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Legislative Update: Appropriations, WIA, Job Training

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Perkins Funding Still in Jeopardy

The continuing resolution (CR) passed by Congress last month is set to expire on December 16. Having passed three of the 12 appropriations bills, Congress must now pass the remaining nine bills or another CR. Their goal is to package all nine bills in an omnibus bill and pass it next week. However, if this does not happen, Congress can either pass another short-term CR to buy more time, or include all compromised bills in the omnibus and fund the remaining bills under a year-long CR.

Unfortunately, some of these bills, including Labor-HHS-Education, are so controversial that Congress may choose not work out a deal and instead will fund them under a year-long CR. If this happens, the 1.5% cut applied to Perkins Act advanced appropriations in a previous CR would remain. This would mean that states will not get that money back, and it would set the level for Perkins funding lower for next year. But, if a final Labor-HHS-Education bill is passed and it contains level funding for Perkins, then states will get that money back.

So, the fight is not yet over and we need your help! Call your Member of Congress today and encourage them to work to complete the remaining appropriations bills and to fund the Perkins Act at FY11 levels. You can reach the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senators’ and/or Representative’s office.

Bills Introduced

Workforce Investment Act

House Republicans introduced two bills this week that will serve as the basis for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization in the House.

Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act

Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC) introduced H.R. 3610, the Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act, which would consolidate 33 of the 47 job training programs identified in a 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office as duplicative into four flexible Workforce Investment Funds. These funds would focus on adults, youth, veterans and special populations. This bill would also require states and locals to set common performance measures for all employment and job training programs.

The Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act also allows states to submit a unified plan encompassing two or more job training and related programs. Both Perkins secondary and postsecondary programs are eligible to be a part of a state’s unified plan.

Local Job Opportunities and Business Success (Local JOBS) Act

Rep. Joe Heck (NV) introduced H.R. 3611, the Local Job Opportunities and Business Success (Local JOBS) Act. The goal of this bill is to ensure that the nation’s job training system can effectively provide workers with the skills necessary to compete in the local workforce. To that end, the bill would require that two-thirds of workforce investment board members be employers; that a portion of resources (as determined by the local WIB) be spent directly on training; and that local boards partner with higher education institutions and economic development organizations to better develop job training programs that address the needs of area businesses.

Bipartisan Jobs Creation Act

Senators Susan Collins (ME) and Claire McCaskill (MO) this week announced the Bipartisan Jobs Creation Act legislation which is aimed at creating jobs by cutting taxes for businesses, investing in transportation infrastructure, and consolidating federal job training programs. The bill would be paid for by a surtax on taxpayers earning more than $1 million per year and ending subsidies for oil companies. This bill includes two areas of interest:

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: FERPA, WIA, Race to the Top, ESEA

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Department Releases Final FERPA Regulations

The U.S. Department of Education released its final regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act yesterday after soliciting public comments earlier this year. In a statement released by the Department, they stated that “The regulations announced today will strengthen the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) by protecting the safety of student information, increasing the Department’s ability to hold those who misuse or abuse student data accountable and ensuring our taxpayer funds are invested wisely and effectively.”

We are still working through the regulations and will update you on anything that relates to CTE.

NSC Releases State-by-State Impact Analysis of Proposed Cuts to WIA

In their draft Labor-HHS-Education funding bill released last month, the House proposed to cut Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs by more than $1.9 billion for FY12. To help states better understand the impact of these cuts, the National Skills Coalition developed a state-by-state impact analysis of proposed cuts to the WIA Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth programs in FY12. Their analysis finds that as many as 6.5 million jobseekers would lose access to employment and training services if the House funding levels are enacted.

Seven States Apply for Third Round of Race to the Top Grants

As we told you last week, the nine runner-up states in the last round of Race to the Top grants are eligible to apply for the latest round of grants totaling $200 million. The seven states that submitted applications are: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. South Carolina did not submit an application, and California submitted an incomplete application, according to the Department of Education.

States will now have to submit a budget by December 16 for how they would use the grant and identify which part of their Round 2 application they want funded. The Department will announce the winners by the end of December.

