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Legislative Updates

Reauthorization of the Federal Workforce Investment Act

At the state level, Senate Joint Resolution 10 (Lieu) was introduced that urges Congress to reauthorize the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and include policies and strategies that support the local workforce investment community. The California Workforce Association (CWA), through its lobbyist Rose & Kindel, worked with the Senator to draft language for this bill and is a supporter of this bill.

The U.S. Senate bi-partisan proposal for the reauthorization of WIA (S. 1356) was introduced on July 24. The co-authors, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga), who were co-authors of last year’s bill, are working to build support from both sides of the aisle. On July 31, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee marked-up the bill and then passed it the same day on an 18-3 vote. The bill proposes some consolidation of programs into a single fund, the streamlining of cumbersome administrative burdens, more control for state and local boards to customize programs to meet local needs, improved performance measures that are based on real-world data and a business majority on state and local boards. Concerns have been expressed that the consolidation of programs into a single block grant, similar to the House Republican proposal, may erode services for target populations and impact overall funding for the local workforce investment system. The House Republican proposal also favors a 2/3 majority of employers on local boards (up from the current simple majority), while Democrats favor more representation from organized labor and target populations served. The House has already passed its Republican-led proposal, H.R. 803 (Foxx,et.al). The full Senate is expected to take up S.1356 after the August recess.

Federal Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY14 Labor-HHS appropriations bill that increases the statewide set-aside under WIA from 5 to 7.5 percent, increases funding for the Veteran's Employment and Training Service by $37 million and increases the Pell grant to $5,785. This differs substantially from the House allocation proposal that is approximately 19 percent lower than the FY13 sequester level and 26 percent lower than the Senate allocations, which could have a devastating impact on the local workforce investment system. 

More Changes in Administration at U.S. Department of Labor

On July 18, the U.S. Senate confirmed Mr. Thomas Perez as Secretary of Labor. Mr. Perez currently serves as the U.S. Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for civil rights and previously as Secretary of Labor for the state of Maryland. Mr. Perez has indicated that his main focus will be on jobs and the reauthorization of the federal Workforce Investment Act.

Ms. Gerri Fiala has been named Acting Assistant Secretary for the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), replacing Jane Oates. Ms. Fiala is a career professional and first joined the Labor Department back in 1986 as chief of the Policy and Planning Unit in ETA's Office of Strategic Planning and later served as staff director to the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety.

Mr. Eric Seleznow has been appointed as deputy assistant secretary for DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA).  Mr. Seleznow’s background includes over thirty years of experience in workforce development, specifically, work on the Skill2Compete program in Maryland and as the state policy director for the National Skills Coalition. 

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