- About Us
- Resource Center
- My WCOE
Chair Berrien we are pleased to see you today. It has been a long time since the committee convened a hearing to examine the policies and priorities of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. We are grateful you’ve joined us and thank you for your service to our country.
Republicans and Democrats share the same goal: We want to ensure the American people work in an environment free of discrimination. Whether or not an individual succeeds in a workplace should be determined by merit and hard work, not the unlawful prejudice of their boss. For most employers, a person’s skills and drive to succeed are what matter most. However, bad actors will put personal bigotries before the talent and dedication of America’s workers.
A recent case out of Davenport, Iowa provides a stunning example of this difficult reality. According to reports, 32 men with intellectual disabilities were subjected to abuse and discrimination. The deplorable treatment these men faced included verbal and physical harassment, substandard living conditions, and inadequate medical care. EEOC is to be applauded for helping to bring those who committed these heinous acts to justice.
Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination should be vigorously and fairly enforced. That’s why we are here today. There has been a significant shift in both the enforcement and regulatory priorities at EEOC in recent years. It is our responsibility to ask tough questions to ensure agency policies are in the best interests of workers and employers.
For example, does it serve the best interests of workers and employers when EEOC investigates businesses without evidence of wrongdoing? The agency has set a goal that up to 24 percent of all litigated cases be systemic in nature. At times, these investigations are launched without any employee alleging discrimination. Meanwhile, a backlog of more than 70,000 discrimination claims by workers continues to plague the commission.
At a time of high unemployment and record federal debt, every job and dollar counts. We should not be diverting scarce resources away from workers who believe they’ve been harmed in order to follow a hunch. And we should not be dragging our nation’s job creators through unnecessary and costly investigations without a factual basis of wrongdoing.
Does it also serve the best interest of workers and employers when the full weight of the agency’s litigation power is ceded to one individual? Congress created a commission of five members to ensure accountability within the agency. Yet for almost 20 years the commission has delegated that authority to the Office of General Counsel. Under only limited circumstances can the commission vote on the general counsel’s decision to intervene in litigation and these narrow exceptions are not always clear.
As a result, the general counsel has almost complete control over EEOC’s enforcement agenda. This cannot be what Congress intended and it’s having a real impact on the lives of workers. One case initiated by the general counsel was later rejected by a federal district judge. The judge described the commission’s actions as a “sue first, ask questions later litigation strategy” and noted that “dozens of potentially meritorious sexual harassment claims may now never see the inside of a courtroom.”
Finally, is it in the best interests of workers and employers when the commission pursues regulatory policies that may make workplaces less safe? In April 2012, EEOC revised its long-standing guidance on the use of criminal background checks. Should the background check reveal a criminal offense, employers will have to conduct an “individual assessment” and identify a “business necessity” that merits denying the individual employment.
However, this proposal has already been criticized by one federal court. As one federal judge noted almost 25 years ago, “Obviously a rule refusing honest employment to convicted applicants is going to have an disparate impact upon thieves.”
This policy also puts many employers at risk of running afoul of state or local laws that require background checks for certain positions of public trust, such as child care providers. Employers will bear the burden of any unintended consequences stemming from this regulatory change, not EEOC.
Yet they and the public were denied an opportunity to comment on the proposal before it became final. Public meetings on broader topics isn’t the level of openness and transparency the American people deserve. Shouldn’t workers and employers have an opportunity to comment on policy changes that affect their workplaces?
Chair Berrien, these are serious questions that I hope we can discuss with you today. I know that is a lot to address in one hearing. However, we hope this hearing starts a new, more open dialogue between the committee and EEOC. As I noted earlier, we all share the same goal and only when we work together can we move closer toward that goal. Thank you again for being with us today.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, delivered the following prepared remarks at today’s Secretary of Transportation confirmation hearing for Anthony R. Foxx:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this hearing today.
This hearing gives our Committee the opportunity to perform one of the most important Constitutional responsibilities provided to members of the U.S. Senate: the power to give advice and consent on the President’s executive and jud...
House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) released the following statement in support of H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act:
“If Washington intends to be focused on jobs, then the Keystone XL Pipeline is a no-brainer,” said Chairman Graves. “Last week, our Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade heard from a labor official and small business owners, including one that President Obama visited on Friday, that they want the Keystone XL Pipeline project to move forward. The project would boost the demand for various skilled labor occupations, and create an estimated 42,100 jobs, many of them with small businesses. For something like this to be delayed more than 1700 days is unacceptable. Small businesses across the nation want to grow and hire, as Americans are demanding work. This Keystone Pipeline project is what we should give them.”