Secretary Duncan Voices Concern about ESEA Draft

In a recent radio interview on Bloomberg EDU, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan expressed his concerns with the Senate’s draft ESEA bill. While the Department has been happy with the bipartisan process of crafting the bill, it is not happy with much of the bill’s content, especially teacher evaluation and accountability. However, Duncan hopes that this is just a starting point, and that the bill can be further strengthened:

“There are some good things in the bill, but you don’t want to walk away from accountability, you don’t want to walk away from focusing on achievement gaps, you don’t want to walk away from making sure we’re rewarding great teachers and great principals and shining a spotlight on excellence in education. So you want a good process, but at the end of the day you want really strong policy. And it’s early innings, obviously, in the bill that came out of the Senate HELP committee, and we think it can be strengthened going forward. So I applaud the work that’s gone on so far, clearly not a finished product, but a long way to go.”

 

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

 

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Appropriations, WIA, Bills Introduced

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Senate Reluctant to Vote on Education Funding Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) announced this week that he plans to bring three appropriations bills to the floor for a vote this month: Agriculture, Transportation-HUD and Commerce-Justice-Science. However, it is unlikely that the Labor-HHS-Education bill will go to the floor because Senate Republicans are opposed to it.

CTE Highlighted at House WIA Hearing

During Tuesday’s hearing, “Modernizing the Workforce Investment Act: Developing an Effective Job Training System for Workers and Employers,” members of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training heard a number of suggestions on how to improve the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

The consensus among witnesses was that the workforce system must be employer driven, flexible and respond to local needs. Witnesses were also concerned about the heavy burden the current system places on providers, as well as the level of federal involvement. “There is a high reporting burden, and in my mind, before you cut any dollar to the customer, you’ve got to cut down the bureaucracy,” said Kristen Cox, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Workforce Services.  

Jaime Fall, Vice President of Workforce and Talent Development Policy at the HR Policy Association, urged Congress to “ensure the skills developed through job training programs meet the needs of employers” by giving priority to “training resulting in employer recognized credentials that document skills.” Fall also voiced HR Policy Association’s support for CTE and Perkins-funded programs, saying:

Our members believe that career and technical education programs funded through the Perkins Act are a critical component of the overall national strategy to develop a skilled workforce. We encourage you to strongly support these programs as you discuss WIA, No Child Left Behind and the Perkins Act.

This is not the first time the HR Policy Association has showed their support for Perkins and CTE on Capitol Hill. This summer they sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging them to restore Perkins Act funding.

Bills Introduced

Ready to Compete Act

Rep. John Yarmuth (KY) has introduced H.R. 3036, the Ready to Compete Act, which would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Workforce Investment Act to award grants to prepare individuals for 21st century careers. The bill would update the Ready to Learn program under ESEA and create a new Ready to Earn program under WIA. These programs would encourage the use of technology and public television to expand the availability of workforce training programs, GED preparation, and adult education initiatives, while providing new resources for classroom instruction and school readiness efforts.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: House Appropriations, Community College Grants, ESEA Markup

Friday, September 30th, 2011

House Labor-HHS-Education Funding Bill Released

As we told you this morning, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education released a draft of their FY12 appropriations bill. The bill provides for $153.4 billion in discretionary spending, which is $4 billion below FY11 enacted levels. However, this is a much smaller cut than the $18 billion proposed in Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (WI) FY12 budget plan.

Perkins Act funding was maintained in the House’s current proposal, but not all education and workforce programs fared as well. The bill eliminates 31 programs from the Department of Education, including the Elementary and Secondary Counseling Act, High School Graduation Initiative, Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation grants, and FIPSE. The Pell grant maximum award was maintained at $5,550, but eligibility was eliminated for less-than–half-time students and the proposal would reduce the semesters that a student can receive the grant from 18 to 12.

Programs within the Department of Labor saw significant cuts, including:

The bill is not scheduled to be marked up by the Appropriations Committee, but these funding levels will likely be part of a House omnibus bill.

TAA Community College Grants Awarded

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter announced $500 million in Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants to 32 community colleges this week. The grants will be used for targeted training and workforce development to help dislocated workers obtain the skills they need to change careers. The grants support partnerships between community colleges and employers to develop programs that provide career pathways and build instructional programs that meet industry needs. Congress allocated $2 billion for the TAACCCT program to be awarded in each of fiscal years 2011-2014.  A list of grantees can be found here.

