House Education & Workforce Committee

What They’re Saying: Child Care Stakeholders Support Bipartisan Bill to Help Working Families

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:00am

Child care and community leaders are voicing support for the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill to help low-income families access child care while a parent pursues an education or job-training.

“This bill sets the standard all families expect for their children by requiring providers to undergo comprehensive background checks, annual and pre-licensure inspections, and training... [and] includes significant measures to improve the quality of child care and ensure that all children in child care settings are safe.”– Child Care Aware of America

“Your substitute amendment retains that critical provision and even adds language in various sections that supports the availability of a variety of approaches to childhood development.” – Council for American Private Education

“CCDBG ensure[s] parents continue to have the capacity to choose from a broad diversity of delivery models – including faith-based models – in early education.” – Association of Christian Schools International

"The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Program helps low-income working families and parents transitioning from welfare to work find safe, supportive, caring environments for their children.” – National Education Association

“CCDBG serves as essential support to working families who need to ensure their children are cared for and learning in a safe and high-quality setting during parents’ hours of employment, which often exceed the regular school day.” – Early Care and Education Consortium

“Working families with young children depend on child care so that they can obtain and retain a job … The Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act will combine important safety protections for children in child care with more accountability for the expenditure of public dollars.” – First Children’s Finance

“The quality improvements in the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 will work to ensure that more children of low-income working families have access to a high-quality early care and learning experience that best meets their needs.” – Knowledge Universe

“The CCDBG Reauthorization Act is truly historic.” – Early Learning Policy Group

“We support the proposed CCDBG improvements focused on safety, health, and quality.” – Save The Children

“Child care assistance is an essential work-support for low income parents … [CCDBG] is unique among federal programs in that its two-generational focus has the ability to support both parents’ economic success and children’s healthy development.” – Center for Law and Social Policy

“The bicameral, bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act will combine important safety protections for children in child care with more accountability for the expenditure of public dollars."  - Child Care Aware of Virginia

"Working families with young children need child care, and children need a place to be safe and a setting that promotes their healthy development. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of working families.” – Child Care Resources

"Nemours enthusiastically supports S. 1086, as we believe it will create a solid foundation to increase access to and improve the quality of child care for families and children benefitting from the CCDBG program." – Nemours

"Quality child care is critical for working families. However, parents can't have choices among quality settings unless children are safe and the child care workforce has the training they need to promote quality care. Thank you for supporting working families and for working to strengthen the quality of child care.” – OCCRRA

"Your efforts will have a positive impact on a program critical not only to working parents but to the 6 million infants and toddlers who currently spend some portion of their days in child care." – Zero to Three

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Bipartisan, Bicameral Agreement Reached to Reform Child Care & Development Block Grant Program

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 1:15pm

A bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders today announced a legislative agreement to improve and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. Negotiated by Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC), the agreement will enhance transparency, strengthen health and safety protections, and improve the quality of care.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides funds to states to help low-income families pay for child care while a parent works or is in an educational or job training program. The law has not been reauthorized since 1996. Today’s bipartisan, bicameral agreement is based upon legislation introduced in 2013 by Senators Mikulski and Burr that passed the Senate earlier this year.
 
“The Child Care and Development Block Grant program is a vital lifeline for countless Americans,” said Rep. Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “Working moms and dads have pursued a career, earned a degree, or acquired new skills and training because of the support available through this program. The commonsense ideas included in this bipartisan, bicameral agreement will only strengthen our support of these working families. I want to thank my House and Senate colleagues for working together to forge this bipartisan agreement.”

“For working families in Iowa and around the country, access to safe and affordable child care is essential,” said Senator Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “This bipartisan bill will help to ensure working parents have access to quality, affordable child care and provide rich early-learning opportunities for children, including infants and toddlers and children with disabilities. This bill is a strong example of what Congress can achieve by working together. I am encouraged by the HELP Committee’s growing record of bipartisan accomplishments and look forward to the President signing this critical bill into law.”  

