Anti-trafficking law impacts lodging providers, ISU employees

ISU employees must add a step to their to-do list for reserving lodging during travel in the state.

As of Jan. 1, all in-state lodging providers must complete the state Department of Public Safety's human trafficking prevention training to receive public funds for state employee lodging, conferences, meetings, banquets or any state-funded event.


The law doesn't create additional paperwork for employees. Questions can be directed to

"It impacts employees who use state funds to pay for lodging," said Heather Paris, associate vice president central finance and finance delivery. "It really focuses on general funds and state grants. This does not apply to out-of-state travel."

The law (Iowa Code 80.45A) -- which applies to all state agencies -- was passed in 2020 and impacts approximately 1,500 businesses in Iowa that pay Iowa hotel/motel taxes. If a lodging provider is not certified when state funds are used, employees will not be reimbursed for expenses.

The biggest impact will be felt by ISU Extension and Outreach staff, who frequently travel across the state, Paris said. 

Airbnb and Vrbo locations must be certified because individual hosts are considered lodging providers. The law also requires compliance for conferences, meetings or banquets if the provider has lodging, regardless of whether an employee stays there.

Funds that can be used with a noncertified provider include federal sources, states other than Iowa and donations.

Additional information, including an FAQ, is available on the controller's department website with links also on the finance service delivery and procurement  services websites. 

How to know

Determining if a lodging provider has completed certification is a mouse-click away. A website lists all certified locations across the state and is updated daily.

Procurement services is contacting all lodging providers the university has contracts with to encourage compliance. Employees who do not see their desired location on the certification list are asked to contact it and encourage compliance before making a reservation.

The online training for employees of lodging providers began in December and is available 24/7. It consists of watching a video in English or Spanish before completing a test. Once every employee has passed the test, the state sends a certificate that providers are asked to prominently display.

All employees of the lodging provider must pass the test before certification can happen, Paris said. "Being up against the holidays made it a bit of a challenge to get to all of their employees, but more locations are being added every day," she added.

About 270 lodging providers are certified, including the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames, which the university often uses when hosting guests.

All procurement/expense specialists are being trained on the new law and are responsible for reviewing expense reports to ensure compliance.