Senate ESEA Markup Scheduled

Senator Tom Harkin (IA), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced that they will markup an Elementary and Secondary Education Act bill on October 18. In a statement, Harkin said “This reauthorization is now more than four years overdue, and our students, schools, and communities cannot afford to wait any longer.” Draft language has not yet been released, but we will keep you posted on any further developments.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

 

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: Obama Jobs Plan, FY12 Appropriations, Bills Introduced

Friday, September 9th, 2011

President’s Jobs Package Focuses on Education

Last night, before a joint session of Congress, President Obama unveiled his proposal to create jobs and grow the economy. With unemployment hovering around 9%, the Administration hopes that this plan turn around the economy. Broadly, the American Jobs Act proposes to extend existing and implement new tax cuts, and invest in areas such as infrastructure, housing aid, and education. This $400 billion plan will be paid for using savings identified by the newly-appointed Congressional deficit reduction committee.

Related to education, and CTE in particular, there are some promising elements:

$35 billion to prevent public sector job layoffs – This includes educators, police officers and firefighters. Up to 280,000 education jobs are vulnerable to cuts this school year due to state budget troubles. The fund would support state and local efforts to retain teachers, counselors, tutors, and classroom assistants.
$30 billion school modernization fund – This fund would support efforts to modernize at least 35,000 public schools. The money could be used to update labs, renovate facilities and increase internet access. Priority will be given to rural schools and schools in the most need. The funding includes $5 billion dedicated to community colleges.
$5 billion for low-income youth and adults – This funding will focus on expanding employment opportunities for communities that have been hardest hit by the recession. Called the Pathways Back to Work Fund, it will make it easier for workers to remain connected to the workforce and gain new skills for long-term employment. This initiative will include:
o Support for summer and year-round jobs for youth
o Subsidized employment opportunities for low-income individuals who are unemployed
o Support for local efforts to implement promising work-based strategies and to provide training opportunities, including:
 Sector-based training programs
 Acquisition of industry-recognized credentials
 Career academies that provide students with academic preparation and training
 Free evening and weekend basic computer training classes, adult basic education and integrated basic education

FY 12 Appropriations
The House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education markup scheduled for this morning has been cancelled, with no new date announced. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) has said that the House will vote on a continuing resolution during the week of September 19 that it will likely run through November 18. Congress is hoping to finalize the appropriations process by that date and will use an omnibus appropriations bill, rather than separate bills by subcommittee.

In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee approved a funding level for Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee that is $17.9 billion above the $139.2 billion set by the House. While the $157.1 billion allocation for the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee is $23.7 billion below the Administration’s FY12 budget request and $300 million below FY1 levels, this is encouraging news. Despite the fiscal climate, it is clear that the Senate understands the importance of education programs.

Bills Introduced

Technical school training subsidy bill
Rep. John Barrow (GA) introduced H.R. 2851, a bill that would amend the Workforce Investment Act to establish a technical school training subsidy program. The bill would provide competitive grants to the states to provide funds to local workforce investment boards for technical school training subsidies in local areas through the One-Stop system. Subsidies received by individuals shall be used to assist them in paying the cost of tuition for career and technical education at a technical school.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Job Training Hearing, Jobs Plans

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

House Holds Job Training Hearing
On Tuesday the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a field hearing entitled, “Examining Local Solutions to Strengthen Federal Job Training Programs” in Las Vegas, Nevada. The hearing focused on the challenges facing the state and local economies, the role of job training services in providing greater career opportunities, and the need to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act. During the hearing, Leroy Walker, Vice President for Human Resources at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals said, “Training needs within healthcare are complex and have resulted in the need for organizations to ensure that staff is trained appropriately. Additionally, the partnering with various educational systems to ensure that their curriculum is in alignment with our needs has become more necessary than ever. As we each find the need for more and more healthcare, we must find a better more efficient way to ensure that staff is appropriately trained and prepared to provide the care we need.”

House Introduces Jobs Plan
Jobs are the top priority of both Congress and the Administration as Congress returns to Washington next week after a month-long recess. House Republicans announced their jobs plan on Monday. Central to this plan will be an effort to eliminate ten “job-destroying” regulations and tax relief for businesses. President Obama is scheduled to announce his own jobs plan next week, but it is unclear whether his package will include tax cuts, tax increases, additional stimulus spending, or some combination of all three.