“Every parent, regardless of their income level, deserves to know that their child is well cared-for,” said Rep. Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “This bipartisan, bicameral bill improves child care access, makes critical new investments, and helps to ensure children are safe and are receiving quality care. Reliable care sets children on the path toward success in school and in the rest of their lives. While helping to prepare the next generation, good child care also supports working parents to promote greater workforce stability. These updates to CCDBG are vital for our children, our families, and our nation’s future.”

“This bill helps a working Tennessee mother be able to pay for child care while she earns a degree so she can pay for it herself,” said Sen. Alexander, the senior Republican on the Senate HELP Committee. “Every month, an average of 39,000 Tennessee children get child care through this program while their parents earn an education or build a career. Today’s agreement will continue success stories like the Memphis mother whose infant received care through this program while she earned a business degree and rose to assistant manager at a Walmart, enabling her to pay for the care of her second child at the same childcare center.”

“For families struggling to make ends meet, quality child care is a necessity,” said Rep. Rokita. “This significant agreement strengthens a child care program that has been untouched for nearly two decades. It does so by preserving provider choice, improving transparency, and most importantly, child safety. This bill could truly save lives, and I look forward to its passage.”

“Every working parent with children no matter their income level worries about child care,” said Sen. Mikulski. “What’s affordable? What’s accessible? Will my child be safe? Where can I get the very best care for my kid? It is not enough to simply ensure that kids have someplace to go. We must also ensure that they go someplace that is safe, that nurtures their development, that challenges their mind, and that prepares them for school. I am so pleased that the Senate and House have come together on a bipartisan basis to revitalize, refresh, and reform this vitally important program to support child care providers, give parents peace of mind, and better prepare our children for the future. It’s time to get this done for children, parents, and providers alike!”

“As the son of a single mother, I know how important quality, affordable child care is for working families,” said Rep. Loebsack. “The Child Care Development Block Grant provides a critical lifeline to families and allows them to work or attend school with the peace of mind knowing their children are safe and well cared for. This bipartisan agreement makes long needed updates and improvements to CCDBG that will promote healthy child development and enhance quality and safety. I am pleased that both Republicans and Democrats from both the House and Senate came together to improve the lives of working families.”

“Over three years ago Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and I made a commitment to reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant program so that kids could have safer environments in which to stay while their parents worked and taxpayers did not continue to subsidize providers who created unsafe settings and threatened their well-being. It has been a long time coming, but I’m proud we have reached this point," said Senator Richard Burr. "I am thankful for the work of my colleagues in the Senate and the House who stood together to ensure the passage of this legislation. This legislation will positively impact the lives of millions of children and their parents.”  

The bipartisan, bicameral agreement includes reforms to:

  • Enhance parental choice by providing information about available care options from all providers, including faith-based and community-based providers, and allowing parents to choose the child care provider that best suits their family’s needs.
         
  • Strengthen safety in child care settings by requiring all providers  to comply with state health, safety, and fire standards and undergo annual inspections.
          
  • Promote high quality child care by reserving funds at the state level to improve the quality of care provided to children, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.

The text of the bill is available here.

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Committee Leaders Applaud Passage of Employee Health Care Protection Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 12:00am
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) issued the following statements after the House passed H.R. 3522, the Employee Health Care Protection Act:
 
“The president promised time and again if people liked their health care plan they could keep it,” said Rep. Kline. “But the American people are discovering the president failed to keep his word, leaving them with political gimmicks, cancelled policies, and broken promises. Today the House passed legislation to allow hard-working Americans to keep the health plans they like, providing workers and small businesses more affordable health care options. I urge the Senate to support the legislation without delay.”
 
“When President Obama reassured people repeatedly that if they liked their current health care plan they could keep it,” said Rep. Roe, “he was ignoring clear warnings that this promise couldn’t be kept. As a physician, I anticipated that insurance would become increasingly unaffordable and that many Americans would lose access to their existing policies. I am proud to join my colleagues in the House in taking this important step to alleviate some of the chaos the president’s health care law is causing, and I hope the Senate will do the same.”

