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On Wednesday, March 5 at 10:00 a.m., the House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will hold a hearing entitled, “Culture of Union Favoritism: The Return of the NLRB’s Ambush Election Rule.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
On February 6 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a proposed rule that will dramatically alter long-standing policies governing union elections. The board’s proposal will significantly shorten the time between the filing of a petition for a union election and the election date. Among other provisions, the rule provides employers just seven days to prepare a case to present before an NLRB regional officer and eliminates review by the board of contested issues raised before the election. The proposal also limits the opportunity for a full and fair hearing of issues that may arise during the election proceedings and allows union organizers to have greater access to employees’ personal information.
As a result of the board’s proposal, the ability of employers to communicate with employees will be severely restricted and the right of workers to make an informed decision in union elections will be crippled. Wednesday’s hearing will provide members the opportunity to examine the proposed rule and its effects on workers and employers. To learn more about this hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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Mrs. Doreen S. Davis
New York, NY
Mr. Steve Browne
Executive Director of Human Resources
Testifying on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Managemet
Ms. Caren Spencer
Weinberg, Roger, and Rosenfeld
Mr. William Messenger
National Right to Work Legal Foundation
The House Education and the Workforce Committee will host two field hearings during the week of March 17, 2014 to discuss ways education and skills training can strengthen our economy.
“A quality education and job training system is crucial to the strength and success of America’s workforce,” Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said. “Higher education institutions, career and technical education schools, and workforce investment boards each play a valuable role in encouraging local economic growth by providing individuals with the skills and training needed to fill in-demand jobs. As the House Education and the Workforce Committee works to advance policies that support a more robust workforce, these field hearings will allow us to talk with community leaders about state and local solutions to education and workforce needs.”
On Tuesday, March 18 at 2:00 p.m., Chairman Kline will join Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) in Nevada’s 3rd District for a field hearing entitled, “Reviving our Economy: How Career and Technical Education Can Strengthen the Workforce.” The hearing will take place at Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Coyote Ballroom, located at 7050 West Shelbourne Avenue in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On Thursday, March 20 at 9:00 a.m., Chairman Kline will join Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) in Arizona’s 5th District for a field hearing entitled, “Reviving our Economy: Supporting a 21st Century Workforce.” The hearing will take place at Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus, Student Union-Cooley Ballroom B, located at 7001 East Williams Field Road in Mesa, Arizona.
More information about these field hearings, including witness lists, will be posted atwww.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings. Media interested in attending the Nevada field hearing must RSVP to Greg Lemon with Rep. Heck’s staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Media interested in attending the Arizona field hearing must RSVP to Kristine Michalson with Rep. Salmon’s staff at email@example.com.
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Due to weather conditions, tomorrow's House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing entitled "Raising the Bar: The Role of Charter Schools in K-12 Education" has been postponed.
The hearing will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 12 at 10:30am in room 2175 Rayburn House Office Building. Additional details will be posted at www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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On Tuesday, March 4 at 10:00 a.m., the House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will hold a hearing entitled, “Raising the Bar: The Role of Charter Schools in K-12 Education.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Charter schools encompass two key principles American families want from our nation’s education system: choice and flexibility. These institutions empower parents to play a more active role in their child’s education, open doors for teachers to pioneer fresh teaching methods, encourage state and local innovation, and help students escape underperforming schools.
Tuesday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to discuss the benefits of the successful charter school model while also exploring opportunities to improve charter school quality and expand access to this valuable school choice option. To learn more about Tuesday’s hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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Ms. Deborah McGriff
Chair of the Board
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Mrs. Lisa Graham Keegan
Chair of the Board
National Association of Charter School Authorizers
Mr. David Linzey
Clayton Valley Charter High School
Ms. Alyssa Whitehead-Bust
Chief of Innovation and Reform
Denver Public Schools
Mr. Alan Rosskamm
Chief Executive Officer
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The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), today held a hearing entitled, “Providing Access to Affordable, Flexible Health Plans through Self-Insurance.” During the hearing, members discussed the positive benefits enjoyed by workers and employers participating in self-insured health plans and expressed objections to regulatory efforts that would discourage the use of this important health insurance option.
In his opening remarks, Rep. Roe said, “Employers who manage a self-insured health plan bear the financial risk of providing health benefits to workers. Employers will often work with a third-party to process claims and benefit payments. Many self-insured employers also purchase a product known as stop-loss insurance, a risk management tool that protects employers against catastrophic claims and high costs.”
“It is worth noting just how vitally important this health insurance option has become,” continued Rep. Roe. “Support for self-insurance has grown because it can be tailored to the needs of the workforce and offers transparency to ensure the plan is managed in an efficient and effective way. Just as important, self-insurance helps control health care costs, which can lead to higher wages for workers and more resources for employers to invest in job creation.”