Bills Introduced:

Local Jobs for America Act
Last week, Rep. George Miller (CA), Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee reintroduced H.R. 2828, the Local Jobs for America Act. The bill is similar to the bill he introduced during the last Congress. The bill will provide funds to local communities to hire individuals for public sector jobs. Funding would go directly to eligible local communities and nonprofit community organizations to decide how best to use the funds. The bill would also fund a $23 billion education jobs fund. In addition to public sector jobs, the bill would also fund approximately 50,000 private-sector positions, and would allow workers to obtain on the job training.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: House Hearing on Higher Ed and Jobs

Friday, August 19th, 2011

On Tuesday, the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training hosted a field hearing in South Carolina, “Reviving Our Economy: The Role of Higher Education in Job Growth and Development.” The hearing featured two panel discussions: The first examined the local economy and job opportunities, and the second focused on the ability of higher education institutions to successfully prepare graduates to join the workforce.

During the second panel, Dr. Keith Miller, President of Greenville Technical College, spoke about the importance of partnerships between education and employers to ensure economic success. His college is working with employers to bridge the skills gaps that exist industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and IT. Dr. Miller encouraged members to support WIA funding and talked about the benefit of dual enrollment programs. While he did not speak about Perkins specifically, it is important that the subcommittee heard about the skills gaps that exist and the need to train workers to fill existing jobs. Hearing this message from constituents reinforces the message that we take the Hill with us – that Perkins funding and CTE programs are the key drivers in training these workers and closing the skills gap.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: No Debt Deal Yet, Duncan Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee, WIA Postponed, No Timeline for ESEA, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 29th, 2011

No Deal Yet

Debt ceiling talks picked up this week as scores from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on debt legislation were released. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (NV) plan would reportedly cut the deficit by $2.2 trillion, more than Speaker Boehner’s (OH) legislation.

While support for Boehner’s plan seemed to increase throughout the week, the GOP could not persuade enough members to support the measure last night and a vote on Boehner’s bill was postponed indefinitely. Many Senators contend that the bill would be quickly rejected if and when it makes it to the Senate floor.

Congress has until next Tuesday, August 2nd to come to a deal before the country hits its default deadline.

Duncan Testified at Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

At a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing this week, Senators were surprised to learn that spending at the Department of Education increased by 20 percent over the last two years. Education secretary Arne Duncan revealed that the increased spending was mostly due to the rise in Pell grant use, a conversation that dominated most of yesterday’s hearing. Duncan also brought up the Race to the Top and I3 funds as priorities, though several members questioned these approaches. Duncan stressed that all students need a well-rounded education and that youth and adults need “new skills for the jobs of tomorrow” but there was no mention of Career Technical Education as a method of delivering these goals.

View a webcast of the hearing here.

WIA Markup Postponed

The August 3rd markup of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) has been removed from the Senate calendar. A new date has not been set.

No Timeline Set for ESEA

Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), chairman of the Senate’s Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, was unable to give a timeline this week when asked about a schedule for marking up the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bill. Harkin stated that his discussions with the HELP committee’s top Republican, Sen. Michael Enzi (WY), are progressing but they still disagree on major issues like accountability, teachers and comparability. While Harkin would like to see a bipartisan ESEA bill passed, this seems very unlikely to happen before the start of the new school year.

For the first time since Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s controversial offer to grant waivers to states on aspects of the old law, Sen. Harkin suggested that he may be open to Duncan’s waiver idea if no progress is made on reauthorizing ESEA.

Bills Introduced:

Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act

Rep. Judy Chu (CA) and Rep. David Loebsack (IA) reintroduced H.R. 2637, the Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act to encourage collaboration among communities, schools and social-service programs to find solutions for challenges faced by struggling students to reduce dropout rates. The bill would award grants to states, who would award subgrants to local consortia. Grantees may, but are not required to, use funds to implement dual enrollment programs, early college high schools, and strategies for dropout prevention. Grants may also be used to fund opportunities for job training, career counseling, internships, and Career Technical Education.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: House Committee Passes ESEA Flexibility Bill; WIA Markup Rescheduled; Debt Talks Continue; All Children Are Equal Act; and Veterans Opportunity to Work Act

Friday, July 15th, 2011

House Committee Passes 3rd ESEA Bill

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved this week the third in a series of five bills designed to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The third bill, the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, passed the Committee despite strong opposition from Democrats and accusations of civil rights violation. Read more.