Rokita Statement: Hearing on "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:00am

A free and democratic society requires government transparency and accountability. We all want the federal government to serve the best interests of every American – those directly affected by federal programs and those whose tax dollars fund federal programs. To get there, we need to know what’s working and what isn’t. And we need to know the steps an agency should take to turn things around. 

The Department of Education administers roughly 80 programs tied to K-12 schools; 80 programs just at the elementary and secondary education level. It requires a massive bureaucracy to administer so many programs, and the greater the bureaucracy the greater the opportunities for mismanagement. That is why the House has taken action that would begin streamlining these programs, because a more efficient Department of Education can do a better job supporting our nation’s schools.

However, even the leanest federal agency can still be susceptible to waste, fraud, and abuse. We must remain vigilant in our oversight, both in Congress and the offices of our independent partners. The Government Accountability Office and inspectors general are at the forefront of this important effort. Their knowledge and investigative authority are vital tools in the fight against government corruption and mismanagement.        

Chairwoman Foxx noted several reports by GAO affecting higher education policies with recommendations that remain open. Here are just a few examples affecting K-12 education policies:                                                                      

  • “Education Could Do More to Assist Charter Schools with Applying for Discretionary Grants”;
                                                                                                
  • “Students with Disabilities: Better Federal Coordination Could Lessen Challenges in the Transition from High School”;                                                          
  • “Selected States and School Districts Cited Numerous Federal Requirements as Burdensome, While Recognizing Some Benefits”; and
         
  • “Education Research: Further Improvements Needed to Ensure Relevance and Assess Dissemination Efforts.”
 Each report embodies a new opportunity to serve the American people more effectively and spend taxpayer dollars more wisely. President Reagan once noted, “Government is the people’s business, and every man, woman, and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid.” I am fighting for all those people so that they can build better lives for themselves and their families. It is our responsibility to protect their tax dollars and ensure the American people receive the highest level of government service they expect. 

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Foxx Statement: Hearing on "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:00am
Independent oversight is a central tool to ensure the federal government spends taxpayer dollars wisely and administers programs and policies in the most efficient and effective way. When you consider the challenges facing our schools and workplaces, as well as the tsunami of red ink confronting taxpayers, the need for responsible administration of the federal government has never been more important.

The Government Accountability Office and each agency’s Office of Inspector General play vital roles in the oversight effort. The hard-working staff of these nonpartisan entities are the taxpayers first line of defense against  waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars. They also help identify areas where programs and policies can be improved to ensure the American people receive the best services possible. 

Like all federal agencies, the Department of Education has a responsibility to take the concerns and recommendations offered by these independent investigators seriously. There is certainly no shortage of improvements needed at the department. In recent years, the GAO has issued numerous reports highlighting areas where programs and policies should be strengthened, including reports entitled:                                                                       
  • “Use of New Data Could Help Improve Oversight of Distance Education”;
                                                                                                
  • “Foreign Medical Schools: Education Should Improve Monitoring of Schools That Participate in the Federal Student Loan Program”;                                                          
  • “Better Oversight Could Improve Defaulted Loan Rehabilitation”; and
         
  • “Improved Tax Information Could Help Families Pay for College.”
These reports are in addition to those routinely released by the Inspector General’s office. The examples I just cited are especially noteworthy, because they include recommendations not yet implemented by the department. Agencies may not agree with every recommendation in every report. In fact, this committee may question various recommendations from time to time. 

However, each independent report represents an opportunity for a federal agency to consider changes and improve. Whether it’s the solutions outlined by the GAO and IG offices, or a set of changes proposed internally by an agency, action must be taken. The American people deserve no less.

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Witnesses Warn: NLRB Assault on Franchise Businesses Will Destroy Jobs

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:00am
The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), today held a hearing to examine efforts by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to rewrite the existing standard for determining joint employer status under the National Labor Relations Act. During the hearing, members listened as small business owners and other witnesses described how this radical effort would destroy the franchise model and American jobs. 

