NACo Urges County Action on Workforce Reauthorization Bill

The National Association of Counties (NACo) urges your help to support comprehensive action on a longstanding difficult issue.  The US Congress is currently considering legislation that will preserve local governance authority, add flexibility, and maintain funding in the area of workforce investment.   The Senate may move to adopt the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, H.R. 803 (as amended) as early as this week.

On May 21, House and Senate leaders reached agreement on new Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization legislation called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), H.R. 803 (as amended). This bill represents a bipartisan, bicameral compromise between the SKILLS Act, (H.R. 803), which was passed by the House in March 2013, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), which was passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in July 2013.  The National Association of Counties (NACo) urges all county elected officials to ask their House and Senate Members to vote for passage of H.R. 803 as amended.

Despite proposals to reduce the local role in a reauthorization bill, the compromise workforce bill preserves local governance authority, adds flexibility and maintains funding. The Senate plans to adopt the legislation by unanimous consent as early as this week, and the House looks set to consider the bill later this month. To help county officials assess the potential impacts of H.R. 803 (as amended) on their communities and local workforce boards, NACo has prepared a 17-page analysis of the key provisions of the measure. As described by NACo,

The Workforce Investment Act is long overdue for reauthorization, as it expired in 2003. A strong workforce system will increase investments and resources for quality training and help to ensure that localities and states can continue to meet the needs of jobseekers and employers. The workforce compromise bill would provide the needed funding and framework for a modernized workforce development system by maintaining a local role in the system with added flexibility. It recognizes that local elected officials and boards play a critical role in workforce development and the overall economic health of our local communities.

An essential component of the Workforce Investment Act’s success is maintaining local governance. The compromise bill would protect local authority in workforce investment boards and workforce investment areas, which has been a key priority for NACo. It also would provide greater local board flexibility to address their workforce challenges, such as allowing them to use up to 20 percent of adult workforce funding for incumbent worker and on the job training for in-demand occupations. This welcomed flexibility will allow local boards to tailor plans and services to meet the needs of their jobseekers and employers.

NACo has provided a sample letter, which county officials can modify for their use. For reference, read NACo’s letter in support of WIOA. For more information, read the NACo Policy Brief on WIA reauthorization.

If your county and/or local workforce board sends a support letter, please send a copy to NACo Associate Legislative Director, Daria Daniel at ddaniel@naco.org. For more information contact Daria at 202.942.4269.

 

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