House Education & Workforce Committee
How Congress can help your favorite local restaurants
By Chris Duggan
San Diego is transforming into more than America’s Finest City. It’s becoming a culinary hot spot. Previously known for its fish tacos and oceanside cuisine, creative chefs from across the United States and even Mexico are filling the city with everything from exotic flavors to good old American barbecue. Foodies from all over are packing into our local eateries to check out the hype.
Unfortunately for our booming food industry, a decision out of Washington, D.C., is threatening the livelihood of the country’s restaurant and hospitality industry. The National Labor Relations Board in 2015 redefined what it means to be a joint employer, or when two companies share supervision of an employee.
It’s no longer clear whether outsourcing the laundry makes a bed-and-breakfast owner liable for workplace safety at the neighboring dry cleaner or if contracting out some renovations puts an authentic Mexican restaurant owner on the hook for construction workers’ unpaid overtime.
The wide-ranging uncertainty that is infecting entrepreneurs could have widespread economic impact, too. Despite chefs and restaurant owners flocking to San Diego from all over, our fine city is experiencing a flat unemployment rate and a year-over-year decline in hiring.
How can that be so? No doubt, much can be attributed to an unstable employer environment.
Business owners are now using their limited resources to buy extra liability insurance and invest in legal counsel to protect the businesses they built. This is money that could be used to expand and hire more employees. The consequences of the joint employer ambiguities on the hospitality industry are a big deal in an area where nearly 35 million visitors spent $10.4 billion locally on tourism last year — supporting 184,000 leisure and hospitality jobs. To help invigorate economic momentum and job growth in San Diego, lawmakers must consider a fix to this standard.
Recently, there has been a welcome flurry of activity in our nation’s capital to try and provide restaurant owners and small businesses with some much-needed clarity. In fact, the Department of Labor moved in June to roll back the controversial decision with an executive order. Both developments prove that policymakers on both sides of the aisle hear the restaurant and small business community’s concerns. But in order to sustain a clear understanding that small business owners can rely upon, Congress must act.
Fortunately, there is already a piece of bipartisan legislation in Congress that would immediately fix this two-year old problem. The Save Local Business Act (House Resolution 3441) would return us to the common-sense definition where a business owner is accountable for his or her own employees, not those of other companies. Additionally, workers would be employed by the companies that hired them, not every other entity they consult for, contract with or provide services to.
Bringing back straightforward employer-employee relationships will make the workplace a less confusing place, where both sides can be confident in the lines of communication and responsibility. This will, in turn, have a positive impact on restaurateurs that are eager to return their focus to making great food.
H.R. 3441 is exactly what San Diego restaurants need. Hopefully, the California congressional delegation will sign onto this bill and continue leading the way for our bustling hospitality community. Our innovative chefs, restaurateurs and best-in-class workers who make this America’s Finest City are counting on it.
Duggan is the director of local government affairs of San Diego, Imperial, Riverside and San Bernadino counties for the California Restaurant Association.
To read the full editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune, click here.
To learn more about the Save Local Business Act, visit edworkforce.house.gov/jointemployer.
Obama's fiduciary rule is already hurting small savers. Here's how to roll it back
By Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN)
Saving for retirement is a difficult challenge for Americans across the country. By one estimate, there are nearly 40 million working families who haven't saved a dime for retirement. It's clear the last thing Washington should do is create new barriers to the financial security Americans need when they retire.
That's why it's so mind-boggling that the Obama administration put in place a so-called fiduciary rule that makes it harder for people to build a secure retirement.
We've always agreed that retirement advisers should act in good faith; we've been saying that from the start. But a rule requiring retirement advisers to serve their clients' best interests is completely pointless if it means many Americans won't have access to retirement advice at all.
For years, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has led the fight against this fundamentally flawed rule. We weren't the only ones who raised concerns. In fact, nearly 100 House Democrats cautioned the Obama administration against finalizing a rule that would "have a disproportionate impact on lower- and middle-income communities."