“Each day more than eight million Americans go to work at our nation’s 757,000 franchise businesses,” said Rep. Roe. “The franchise model has encouraged entrepreneurship, the growth of small businesses, and job creation …Yet today we are discussing an effort that will force small businesses to close their doors, or at the very least, discourage new small businesses from being created. Workers will once again be on the losing end of this Big Labor bailout, and at a time they can least afford it.” In July, NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin issued an unprecedented decision that determined McDonald’s Inc. and certain franchisees were joint employers. Griffin has also urged the board to overturn decades of precedent in favor of a far more expansive joint employer standard. 

Labor law expert Todd Duffield explained the implications of this effort, “The [traditional] test is clear, it makes sense, and it’s worked for over 30 years … Congress should understand that these are not small, technical legal changes to labor law. The consequences of changing the board’s current joint employer standard threatens established business relationships and will cause significant economic upheaval.”

Those concerns were echoed by men and women engaged in the franchise business. Catherine Monson, chief executive officer of FASTSIGNS International, warned of the harmful impact that would be inflicted on employers and employees alike. “Such a rule change could completely upend the franchise model and have devastating consequences for franchising as an economic force in the United States … [I]ndividual entrepreneurs would be deprived of the opportunity to own their own business, franchisors would be denied the opportunity to expand their business, and millions of jobs will be lost.”

Clint Ehlers, a FASTSIGNS franchisee, shared these concerns: “If franchise owners have less independence and control, they can also expect lower profits. If profits are lower, there will be less demand from entrepreneurs to start franchised businesses … A revised joint employer standard will result in fewer new franchised businesses, at a time when our economy is thirsty for growth and expansion.”

Small-business owner and franchisee Jagruti Panwala added, “Mr. Chairman, I am no intermediary. I am a business owner and job-creator … I strongly urge this committee, and the National Labor Relations Board, to consider the tremendously adverse impacts on franchisees and workers.”

“The American people deserve to know what the federal government is up to and how it will affect their families,” concluded Rep. Roe. “Today’s hearing has helped shine a light on those consequences and I hope encouraged the NLRB to change course.”

To learn more about today’s hearing, read witness testimony, or to watch an archived webcast, visitwww.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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ICYMI: The Student Loan Debt Solution Is All About Jobs

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:00am
By Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
  
Many college graduates are delaying some of life’s most important decisions – including starting a family and buying a home – because they face a pile of debt with no job prospects.  A record number of young adults live with their parents and roughly half of college graduates under the age of 26 rely on mom and dad for financial help.  

President Obama wants people to believe that shaving a few dollars off monthly student loan payments will solve the problems plaguing graduates. That’s the essence of a proposal being touted on the campaign trail that would raise taxes and allow some graduates to refinance federal student loans. 

Let’s be honest: This scheme is more about helping politicians survive an election than helping graduates survive the Obama economy. Sadly this is not the first time young Americans have been used as pawns in political messaging.

In the summer of 2013, interest rates on most federal student loans were set to double. The president included a long-term, market-based solution in his budget proposal and urged Congress to pass it to prevent an interest rate spike. 

The Republican-led House passed a bill mirroring the president’s request. Yet the Obama administration rejected it and the Senate refused to back it, demanding instead a short-term fix.

Why the flip-flop? According to one press report, Democrats hoped to kick the can down the road to “rally younger voters to the polls” in the 2014 elections.

Fortunately, a long-term solution became law. We averted an interest rate spike and provided students and families more certainty. We did the right thing by taking the threat of an interest rate hike off the table, leading to some politicians’ current search for another election-year gambit to rally voters.

This political gambit fails to address the core of the problem: graduates entering a job market that lacks good-paying jobs. No monthly payment is affordable if you are underemployed or out of work.
 
