On October 4, Minority Members of the House Education and Labor Committee, led by Ranking Member Buck McKeon (R-CA), introduced the Workforce Investment Improvement Act (H.R. 3747). The legislation builds on WIA reauthorization proposals of previous years, and closely resembles H.R. 27, which the House passed in 2005. Rep. McKeon later released a statement urging the House to move forward on WIA reauthorization. Read his news release at republicans.edlabor.house.gov/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=270. According to staff in the House Education and Labor Committee's Majority Office, work on a WIA reauthorization is currently at a standstill. Committee insiders believe that consideration of WIA reauthorization will not take place this year.
H.R. 3747 would consolidate dislocated worker and adult funding streams, but keep the youth funding stream separate. The bill would make faith-based programs eligible for WIA funds, a major area of contention that contributed to the delay in the passage of previous WIA reauthorization bills. The bill would make youth councils optional and make local and state education officials mandatory partners on the Workforce Investment Boards. The bill would remove any income eligibility requirements for enrolling out-of-school youth and allow programs to enroll in-school youth who are eligible for the Federal Free or Reduced Lunch. The bill would increase the minimum percentage of youth activity funds that must be spent on out-of-school youth from 30 percent to 50 percent. H.R. 3747 would replace the Youth Opportunities Grant program with youth challenge grants. The bill would automatically fund these grants by setting aside 25 percent of allocated WIA youth activities formula funds, up to a maximum of $250 million. Youth challenge grants would be open to all areas, without a requirement to focus on distressed communities serving high numbers of disadvantaged youth.
To read NYECĂ??Ă?Â˘??s updated WIA side-by-side, visit http://nyec.modernsignal.net/content/documents/WIASidebySideOct07.pdf.
The House Education and Labor Committee continues its work on a draft of WIA reauthorization. In August, NYEC met with House Education and Labor Committee staff and submitted NYEC's initial recommendations to the House for WIA reauthorization. Read these recommendations at nyec.modernsignal.net/content/documents/WIA%20Recs%20House%202.pdf. Unlike the Senate, which began its version of WIA reauthorization based on the work of the previous Congress, the House begins its work with the original Workforce Investment Act of 1998. House Education and Labor committee staff hope to introduce WIA reauthorization later this year.
On August 4, the House of Representatives passed the Green Jobs Act of 2007, legislation introduced by Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (D-CA). The legislation supports training for American workers for jobs in the renewable energy and energy-efficiency industries. It authorizes up to $125 million in funding to establish national and state job training programs, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, to help address job shortages that are impairing growth in green industries, such as energy efficient buildings and construction, renewable electric power, energy efficient vehicles, and biofuels development. The bill was passed as part of H.R. 3221, the New Direction for Energy