Sadly, that's precisely what the previous administration settled on. And you don't have to just take our word for it. Even former President Barack Obama's own secretary of treasury, Jack Lew, recently acknowledged the rule will lead to harmful consequences, including "pricing smaller investors out of the financial advice market."
Indeed, according to the American Action Forum, the rule could increase costs on retirement savers by $46.6 billion. Those who can least afford it will be hit the hardest. Many working families will soon find they can no longer afford personal retirement advice, and small businesses will face new obstacles as they try to set up retirement plans for their employees.
We're seeing these predictions come to fruition. Several firms have already dropped the very types of services those with limited savings are more likely to rely on, and it's only a matter of time before things get worse.
A U.S. Chamber of Commerce report notes that 71 percent of advisors surveyed will stop providing advice to some of their clients with small account balances. Perhaps most concerning, the report found that up to 7 million retirement savers may lose access to retirement advice altogether.
For these very reasons, we wish the rule had been scrapped altogether. But from Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta's perspective, his hands were tied. That makes it even more compelling to develop a legislative solution.
To his credit, the secretary also noted that "America was founded on the belief that people should be trusted to govern themselves … Voters elect their representatives to Washington." We agree. As the People's representatives, we have a duty to fix the fiduciary mess.
Our committee recently advanced the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act, which will repeal the fiduciary rule and preserve access to affordable retirement advice. It also amends federal law to require retirement advisers to act in the best interests of their clients. Legislation — not 1,000 pages of red tape — is the right way to address an issue with such a widespread impact.
This legislation proves we can hold financial advisers accountable without causing millions of Americans to lose access to affordable retirement advice. It's our hope that members of both parties will do the right thing by joining together and sending H.R. 2823 to President Trump's desk. The American people are depending on us to do just that.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. (@virginiafoxx), is chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn. (@DrPhilRoe), a member of that same committee, also chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
To read the full op-ed in the Washington Examiner, click here.
I was proud to introduce the Save Local Business Act because it’s good for workers and it’s good for job creators. I appreciate the opportunity to speak in support of this commonsense proposal today.
As a former labor attorney, I can tell you it used to be pretty clear who an employer was. But now, two completely separate employers can be considered joint employers if they make a business agreement that “indirectly” or even “potentially” impacts their employees.
Those are certainly vague terms. So vague that many lawyers may not even agree on what exactly they mean. But we know the real-world impact has been confusion, uncertainty, and growing legal jeopardy.
Here’s what those terms mean to the owner of Wintzell’s Oyster House in my district in Mobile, Alabama. The owner, Bob Omainsky, wrote recently in Alabama Today:
“If we hire an outside landscaping company to keep our lawns lush, I could be considered a joint employer if I show the landscapers where to mow. Or, if I contract a food supplier for certain ingredients, I could become part of a lawsuit if one of their workers complains about overtime pay. The uncertainty is nothing more than governmental overreach that is crippling eateries like Wintzell’s and discouraging growth throughout the restaurant industry.”
There are small business owners in all of our districts who are working hard each and every day to create jobs and contribute to our local economies, and they deserve better than this. They deserve clarity.
Workers deserve better, too. They deserve better than an extreme and unworkable rule that threatens 1.7 million jobs. And they deserve better than unelected bureaucrats interfering with their relationship with their employer for the sole purpose of empowering union and trial lawyer interests.
That’s right. This joint employer scheme was really intended to make it easier for Big Labor to organize small businesses. It’s no surprise that some of the nation’s largest labor unions have been peddling scare tactics and spreading false information about H.R. 3441.
So let me be clear on what this bill does. H.R. 3441 maintains existing worker protections under the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
We are amending the NLRA to roll back the Browning-Ferris decision and prevent future NLRB overreach. And we are amending the FLSA because aggressive trial lawyers and activist judges have made matters even worse by creating a confusing patchwork of joint employer standards across the country.
Again, this bill does not take away a single protection from a single worker. Instead, it ensures the actual employer is legally responsible for providing those protections. If everyone is responsible, no one is.