The best way to help young Americans with debt burdens is to get our economy moving again – precisely what House Republicans are trying to do. The House has advanced more than 40 jobs bills, many with bipartisan support, that would open new doors of opportunity for struggling graduates. Yet all of these bills are collecting dust in the Senate. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may not agree with every detail of every bill, but that is no excuse for his total inaction.

Recently, Congress did come together to pass a bipartisan fix for our broken workforce development system. We got the job done because the House acted, the Senate came to the table, and the administration got out of the way. Now we have a reformed law that will help put people back to work.

Our nation desperately needs more bipartisan successes like this. Job creation will remain the House’s number one priority until every graduate and struggling worker who needs a job can find one. Meanwhile, we are also taking steps to strengthen higher education for current and future graduates.

If we enact a series of commonsense reforms, the federal government can help more Americans turn the dream of a college degree into reality. For starters, Washington should encourage more innovation, such as competency-based education, so students can earn a degree at a faster pace and lower cost.

Federal policymakers should empower students and families to make smart decisions by enhancing financial counseling and delivering better information to students looking for the right college or university.

We should improve federal student aid. Many students take out loans when other financial assistance is available. It is time to streamline the confusing maze of aid and grant programs, and make it easier for students and families to apply for help.

Congress should also strengthen the options available for students to repay their loans. The current system encourages students to borrow more than they need and can afford. We should pursue policies that ensure low-income individuals get the help they need, while also protecting taxpayer dollars.

The House has already passed legislation addressing some of these issues, often with overwhelming bipartisan support. These efforts would make a real difference in the lives of students and they deserve consideration in the Senate.

Life after graduation should be filled with hope and excitement. For far too many, it’s become a time of hopelessness and anxiety. Countless college graduates are struggling because of the president’s failed economic and education policies.  Let’s stop treating young adults as political pawns and start working together to ensure they can build the future they deserve.

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Roe Statement: Hearing on "Expanding Joint Employer Status: What Does it Mean for Workers and Job Creators?"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:00am
Each day more than eight million Americans go to work at our nation’s 757,000 franchise businesses. The franchise model has encouraged entrepreneurship, the growth of small businesses, and job creation. Countless men and women invest their tears, sweat, and savings to realize the dream of owning their own business, and the franchise model has helped turn those dreams into a reality. 

For most franchise employers, it’s tough staying afloat in even the best of times. It’s especially challenging when Washington bureaucrats change the rules in the middle of the game. In recent months, it’s become clear the Obama National Labor Relations Board is determined to rewrite a franchise model that has served workers, employers, and consumers well for decades. 

At the center of this effort is Richard Griffin. As the agency’s general counsel, Mr. Griffin has encouraged the board to blur the lines of responsibility between the franchisor and franchisee. Most recently, he determined McDonalds Inc. is a joint employer with its franchisees, a decision that no doubt sent a shockwave across the country. This radical effort is detached from reality for two important reasons. 

First, it pretends the franchise business model doesn’t exist. Since 1984, the NLRB has applied a straight-forward test to determine whether two separate entities are joint employers of a business establishment. The board analyzes whether the alleged employers share control over essential conditions of employment, such as hiring, firing, discipline, supervision, and direction of employees. Control over these matters must be direct and immediate.

The current standard makes perfect sense when one considers how the franchise model works in the real world. As chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants – a company that includes iconic brands like Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. – Andrew Puzder is no stranger to the franchise business or this subcommittee. Here is how he has described the franchise business model:


The franchiser/franchisee relationship is built on a division of roles and responsibilities. The franchiser owns a unique system, which it licenses and protects as a brand. The franchisee operates an independent business under the brand's trademarks at one or more locations as a licensee. … Franchisees independently choose who they hire, the number of people they hire, the wages and benefits they pay, the training that such employees undergo, the labor practices they use, how their employees are monitored and evaluated, and the circumstances under which they're promoted, disciplined or fired.