Notable Quotes From Last Week’s Hearing:
Brent Booker, Secretary Treasurer, Building and Construction Trades Department, Department, AFL-CIO, Washington, DC, said, “America's Building Trades Unions emphatically support the construction of the Keystone pipeline which will move oil from deposits in Canada to existing refineries in Texas, Oklahoma and the Midwest. Our unions have been actively involved with this project for almost 5 years now, and we are adamant in our belief that the economic, energy security, and national security benefits associated with the construction of this pipeline are too many and too significant to allow it to be derailed by a narrow and misguided political agenda being advanced by a small minority of ill-advised environmental groups.”
Peter Bowe, President and CEO, Ellicott Dredges, Baltimore, MD, testifying on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers, said, “One way or the other, Canadians will eventually solve their distribution problems, with or without US governmental collaboration. To the extent this process is delayed, the producers will suffer economic loss, and their US suppliers, like Ellicott Dredges will suffer as well, including diminished employment.”
Mat Brainerd, President, Brainerd Chemical Company, Tulsa, OK, testifying on behalf of the National Association of Chemical Distributors, said, “My industry would benefit from building the pipeline in three distinct ways. First, like many industries, chemical distribution benefits from economic growth generally. Second, building the pipeline would reduce our costs for aromatic and aliphatic chemicals, diesel and rail tank cars. Third, it would benefit the economics of hydraulic fracturing, which is an important market that many in our industry serve.”
Dr. Christopher R. Knittel, William Barton Rogers Professor of Energy Economics, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, said, “A recent Cambridge Energy Research Associates analysis finds that the average Canadian tar sands oil is cleaner than heavy Californian and heavy Venezuelan oil. These two sources are the likely oil sources that Canadian tar sands would replace. Given this, it is possible that the Keystone XL pipeline might actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
While our country's small businesses continue to struggle to produce consistent job growth, the Keystone XL Pipeline would provide a needed boost to our economy. The pipeline will jumpstart local economies, creating an estimated 42,100 jobs, many of them with small businesses.
Last week, the Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade held a hearing on the economic benefits of the pipeline. Small business owners also shared how the Keystone XL pipeline would affect their business through the Committee’s interactive website, “Small Biz Open Mic.”
The economy here in Kansas is sluggish at best. I lost all of my trained help 5 years ago when the economy tanked and I could not keep them busy. Those employees have moved on or are enjoying their un-employment benefits and do not wish to return to work. I am slowly finding responsible people to replace them. Kraus Electric LLC is in the electric generator and pump business. I feel we could greatly benefit from the Keystone pipeline and any spin-off business created from the installation and later up-keep of the pumping stations. Kansas has several refineries in the Arkansas City and El Dorado areas that could be re-vitalized and put that oil to good use here in on the high plains.
Lee Kraus (Scranton, KS) Kraus Electric LLC, May 20, 2013
Bottom line We need to put people back to work. When Americans are working the spend money. Guess where? You got it in our businesses. I belive this pipeline should be allowed to be put in. This will make our dependence on over seas oil start going away, which in return should make our fuel prices go down. This will also help get America back on its feet.
Michael Friend (Wyandotte , OK) Firingline, May 20, 2013
I am fully in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and any other project that promotes energy stability in the is country and produces jobs and expands the tax base. I feel that if good projects such as this one are left alone, they will take a lot of the financial pressure off the economy and allow improved growth. It benefits us all.
Huey Segura (Breaux Bridge, LA) Bates RV Rentals, May 20, 2013
I do think not only would it get more jobs, but its quite possible it would lower fuel costs, and lower our dependence on over sea oil. I am all about the conservation of wild life habitat and the grasslands and mountains it would traverse.
Stephen Stringham (Providence, UT) Logan Door Service, May 21, 2013________________________________________________________________________________________
This is development just like housing, highways, schools or hospitals. We need and use energy and oil and gas is a fact of life in the consumption and implementation our country needs for operational movement. The environmentalist have not made a good case of alternative energy options, as they represent less than 4% of our total usage. Obviously they are not cost effective or easily funded as fossil fuels. Build the pipeline for future generations. This resource will be our future for another one hundred years, until we learn to harness solar and other alternative resources in a fundamental and cost effective way. Pipelines have an excellent safety record as do fracking procedures, so please get beyond your unrealistic bias.
