Senate HELP Committee Approves WIA Reauthorization Bill

Posted on: August 2nd, 2013 by NADO Admin

On July 31, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) approved by a vote of 18 to 3 the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), which was drafted on a bipartisan basis by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who is Ranking Member of the Employment and Workplace Safety subcommittee. HELP committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) negotiated the title on vocational rehabilitation separately from the rest of the bill. All four members co-sponsored S. 1356.

The Senate WIA bill closely resembles a draft bill circulated by the HELP committee in 2011. The 2011 draft bill was the product of a two-year bipartisan effort to renew and improve the nation’s primary workforce development system. Although a markup of the bill was scheduled, the committee was ultimately unable to reach a bipartisan agreement on how to proceed and the bill was not considered.

Major Provisions of S. 1356 Impacting Regional Development Organizations:

Local board composition — would maintain business majority and requirement that chairperson be a business representative. Of remaining board members, 20 percent must be representatives of the workforce; others would come from entities administering education and training activities; and all others would represent government and economic and community development entities. Reduces size by eliminating requirement that all one-stop programs be represented on the board and requires core programs only.

Coordinated local plans requires each local board to develop and submit to the governor a comprehensive four-year local plan, which would be reviewed every two years and modified to reflect changes in labor market and economic conditions or other factors affecting implementation of the local plan.

Data and program evaluations — the legislation would refocus attention and resources on developing common data systems at the local and state level. Common data would be intake, case management, performance, and reporting systems to improve the ability to determine performance and effectiveness. Proposes a national return-on-investment calculation at least every three years. Sets up a pilot program for up to 10 states to test a new systems integration and alignment measure with a goal to improve performance outcomes.

State performance measures the bill would establish six common State performance measures for all four core programs, which would assess employment, retention, earnings, and education outcomes for adults and effectiveness in serving employers. For youth, would set five common performance measures to assess education/training 1) enrollment 2) retention, 3) earnings, 4) credentials, and 5) effectiveness in serving employers. Current law has 17 separate performance measures that apply differently to different programs.

Sharing costs with the one-stop centers the bill would maintain requirement that one-stop partners use a portion of their funds to maintain the one-stop delivery system, including infrastructure costs. Local areas would still have the option of funding infrastructure costs under a memorandum of understanding (MOU). If a local area is unable to reach agreement through a MOU, the governor would determine each partner’s share of the costs.

Earlier this year, the House passed the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803), which reauthorizes WIA. The SKILLS Act would consolidate 35 existing programs into a single Workforce Investment Fund. NADO opposes this and other provisions in H.R. 803 that weaken the important role of local stakeholders in the administration of workforce development activities and would reduce access to education and training for millions of American workers.

Authorized in 1998, WIA is now ten years overdue for reauthorization. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration. The full text of the legislation is not yet available. Once the text is available, NADO will provide additional analysis of key provisions of the bill.

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