Make no mistake, the current standard reflects the way franchise businesses have been owned and operated for decades. So why the sudden effort to dismantle policies that work? As the Wall Street Journal noted in reaction to Mr. Griffin’s decision:


This is a bonanza for trial lawyers who will be able to shake down the parent company for alleged labor violations at franchisees whose pockets aren't as deep. The other beneficiary is Big Labor. … Under Mr. Griffin's law, they can leap-frog their direct managers to corporate headquarters, which are more vulnerable to political pressure and less sensitive to local markets. 

Which leads to the second reason why this radical effort is so detached from reality – it fails to recognize the difficult challenges facing workers in the Obama economy. Our nation remains mired in a jobs crisis. Workers are frustrated. After six years of President Obama’s failed policies, I am frustrated too. Stocks prices on Wall Street are breaking new records while wages on Main Street remain flat. Meanwhile, the prices for essential goods and services like food, gas, and health insurance have gone up. 

That’s not right and working families deserve better. Yet today we are discussing an effort that will force small businesses to close their doors, or at the very least, discourage new small businesses from being created. Workers will once again be on the losing end of this Big Labor bailout and at a time they can least afford it.

I suspect some of my colleagues will protest today’s hearing. It will likely be noted the board hasn’t rendered a decision and suggested the committee is once again putting the cart before the horse. We’ve heard our colleagues sing that tune before and each time it has been followed by a radical shift in board policy. 

The American people deserve to know what the federal government is up to and how it will affect their families. Hiding the truth behind some process nonsense isn’t fair to the men and women who will have to live by the rules issued by this federal agency. Today’s hearing will help shine a light on those consequences and I hope encourage the NLRB to change course.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** TIME CHANGE: Hearing to Examine Oversight of Department of Education

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:00am
Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 10th at 9:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), will hold a joint hearing entitled, "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight." Members will discuss recommendations from the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Education Office of Inspector General on ways to improve department services and save taxpayer dollars.

To learn more about these hearings, or to watch live webcasts, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Hearings to Examine Joint Employer Status Under NLRA and Oversight of Department of Education

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:00am
This week, the committee will convene two hearings in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

On Tuesday, September 9th at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), will hold a  hearing entitled, “Expanding Joint Employer Status: What Does it Mean for Workers and Job Creators?” The hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine efforts by the National Labor Relations Board to rewrite how the agency determines joint employer status under the National Labor Relations Act.

On Wednesday, September 10th at 10:00 a.m, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), will hold a joint hearing entitled, "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight." Members will discuss recommendations from the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Education Office of Inspector General on ways to improve department services and save taxpayer dollars.

To learn more about these hearings, or to watch live webcasts, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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Indiana School Leaders and Job Creators Describe Harmful Effects of President’s Health Care Law

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 12:00am
The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), held a field hearing in Greenfield, Indiana to examine the health care challenges facing the state's classrooms and workplaces. According to a local news report


Hoosier business owners and education officials aired out their concerns about the Affordable Care Act to Congress without having to go all the way to Washington D.C.
 … The chambers there are clearly smaller than the halls of Congress, but that’s exactly the way committee members wanted it. Several panelists were concerned about how ACA has been affecting their budgets.

As witnesses made clear, the president’s health care law is undermining the success of the nation’s schools and workplaces –

Schools                                                                         

  • The most significant impact is on our special needs students. These students need and want consistency … It is best for our special needs students to have the same bus driver for their routes. Unfortunately, we now must split the route between two drivers. By using different drivers for the same route, our special needs students are subject to constant change which is uncomfortable for our special needs students and not in their best interests. – Mr. Danny Tanoos, Superintendent, Vigo County School Corporation, Terre Haute, IN
                                                                                                