Steve Jordan (Ardmore, OK) Jordan Insurance Group, May 21, 2013
I own a small business in western South Dakota. Our primary market is this region that includes the oil fields of North Dakota and Wyoming. I am support of the Keystone Pipeline; however, I do want to see a larger percentage of total capacity dedicated towards moving oil out of the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. The many jobs that will be created by the construction and maintenance of the pipeline will be of benefit but only those jobs are temporary. The long term benefit will come if we are moving US oil and the oil fields are sustainable for the long term.
Bryan Vulcan (Rapid City, SD) FourFront Design, Inc, May 21, 2013
What are we doing to grow our economy? to secure our National Energy needs? We have the largest hydrocarbon reserves in the world. They are locked up by environmental rules and roadblocks. We must move now to unlock these as our fastest path to saving our country financially and from the national security standpoint. The Keystone Pipeline decision has certainly made us more vulnerable and protected no one -- the oil will now not be used to drive our country by the U.S. but will be used to drive our non-friends economic engine, the Chinese. Contrary to solar, the product of this work fits right into our existing infrastructure and transportation industry.
Lawrence Cerenzie (Spanish Fork, UT) Cerenzie Engineering Consultants/FSC Coatings, March 2012
Recognizing the importance of entrepreneurs’ feedback in the process of shaping the very policies that will help determine their business sustainability and growth, Chairman Graves launched Small Biz Open Mic in September of 2011.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to examine the administration’s budget and policy proposals. During the hearing, members spoke with Secretary Duncan about the need to address the upcoming student loan interest rate cliff with a lasting solution that will better serve students and taxpayers.
“The committee recently approved with bipartisan support the Smarter Solutions for Students Act,” said Chairman Kline, “legislation that mirrors the president’s proposal to tie student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note… I hope the administration will work with us to move this bill quickly through the legislative process and into the president’s hands before the interest rate cliff hits millions of students on July 1st.”
In an exchange with Chairman Kline, Secretary Duncan affirmed his support for enacting a long-term solution to the student loan interest rate issue “sooner rather than later”:
We have to start taking on tough issues, we have to take them on in a bipartisan way and we have to think for the long haul… The fact that we can’t think long-term, the fact that we can’t take a tough issue deal with it, move it off the table move onto other issues, I just don’t understand that thinking. So we are interested in a long-term fix, we are interested in it being budget-neutral and look forward to continue conversations with you and others to find some common ground.
The Smarter Solutions for Students Act (H.R. 1911) will be up for consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives later this week. To learn more about the legislation, visit edworkforce.house.gov/SmarterSolutions.
To read witness testimony, opening statements, or watch an archived webcast of today’s hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
# # #
Congress has only begun working on student loans this year, and already it’s going better than last year’s debacle.
Election-year politics drove Congress and the White House to endorse a bumper-sticker policy — keep loan rates from doubling! — instead of looking at the substance. Lawmakers rushed to extend a 3.4 percent rate on certain new loans instead of allowing the rate to revert back to 6.8 percent. That doesn’t sound bad to borrowers, but it reflects the weird fact that those loan rates aren’t pegged to anything real, just to the whims of Congress, which inevitably uses student loans as political playthings.
This year, President Obama proposed pegging loan rates to the rate at which the government borrows, plus a relatively modest markup. On Thursday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee endorsed a similar policy. Its bill may reach the House floor this week. Other plans are being discussed in the Senate.
Though each plan differs in some important details, the basic point is that rates would reflect economic conditions instead of politics. Under any of the proposals, students — risky borrowers with little-to-no credit history — would still get a tremendous bargain relative to what private lenders would offer. But the size of that interest-rate subsidy wouldn’t unfairly fluctuate with Treasury yields. And generous income-based repayment programs would effectively limit the interest rate many borrowers would face over the course of repayment. Backers of the president’s plan and those behind the House’s say the proposals are designed to be roughly budget-neutral over 10 years. There’s no reason to delay passing such a policy.