Robert Melillo, an executive at USI Insurance Services, echoed the benefits of self-insurance. “A self-funded program allows a plan sponsor to customize, measure, evaluate, and manage each and every aspect of their benefit plan,” said Mr. Melillo. “I believe a plan sponsor’s choice to self-insure with the use of quality and customizable stop-loss insurance programs is essential if they have any chance of managing their future health care spending.”
Subcommittee members listened to the story of one employer who has been able to offer employees comprehensive, affordable health coverage through a self-insured policy. Wes Kelley is the executive director of Columbia Power & Water Systems, a municipal utility for the City of Columbia and Maury Country in Tennessee.
Speaking from personal experience, Mr. Kelley testified, “Over the past 22 years, our self-funded arrangement has allowed the utility to maintain above average benefits for our employees, dependents, and eligible retirees… These benefits are provided without the employees contributing to the cost of health insurance through their paycheck or otherwise. Furthermore, eligible early retirees and their dependents enjoy the same benefits as active employees.”
Maintaining access to a vibrant self-insured marketplace is a priority for policymakers. Michael Ferguson, president and CEO of the Self-Insurance Institute of America, warned, “The administration may make this option more difficult by restricting the availability of stop-loss insurance. Specifically, it is believed that the federal agencies may ‘interpret’ the definition of health insurance coverage to include stop-loss insurance.” These concerns were confirmed earlier by a 2013 New York Times article citing administration officials interested in discouraging the use of stop-loss insurance.
Chairman Roe urged the administration to abandon such a misguided effort, stating, “The administration must clarify its plans to potentially regulate in this area, and explain the legal basis it has to do so… The employers, workers, unions, and families who rely on these health plans deserve the truth now. Like every American, they were told if they liked their current health care plan they could keep it; they have a right to know whether they too will be on the losing end of the president’s broken promise.”
To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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The ObamaCare credibility gap continues to grow as new evidence of broken promises comes to light. Despite the administration’s repeated pledge health care reform would not harm employment, the New York Times reports teachers and school workers are already experiencing cuts to hours and income thanks to the president’s fatally flawed law:
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has heard similar stories from teachers, professors, and school workers nationwide. The president’s health care law is hurting America’s students and threatening the strength of our nation’s education system.
Whether you are a student, parent, teacher, professor, or administrator, policymakers need to hear from you about the law’s effect on your local schools. To share #YourStory, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/YourStory or e-mail the committee at TellYourStory@mail.house.gov.
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Dr. Deborah A. Gist
Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Dr. Marcy Singer-Gabella
Professor of the Practice of Education
Dr. Heather G. Peske
Associate Commissioner for Educator Quality
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Ms. Christina Hall
Co-Founder & Co-Director
Urban Teacher Center
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Mr. Michael Ferguson
President and Chief Executive Officer
Self-Insurance Institute of America
Mr. Wes Kelley
Columbia Power and Water Systems
Maura Calsyn, J.D.
Director of Health Policy
Center for American Progress
Mr. Robert Melillo
National Vice President, Risk Financing Solutions
USI Insurance Services
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) today sent a letter to President Barack Obama seeking information on his plans to use executive authority to advance the administration’s preferred higher education policies.
Chairman Kline said, “Last summer we successfully worked with the Senate and the administration to enact a new law that cuts student loan interest rates and provides stability for borrowers. Through the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, we have an opportunity to build upon that bipartisan accomplishment and develop comprehensive policies to strengthen the nation’s higher education system for future generations. But we need the president to be an ally in that effort – not obstruct legislative progress with executive actions and reckless rulemakings.”
“The president needs to work with Congress so that we can bring the higher education community together and find common ground as we reauthorize the Higher Education Act this year. Unfortunately, we are off to a difficult start,” Rep. Foxx said. “The president’s repeated threats to circumvent Congress and the failure of his Department of Education to submit any plan or goals for the reauthorization are worrisome indicators. It’s my hope that they will come to the table and help us forge bipartisan solutions to the pressing issues we face in higher education.”
In the letter, Chairman Kline and Rep. Foxx write:
As we continue moving forward with our efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, we hope to work in partnership with the administration to craft policies that will strengthen the law for students, families, teachers, and college leaders. However, your recent threats to circumvent Congress are a major obstacle in this process… We are disappointed the administration would threaten to subvert Congress on higher education policy... Instead, the department continues to propose prescriptive, one-size-fits-all policies that not only ignore the realities of our nation’s diverse higher education system, but are also strongly opposed by many higher education stakeholders.
The leaders request a briefing from the White House Domestic Policy Council later this month on the administration’s plans for future executive actions, as well as additional summits with higher education stakeholders.
To read the letter, click here.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after President Obama signed an executive order affecting federal contractor employees:
The president’s failed policies are crushing working families with high unemployment, rising health care costs, and stagnant wages. We need commonsense solutions that will create jobs and raise the wages of all Americans, not just a select few – and the president's action fails on both counts. Despite the president’s executive political ploys, House Republicans will continue to advance responsible reforms that help improve the lives of all working families.