  • Like many community colleges our funding is very limited. It does not allow us to absorb large unfunded mandates such as any employee who reaches 30 hours being offered health insurance. We would have to pass along such increases on the backs of students by increasing tuition. As a result many of those who are at the lowest income levels trying to improve their lives would no longer be able to afford college. – Mr. Tom Snyder, President, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, Indianapolis, IN                                                             
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (PPACA) has had and continues to have a severe and disproportionately disruptive effect on our high performing school district. We have identified three categories in which these negative effects have occurred in our school district. There is the impact on our students, the impact on our employees, and the impact on the school district itself. These intertwined and interactive effects, taken together, are serious now and appear to be increasing in their severity over time. – Mr. Michael Shafer, Chief Financial Officer, Zionsville Community Schools, Zionsville, IN

Workplaces                                                                               

  • In summary, since the ACA took effect, our company and employees have seen premiums increase dramatically while deductibles and out-of-pocket costs have been raised, all during a period when the overall health of our employees has improved … From the experience of IDS, I can say that the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable for our company and employees. – Mr. Mark DeFabis, President, Integrated Distribution Services, Plainfield, IN
                   
  • We offer health insurance to our full time employees although not affordable by government standards … This cost to our business is roughly in the area of $2.42 to $3.23 per hour per employee depending on hours worked. To meet the proposed guidance of not to exceed 9.5% of income that cost would move into the $2.87 to $5.15 range per hour per employee! Representing an 18 to 59% raise in cost per hour per employee. Where is the AFFORDABLE in this act? – Mr. Daniel Wolfe, President, Wolfe’s Auto Auctions, Terre Haute, IN                                                                        
  • The Affordable Care Act’s reporting mandates will absolutely ‘bury’ our Human Resources Department … The forms must be filed electronically for companies with over 250 employees, such as Draper. However, there is no guidance or process yet established to explain how to do this … Our HR Department’s worst fear is that the final versions will be made available on December 15, with a December 31 deadline for submission! – Mr. Nate LaMar, International Regional Manager, Draper, Inc., Spiceland, IN

Congressman Luke Messer (R-IN) noted during the hearing, “Our nation’s school children and hourly workers shouldn’t be forced to pay the price of that law.” Chairman Roe echoed the sentiment: “Our children and working families deserve better."

To read witness testimony, opening statements, or watch an archived webcast of the hearing, visitwww.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.                      

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Roe Statement: Hearing on "The Effects of the President’s Health Care Law on Indiana’s Classrooms and Workplaces"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 12:00am

Before joining Congress, I spent more than 30 years practicing medicine. As a doctor I experienced firsthand a health care system that is the envy of the world, one that has helped improve the lives of countless men, women, and children. But I also learned our health care system isn’t perfect. 

In many ways health care is too costly, too bureaucratic, and far too many families lack access to the care they need. Health care reform has long been an urgent national priority, and it’s one of the reasons why I decided to run for Congress. Unfortunately, the president’s health care law is not the right prescription for reform. In fact, it’s making these challenges worse.

Under the president’s plan, health care costs are going up, not down; full-time jobs are being destroyed, not created; and people are losing the health care plan they like, not keeping it like they were promised. These harmful consequences are playing out in communities across the country. 

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recently surveyed area businesses to learn how the law was affecting their workplaces. Roughly 18 percent of businesses said they are cutting jobs and employees and another 18 percent said they were shifting more workers to part-time hours. Additionally, a majority of employers changing their health plans because of the law are passing more costs onto employees. Federal Reserve authorities in Atlanta and New York report similar findings.

The law is hurting not only businesses, but our classrooms as well. Higher costs, fewer full-time jobs, lost wages – these problems are plaguing schools nationwide. A survey by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources found many institutions are passing more health care costs onto their employees. Students will ultimately lose as schools grapple with the law’s added costs and burdensome mandates.

Our children and working families deserve better. It is clear we need to set aside the president’s health care law and start over with real reform that will lower costs and expand access. 

In the meantime, we need to take responsible steps that will provide relief to schools and workplaces. That is precisely what the House of Representatives is determined to do. I want to thank my colleague, Representative Luke Messer, for helping to lead that important effort.