Yet these plans are also limited. Interest-rate setting is just the beginning of the debate that lawmakers must have on student borrowing. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently profiled a woman who borrowed more than $300,000 in graduate student loans and used some of it to finance home repairs. But, depending on where she ends up working, she could be eligible for a massive principal and interest amnesty.
Instituting an income-based repayment program is an important piece of the system to ensure that students don’t face crushing debts after graduating. But lawmakers must also fix the kinks that may encourage excessive borrowing with too few restrictions, particularly for those who end up with large incomes.
Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House education committee, says that these and other issues will be part of a broader discussion Congress will have as it considers reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, which expires the end of this year. For the health of the country’s vaunted college and university system, not to mention the federal budget, lawmakers must maintain their strong start and do some serious policymaking this year.
To learn more about H.R. 1911, visit edworkforce.house.gov/SmarterSolutions.
I’d like to begin with a brief overview of what’s in the administration’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The president has asked for more than $71 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Education – up $5 billion from last year’s request and $3 billion from the year before.
This is on top of a request for $7 billion in mandatory funding for Pell Grants, $17.5 billion to “reform the teaching profession,” and $1.3 billion for a new universal preschool program – bringing the total budget proposal to a staggering $97.1 billion.
Without question, the president’s budget for the Department of Education has exploded over the last five years. The roughly $60 billion spent by the department in 2009 seems almost reasonable by comparison. Yet despite this significant increase in education spending, we haven’t seen any measurable improvements in student performance or graduation rates.
It’s time to acknowledge the fact that throwing more money into the nation’s education system is not the right answer to the challenges facing our classrooms. We’ve tried it for decades now. Since passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, federal spending on education has increased nearly every single year. But we just aren’t seeing results, so we need to work together on a new way forward that will better serve students and taxpayers.
Now let’s discuss an important item that is not in the budget.
Mr. Secretary, considering the glut of new spending in the president’s budget, the lack of funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is simply appalling. Per the law, the federal government is supposed to fund up to 40 percent of the costs of educating students with special needs, but once again, the administration’s budget does not even come close to that figure. In his budget request, President Obama’s contribution to IDEA remains at a paltry 15 percent.
I am concerned that instead of meeting our commitments and improving existing initiatives, the administration continues to propose more spending for new, untested programs. For example, instead of more IDEA funding, the president has proposed an expansive early childhood initiative. While we all recognize the value of quality early learning experiences, we must remember a number of programs with similar goals are already out there, including Head Start, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and dozens of state preschool programs nationwide.
Reforming and improving existing programs throughout our education system should take precedence over new initiatives, and I believe this is one area Congress and the administration can work together. A large part of this effort must be rewriting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
While I have made my concerns with the waiver process abundantly clear, I recognize the importance of freeing states and school districts from the law’s outdated metrics and regulations. However, this must be done through a full reauthorization of the law – not executive fiat.
Secretary Duncan, you and I agree on the importance of restoring local control and flexibility. You and I agree we must empower parents in our education system, and support school choice initiatives. And you and I agree teachers should be judged on their ability to motivate students in the classroom.
You have been repeatedly quoted in the press stating that you want Congress to reauthorize the law. The committee will soon renew its efforts to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and this time, I ask for the administration’s leadership as we work to advance legislation through the House and Senate, get through the conference process, and put a new law on the president’s desk before the end of the 113th Congress.
Let me end on a positive note. I appreciate that, like Republicans, the president has acknowledged the value of moving student loan interest rates back to a market-based system. As you know, the committee recently approved with bipartisan support the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, legislation that mirrors the president’s proposal to tie student loan interest rates to the 10 year Treasury note.
I am grateful for the time you have spent working with us on this proposal, Mr. Secretary. Your input was very valuable. I hope the administration will work with us to move this bill quickly through the legislative process and into the president’s hands before the interest rate cliff hits millions of students on July 1st.
Again, thank you for being with us today. I would now like to yield to the senior Democratic member of the committee, George Miller, for his opening remarks.
# # #
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will testify before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday, May 21 to discuss the Department of Education’s priorities for Fiscal Year 2014. In advance of the hearing, the committee has compiled 5 key questions Secretary Duncan should address:
Question 1: Will the administration support the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, legislation that largely mirrors President Obama’s plan to address the upcoming student loan interest rate cliff?
