September 24, 2022

Washington Wire: House Education Committee Releases Discussion Draft of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020


House Education Committee Releases Discussion Draft of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 

One Voice recently received a discussion draft from the House Education Committee of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020. The bill will reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act, also known as the Fitzgerald Act, which has remained largely unchanged since its enactment in 1937.
According to the Committee’s discussion draft, the bill will authorize a grant program supporting the creation or expansion of registered pre-apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and apprenticeship programs. The grant program would also use funds to encourage employer participation and recruitment for individuals with barriers to employment, support national, regional and local level industry and equity intermediaries, and establish or expand educational alignment with programs under the national apprenticeship system. Funding for the grant program will start at $400 million in FY 2021 and increase by $100 million each subsequent year until FY 2025.
In addition, the discussion draft of the bill intends to streamline the standards for registered youth apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. To reach this objective, the bill will codify the Office of Apprenticeship as well as the roles and responsibilities for State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs). The bill authorizes $50 million for the Office of Apprenticeship and $75 million for SAAs in FY 2021, increasing the level for each by $10 million through FY 2025.
Codifying the roles and responsibilities of the federal and state agencies will increase the promotion and awareness of apprenticeship programs through technical assistance, program recognition activities, and increasing diversity in apprenticeships. Furthermore, the discussion draft of the bill proposes bringing together industry leaders and stakeholders, including employers, industry associations, joint labor-management organizations, labor organizations, education and training providers, credential providers, and apprentices to establish a national framework.
Finally, SAAs will be required to submit plans for registered apprenticeship activities mirroring existing state requirements under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and Perkins V. Moreover, the Department of Education and the Labor Department must establish an interagency arrangement to support the creation and expansion of youth apprenticeships, college consortiums, and data sharing agreements. One Voice is currently working with the Committee on completing this update, while making sure manufacturers still have access to short term and customizable apprenticeships.



Labor Department Announces Finalized IRAP Rule
On March 10, the Labor Department announced it has finalized its Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAP) rule. The Labor Department’s rule installs a procedure for recognizing Standards Recognition Entities (SREs) and defines the responsibilities of an SRE. Under the rule, the Administrator of the Office of Apprenticeship will work with SREs and help them recognize IRAPs. Finally, the rule summarizes how IRAPs will function within the existing registered apprenticeship system and address America’s skills gap.
Although Congress has not provided funding for this rule, the Labor Department will use immigration visa fees and other sources to support this new system. One Voice supports the creation of IRAPs, which, when established, will allow manufacturing trade associations to certify apprenticeship in accordance with industry standards.



 EPA Proposes Supplement to Increase Transparency of Data used to Support Regulations
On March 3, the EPA announced a supplement to its proposed Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule. Back in 2018, the EPA introduced the proposed rule, acknowledging the agency’s tendency to not adequately review scientific studies used to validate its regulations. Previously, EPA regulators would convene panelists to review proposed rules without disclosing the scientists advising on the action nor the “science” provided to support the rulemaking itself.
As originally drafted, the proposed rule intended to end the practice of using “secret science” by ensuring data underlying any new regulations are publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation. The supplement revises the proposed rule by requiring the EPA to give preference to studies that only use publicly available data that can be retested and limits when regulators can rely on confidential studies. According to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, this update to the proposed rule "will ensure that the science supporting the agency’s decisions is transparent and available for independent validation while still maintaining protection of confidential and personally identifiable information." The comment period for this supplement lasts 30 days and the agency expects to have a final rule before the presidential election.



One Voice Files Comments on Proposed Changes to the National Environmental Policy Act
This week, One Voice submitted comments in support of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed rule changing how Federal agencies conduct environmental impact reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Under NEPA, agencies review any significant long-term effects an infrastructure project could have on the environment, a process that creates years long delays in critical transit and other activities.
According to the CEQ’s proposal, the new rule will no longer require agencies to consider the “cumulative” effects of new infrastructure projects on the environment. Courts have interpreted that this requirement instructs agencies to consider how an infrastructure project may contribute to climate change, causing considerable delays in construction. Furthermore, the proposed rule will limit the type of projects necessitating an environmental impact review. Now that the comment period has closed, sources expect a final rule to arrive by the end of the year.



Senators File Brief in Support of Releasing Section 232 Auto Report
Last week, eight Senators, led by Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit demanding the release of the Commerce Department’s Section 232 report recommending tariffs of up to 25 percent on vehicles and parts imported from Europe, and other countries besides Mexico, Canada, Japan, and South Korea. With an original deadline for last November, the Trump administration made no decision on whether to implement tariffs nor did it publish the report in the Federal Register as required by Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
Frustrated by this inaction, Congress inserted language in the spending bill passed at the end of last year requiring the Secretary of Commerce to release the report by January 19, 2020. The Trump administration failed to meet this deadline as well, claiming executive privilege. In their brief, the Senators argue that blocking the publication of the report undermines Congresses exclusive constitutional authority over tariffs and foreign commerce. One Voice supports the effort made by these Senators and will continue working towards getting this report released.