Some have wrongly claimed that the joint employer standard reflected in H.R. 3441 is somehow a dramatic departure from long-standing policy prior to the NLRB’s 2015 ruling. That claim is quite frankly absurd.
I’d like to remind the members of this committee that it was the Browning-Ferris decision, and actions by Obama-era bureaucrats, that completely disrupted what was once a stable legal environment and threatened countless local businesses as a result.
H.R. 3441 simply restores the commonsense joint employer standard that workers and employers relied on for decades. It clarifies that two or more employers must have “actual, direct, and immediate” control over essential terms and conditions of employment to be considered joint employers.
The bill as introduced is consistent with case law prior to BFI, and today’s markup presents an opportunity to make the bill even clearer.
That’s why the substitute amendment I am offering makes clarifying and technical changes to the underlying bill. I urge all members to support the substitute, as well as H.R. 3441.
To read PDF version, click here.
Opening Statement by Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-AL): Markup of H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act
Today, the committee will consider H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act. Since the National Labor Relations Board unilaterally redefined what it means to be an employer in 2015, more than two dozen witnesses have come before this committee and others in Congress to tell us, in practical terms, what the decision means for the future of American jobs.
We’ve heard firsthand how the board’s decision, and the actions of regulators and activist judges that followed, have disrupted the daily operations of business owners across the country.
The consequences have been far-reaching. Basic, business-to-business relationships that have long been a part of the American way of life and a critical component to the success of our economy have been called into question.
The lines of responsibility for important worker protections are now blurry. Small business owners fear they will lose the independence they worked so hard to achieve. Others who rely on contracting opportunities fear their options for growth, along with their limited stream of revenue, will suddenly diminish.
Meanwhile, many hardworking men and women are left wondering why the relationship they have with their employer is changing, or if unelected bureaucrats or activist judges will dictate that they have a new boss at some distant company.
And that’s not all. While we’ve all been working together here in Congress to support workforce development reforms, we’ve simultaneously heard how the joint employer scheme makes it harder for employers effectively to do their part in addressing our nation’s skills gap.
All of this damage began with one extreme and obstructive ruling. We wouldn’t be here today if the overwhelming consensus wasn’t that the NLRB and Obama-era bureaucrats made serious mistakes.
We’re here today to complete one of the most important steps in correcting those mistakes. Mr. Byrne has introduced the Save Local Business Act with the support of most of the members of this committee.
The bill directly addresses the mistakes the NLRB made when it redefined the concept of joint employment and put so many jobs and livelihoods at risk. And it addresses the mistakes the Obama administration made when it spread the board’s flawed policy to other areas of federal labor law.
Both of our workforce subcommittee chairmen, Mr. Byrne and Mr. Walberg, have carefully examined the statutes under their respective jurisdictions. They worked together to ensure that the scope of the bill under consideration today appropriately clears up the existing confusion and restores the commonsense concept of joint employer for businesses of every size.
American workers deserve to know who they’re dealing with in their workplaces. They should have the power to speak for themselves on matters of pay, schedules, professional development — anything that helps them have the successful life they want for themselves.
In order to do that, they need to know with certainty who their employer is. But both employers and employees have made clear to this committee that the current joint employer standard is confusing at best, devastating at worst, and simply not sustainable.
We have heard them, and that’s what leads us to where we are today. I thank Mr. Byrne for his hard work bringing the Save Local Business Act this far, and I thank all of our members for being here and for ensuring the joint employer problem and this solution get the thorough attention they deserve.
To read PDF version, click here.
To most Americans, the question over who their employer is seems to be an obvious answer. It’s the person who hired them, the one who signs their paycheck.
As a former labor attorney, I can tell you it used to be very clear in legal terms how you become someone’s employer. But that’s no longer the case since the National Labor Relations Board stepped in.
Many people would be shocked to find out that some company they’ve had zero contact with is also considered their employer, in addition to the employer that actually hired them.
Now, we all agree there are times when two or more employers should be deemed “joint employers.” Before the NLRB overstepped, there was a commonsense understanding of the circumstances establishing that joint employer relationship. Both employers had to have “actual, direct, and immediate” control over essential terms and conditions of employment.