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Messer Statement: Hearing on “The Effects of the President’s Health Care Law on Indiana’s Classrooms and Workplaces”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 12:00am
Congress needs to hear directly from those who have been forced to make difficult decisions as a result of the law’s employer mandate, which requires employers to provide expensive government-approved health insurance or face steep fines if they don’t.    

Put simply, the Federal government should not be taxing schools and small businesses to pay for the President’s health care law. It just isn’t right. And, if we really care about our economy and our nation’s future we will do something about it. 

Dave Adams, the Superintendent of Shelbyville Central Schools, first brought this issue to my attention early last year when he said the employer mandate will cost his schools $794,000 each year. Bob Yoder, Assistant Superintendent of Southern Hancock School Corporation, estimated its price tag at $450,000 per year. Their stories are not unique, unfortunately.  

That’s why I have introduced legislation to exempt schools from this onerous provision. We can’t fund the President’s health care law at the expense of education. 

Small businesses are being harmed, too. Businesses statewide have been forced to reduce worker hours and scale-back their workforce to balance new budget constraints imposed by the law. That’s why I have introduced legislation that will exempt most small business from this tax, too.  

Nate LaMar, the International Regional Manager of Draper, Incorporated in Spiceland, rightly notes that the law’s fees and taxes don’t stop with the employer mandate. There are very strong feelings about the President’s health care law on both sides of the aisle.  I respect the views of those who believe deeply that it is the best way to address the challenges in our health care system.  

I would hope that most could agree, however, that our nation’s school children and hourly workers should be forced to pay the price of that law.

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Congress Coming to Greenfield

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 12:00am

The open enrollment period for insurance plans mandated by the Affordable Care Act is just months away. For most Hoosiers, that means a bigger bite out of their monthly budgets next year. Health insurance premiums in Indiana will go up an average of 13% in 2015 according to a study conducted by the Health Research Institute. That means individual Hoosiers can expect to pay about $497 per month for insurance without government subsidies. That’s not affordable, despite the law’s title.

Employers across the state are facing the same harsh reality. Business owners and cash-strapped school corporations are grappling with how to deal with a provision of the law that requires them to provide costly health insurance that many of their employees neither want nor need. These schools and businesses are facing big fines if they don’t. That’s bad for business and terrible for students.

Shelbyville Central Schools estimates the Affordable Care Act will cost $794,000 annually. Southern Hancock School Corporation estimates the cost at $450,000. To help deal with the increased strain on already cash-strapped budgets, bus drivers, teachers’ aides, and other support staff have already had their hours reduced.

The largest school district in Indiana, Fort Wayne Community Schools, has calculated that it would either face $10 million of added compliance costs or be forced to pay $8 million in fines to the IRS to comply with the mandate. The district has been forced to cut the hours of more than 600 part-time cafeteria workers and teachers’ aides as a result.

Small business owners have to make the same tough choices. The law’s redefinition of what is means to work full-time—30 hours—makes more employers with fewer employees subject to the same fines as schools unless they provide costly insurance. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, these tough choices will reduce labor force compensation and push as many as 2.3 million people out of the workforce over the next seven years. This “new normal” for our nation’s workforce is not OK.

The House of Representatives has acted to stop this damage by voting to repeal, delay, and defund this law.  But the Senate has failed to follow suit.  They need to hear your voices.  That’s why the Committee on Education and the Workforce, of which I am a member, has decided to hold a field hearing in Greenfield entitled “The Effects of the President’s Health Care Law on Indiana’s Classrooms and Workplaces.”  It’s a chance for Hoosier school and business leaders to express their concerns to Congress and draw attention to the harm the President’s health care law is having on students and workers.  

The hearing, held by the Committee’s Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, will bring together members of Congress from around the state and nation to hear first-hand how this law is hurting Hoosiers.  The hearing is scheduled to take place on Thursday, September 4, 2014, at 10 a.m. at Greenfield City Hall located at 10 S. State Street in Greenfield.  

I look forward to bringing Congress to Greenfield and invite you to join us on September 4th.

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