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– House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) released the following joint statement after the Department of Labor announced in a letter to the committee the withdrawal of controversial enforcement guidance affecting family farms:
The department’s family-farming guidance was flawed and legally suspect. We are pleased this misguided policy has been withdrawn, and the department has recognized the legitimate concerns of policymakers and family farmers. Ensuring a safe and healthy work environment is a goal we all share. However, that goal cannot be reached when federal agencies rewrite the law through executive fiat. We hope the department will engage in a sincere dialogue with other federal agencies and concerned stakeholders to ensure our nation’s farmers are protected.
BACKGROUND: Since 1971 OSHA has been responsible for enforcing federal workplace safety and health standards. Congress has adopted statutory language since 1978 that prevents OHSA from inspecting farms with 10 or fewer employees. This policy has been signed into law by presidents dating back to the Carter administration. However, in 2011, without any public notice or review, the Obama administration released guidance that redefined “farming operations” in order to allow OSHA inspectors onto family farms.
Concerned by this blatant attempt to circumvent the law and the will of Congress, committee Republicans raised objections and urged the department to withdraw the guidance. In a letter received by the committee, the department announced it had removed the guidance from its website and will work with the Department of Agriculture and interested stakeholders on an appropriate policy.
To read the letter from committee Republicans, click here.
To read the response by the Department of Labor, click here.
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Enacted in 1965, the Older Americans Act was established to help older individuals continue living independently in their homes and remain active in their communities. The Act combines federal, state, and local resources to support programs and services that address the needs of the senior population – now estimated at more than 41 million Americans.
At the federal level, the Older Americans Act established the Administration on Aging, now known as the Administration for Community Living, to oversee most of the law’s programs. However, the Act largely relies on a national network of 56 state agencies on aging, 629 area agencies on aging, and nearly 20,000 service providers to plan, coordinate, and deliver services to local seniors.
Using formula based grants authorized under Title III of the law and other funding sources, State and Area Agencies on Aging develop programs tailored to meet the needs of local seniors. These programs provide supportive services such as transportation to and from doctor’s offices and pharmacies; financial support for senior centers and family caregivers; and disease prevention and health promotion activities.
But the Older Americans Act is perhaps best known for supporting key nutrition services, such as group and home-delivery meal programs, the latter being more commonly known as Meals on Wheels. States match 15 percent of their federal grant to ensure local agencies can provide nutritious meals to the elder population most in need. In Fiscal Year 2011, the most recent data available, more than 223 million meals were served to approximately 2.5 million people.
The Older Americans Act plays a vital role in helping seniors access services that promote health, independence, and longevity. In Fiscal Year 2010 alone, the law’s programs served nearly 11 million older Americans and their caregivers.
As we work toward reauthorizing the Older Americans Act, we must acknowledge the law faces challenges. The population of senior citizens has changed dramatically since the law was first drafted in the 1960s. U.S. Census projections estimate the number of Americans age 65 and over will increase from 40 million in 2010 to 72 million in 2030. This means that, for the next 19 years, roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 every day. As a result, many are concerned that the Older Americans Act cannot effectively meet the needs of the rapidly growing senior population – especially amid current fiscal constraints.
As we explore ways to strengthen the law, it is critical we seek to enhance program coordination and efficacy so that we may better serve those with the greatest social and economic needs. Equally important is preserving the law’s federalist structure, which balances a national framework of programs and funding with significant local flexibility in order to effectively meet the needs of local seniors.
Last year the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions approved the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2013. Today we have the opportunity to begin the committee’s process of exploring the best ways to improve the law’s flexible policies and targeted programs that are essential to providing care for America’s seniors.
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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) released the following statements after the Obama administration announced its latest ObamaCare delay:
“Another unilateral delay of the employer mandate further proves the president’s health care law is a threat to our nation’s workplaces,” said Chairman Kline. “Whether the employer mandate is enforced now or ten years from now, it will destroy jobs and reduce the take-home pay of working families. All Americans deserve permanent reprieve from this fatally flawed health care law. Instead of picking winners and losers through executive fiat, the president should work with Congress to scrap the law and replace it with responsible reforms the American people can support.”
“I wish I could say I was surprised that the administration has once again bypassed Congress to implement another Obamacare delay, but I’m not,” said Rep. Roe. “The president still refuses to give the same protections to families as he’s giving to big business, but he’s also refusing employers the certainty they need to get back to doing what they do best: running their businesses. It’s both unfortunate and unacceptable that the president chooses to use his ‘pen’ instead of working with Congress and I’m disappointed that this is how President Obama chooses to govern. With each delay, it becomes more and more clear that this law is unworkable and needs to be replaced with patient-centered reform.”
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