The Smarter Solutions for Students Act (H.R. 1911), introduced by House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), passed the committee with bipartisan support and is expected to come before the House of Representatives later this week. H.R. 1911 is similar to a proposal put forth in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget plan that would move all federal student loans (except Perkins loans) to a market-based rate. Will the administration endorse H.R. 1911, or turn a blind eye under pressure from congressional Democrats?
Question 2: Is the department willing to work with Congress to reauthorize No Child Left Behind?
The Department of Education in 2011 began issuing temporary and conditional waivers from provisions under No Child Left Behind to states that agreed to adopt the administration’s preferred education reforms. This unprecedented executive overreach continues to undermine congressional efforts to rewrite the nation’s K-12 law. Secretary Duncan has repeatedly said he wants Congress to reauthorize the law, but will he support the committee’s efforts to do so in the 113th Congress?
Question 3: How will the president’s new Preschool for All proposal work better than existing federal and state initiatives?
President Obama’s budget requests $1.3 billion (and $75 billion over the next 10 years) for an expansive new early childhood education program. Chairman Kline has raised serious questions about the wisdom of piling another preschool initiative on top of several existing early childhood education programs, many of which are not working as effectively as we’d hoped. Can Secretary Duncan explain why it’s more important to create a new program instead of reforming and improving current initiatives?
Question 4: Why is the Department of Education requesting additional funding for new programs instead of meeting its existing commitments to students with disabilities?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) stated the federal government would fund up to 40 percent of the additional costs of educating students with disabilities. However, President Obama’s budget does not even come close to that figure with contributions to IDEA set at 15 percent. How does the department justify billions in new spending without keeping its promise to special needs children?
Question 5: What efforts are being taken to evaluate the department’s initiatives to eliminate duplication and waste?
Since the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, federal education spending has increased nearly every year. The Department of Education now administers more than 80 programs tied to K-12 classrooms. Yet despite this massive bureaucracy, studies show American students are falling behind their international peers – making it even more crucial to reevaluate the federal role in the nation’s classrooms. Will the secretary acknowledge that it’s time for a new way forward – one that doesn’t assume more federal dollars is the only way to improve student achievement and put kids on the path to success?
To learn more about tomorrow’s hearing, click here.
# # #
The purpose of the research study on states’ regulatory flexibility activity was to evaluate to what extent states went to mitigate the impact of state regulations on small businesses. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) at the federal level requires agencies to minimize the impact of their regulations on small entities without compromising their regulatory objectives. States versions of the RFA, the research indicates, are/have been following different paths to the requirements and are having mixed results.
Sweaty palms…dry mouth…jitters…mind is racing…you wish you could just run and it would be over.
We all have experienced those pressure packed situations in our life. You are about to go in for that big make or break job interview/presentation…you’re about to give that big speech…or step into the ring for any one of the many pressure packed or nerve racking things we all experience in life. How do you prepare for those pressure packed moments? I know how those moments can be nerve racking…especially when you are not doing it on a regular basis or even worse it is your first or second time.
What would you say if I told you just before you “step on stage” to go into the bathroom and get big, take up space, open up, and get into a power pose…now hold it for two minutes. What’s a power pose you ask? Stand tall with your shoulders back, put a smile on your face and put your hands on your hips like you are a badass…now stand there like that for 2 minutes.. Do you think I’m nuts and it is just hocus-pocus…do you think this kind of stuff does not work? Think again…your body and what you do with it can change your mind…there is science to prove it. One of my wife’s good friends, Carolyn Driscoll, who subscribes to Monday Morning Mojo sent me this video a couple of weeks ago thinking it might have good content for a mojo. It is a bit long, but I promise if you take the time to watch it, whether you are a kid in school, an athlete, a business person, or you are just looking to have a better life you won’t be disappointed. It may make the difference between knocking it out of the park in those pressure packed moments or getting your block knocked off…really. So, grab your cup of Joe and watch it to the end…you will be moved and you will be a believer…I guarantee it.
Get Big, be powerful and fake it until you become it!!!!!
“Massive and Consistent Action = Massive and Consistent RESULTS!!!”
$3M in Broken Promises to Small Business
In his 2013 State of the Union, President Barack Obama said, “[o]ur government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep.” When it comes to small business policies, the lofty promises have faded to pretensions.
Read the article online HERE.
© 2013 Women Construction Owners & Executives | firstname.lastname@example.org