

Legislators were engaged in floor debate as grocers kept appointments with Senate President Charles Schneider, House Speaker Linda Upmeyer and Majority Leader Chris Hagenow.

Grocers and convenience retailers shared their positions on bottle redemption, asking legislative leaders to support removing the mandate for retailers to collect bottles and cans. 

They also expressed support for passage of a Service Animals bill that will clarify what constitutes a service animal, bring Iowa into alignment with federal guidelines and make it illegal to impersonate a service animal. In addition, grocers supported and thanked legislators for moving along an Alcohol Bill that will solve the problems of cross-tier employment and institutional investments for our industry. The bill was headed to the Governor’s desk for her signature. Afterward, grocers returned to IMTA for a sack lunch before heading home.

In place of the traditional Grocers Care Event, the IGIA will endeavor to achieve the remainder of our legislative goals, in part, by hosting regional private store tours for legislators. 

IGIA President Michelle Hurd says a private store tour exclusively for area legislators allows them to see firsthand how the issues of the day impact retailers.