Workforce Investment Act

The Senate showed an effort to move forward with reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) last month when they released a discussion draft for comment. However, markup of the bill continues to be pushed back and is now scheduled to occur on August 3rd.

Debt Talks

With only two weeks left to take action, Congress still struggles to compromise on the debt ceiling. Republican House leaders will vote next week on a plan that would increase the debt ceiling if Democrats agree to $2.4 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years, in addition to passing a balanced budget amendment.

Obama disagrees with the Republican House plan, saying that “I have not seen a credible plan that would allow you to get to $2.4 trillion without really hurting ordinary folks.” The President continues to urge Congress to create a plan before a default occurs in early August.

Senator Mitch McConnell (KY) and Senator Harry Reid (NV) are working together to outline a plan that would give President Obama authority over the debt ceiling but would also demand its incremental increase.

Bills Introduced:

All Children Are Equal Act (ACE)

Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA) introduced H.R. 2485, the All Children Are Equal Act, to increase Title I funding through ESEA for rural districts with high numbers of low-income families. Currently, Title I funds are distributed through a complicated formula based on the size and concentration of poverty in a district. The formula often results in large, urban districts receiving much larger shares of funding than poor, rural districts. Thompson’s bill would place less weight on population to increase the formula’s focus on student poverty. The bill aims to provide more equitable distribution of funds for disadvantaged students in rural areas.

Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011

Rep. Jeff Miller (FL) introduced H.R. 2433, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, a bill to provide retraining assistance for veterans through community college or technical schools. The bill would require attendees to participate in a full-time program leading to an associates degree or certificate and a job in a high-demand field.

By Kara in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Higher Education Regulations in Effect, Debt Talks Continue, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Higher Education Regulations Proposed by Dept. of Ed. in Effect

In June, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved H.R. 2117, the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act, to repeal unnecessary credit hour and state authorization regulations to protect institutions of higher education and students from excessive burdens (See NASDCTEc’s blog “House Approves Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act”).

As a series of higher education regulations proposed by the Department of Education were recently put into effect, those in opposition are expressing their disapproval. Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce stated “These regulations are just another example of federal intrusion into areas best left to states and education leaders. At a time when individuals should be encouraged to pursue higher education, the department has created new regulations that will deny access to important education programs and weaken the nation’s workforce.” To read the House Education and the Workforce’s summary of the issue, click here.

Debt Ceiling Talks Update

President Obama echoed yesterday a statement that he has made before about the deficit-reduction talks: “Nothing is agreed to until everything’s agreed to.”

While Obama continues to meet with both Republican and Democratic leaders, no deal has been made. The President called yesterday’s talks “very constructive” and said that Congress would continue work over the weekend to achieve a deal. In an effort to compromise with Republicans, Obama is urging Democrats to consider a plan that would require big changes for Social Security and Medicare in exchange for increased revenues.

The U.S. Treasury imposed an August 2nd deadline for a deal before a default will occur. Leaders will continue to meet over the weekend to work on a deal.

Bills Introduced:

State and Local Funding Flexibility Act

Yesterday, Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee John Kline introduced H.R. 2445, the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, which would give states and school districts much greater flexibility in funneling federal funds toward local education priorities. The bill is the third in a series of five bills that the Committee has proposed as a part of ESEA reauthorization. A summary of the bill is available here. NASDCTEc will provide more information on the bill as it becomes available.

Put America to Work Act

Rep. Ellison (MN) introduced H.R. 2368, the Put America to Work Act of 2011, that would direct the Secretary of Labor to make grants to state, locals and tribes with the purpose of creating job opportunities for unemployed and underemployed residents in distressed communities.

Preserve State/Institution Authority on Authorization and Credit Hour

Sen. Burr (NC) introduced S. 1297, a bill that would preserve state and institutional authority relating to state authorization and the definition of a credit hour. This bill contests a package of regulations recently put into effect by the U.S. Department of Education to create a federal definition of a credit hour and also requires increased authorization for institutes of higher education. See also “Higher Education Regulations” article above for more information.

Bill to Amend WIA and Promote Manufacturing

Sen. Rockefeller (WV) introduced S. 1329, a bill to amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to create a pilot program that would facilitate the provision of education and training programs in the field of advanced manufacturing. The bill has been read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

By Kara in Public Policy
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