This standard made sense. But today, business owners and their employees face a standard vastly different, and far more confusing. They face a situation where a group of unelected bureaucrats in Washington are interfering with their relationship in a way that has created a lot of problems.
The NLRB’s decision and the Obama administration’s actions that followed, in addition to a litany of rulings by activist judges, have inserted a great deal of uncertainty and confusion into the traditional employer-employee relationship. Two completely separate employers can be considered joint employers if they made a business agreement that “indirectly” or “potentially” impacts their employees.
What does that even mean? It’s vague and confusing. Think of it from the employee’s standpoint. There shouldn’t be any room for question on who their employer is.
As for employers, they should have the clarity they need to look out for their employees in the way the law requires. Because in order for employees to have strong protections in the workplace, it needs to be crystal clear who is responsible for providing those protections.
We are here today because we are determined to provide that clarity once and for all and protect jobs and small businesses in our communities. I’m proud to say three of our Democrat colleagues, Representatives Correa, Cuellar, and Peterson, are cosponsors of the Save Local Business Act, and we hope to continue to build bipartisan support so we can restore commonsense to the joint employer issue.
This is an issue of great importance to both of our workforce subcommittees, which is why this critical legislation has been a joint effort with my colleague, Mr. Walberg. Chairwoman Foxx has made the Save Local Business Act a top priority for the full committee, and this hearing will bring us one step closer to moving it through the legislative process.
To read PDF version, click here.
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This committee has been fighting to roll back the extreme joint employer scheme since it first took effect, and for good reason. It’s a threat to jobs, entrepreneurship, and local employers across the country.
We know this new joint employer standard has led to a whole host of real-world consequences, because that’s exactly what we’ve heard from business owners and their employees in each of our districts and before this committee.
We’ve all heard the voices of local job creators who fear they could lose control of their businesses to larger companies. One small business owner, who described himself as the “living definition of the American Dream,” warned the committee that he would “virtually overnight become a manager for a large company.”
We’ve also heard how this new standard has made it harder for small businesses to grow and create jobs in their communities. Kristie Arslan, the owner of a small gourmet popcorn shop, said she was considering opening five new locations through franchising, but the joint employer threat made her expansion plans too risky. She decided she could only open one new store instead of five.
This is just one concerning example of lost jobs and opportunity. So many hardworking entrepreneurs, who took a risk to start their own business, now find themselves in a sea of uncertainty. And it’s not just those in the franchising industry. Many small businesses and local vendors rely on contracts with larger companies, and they are concerned those contracts could soon be harder to come by.
According to the American Action Forum, the joint employer scheme threatens 1.7 million jobs. To protect those jobs, we have to restore a commonsense definition of what it means to be an employer.
I’d like to remind some of our critics that the Save Local Business Act reflects the same straight- forward joint employer test that workers and job creators relied on for decades.
To be someone’s employer, it makes perfect sense that you need to have “actual, direct, and immediate control” over terms and conditions of employment. This clear test does nothing to let employers off the hook for their obligations to their employees. What it does is ensure the actual employer is the one held responsible. And that’s the way it should be.
It’s time to settle once and for all what constitutes a joint employer — not through arbitrary and misguided NLRB decisions and rulings by activist judges — but through legislation. This is obviously an area of labor law that is in desperate need of clarity.
As recognized by at least three of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, this isn’t a Democrat versus Republican issue. The Save Local Business Act is about providing certainty for job creators in each and every one of our districts. It’s about keeping the American Dream within reach.
To read the PDF version, click here.
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Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the Committee on Education and the Workforce spoke on the House floor to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the opening of the nation’s first charter school, and praised the hope an opportunity charter schools across the country provide for students and families.
Click here to watch.
“Mr. Speaker, twenty-five years ago something monumental occurred for students and families who were seeking a new way to pursue a high-quality education.
“Twenty-five years ago, our nation’s first charter school, the City Academy, opened its doors in St. Paul, Minnesota.
“City Academy began a new era for school choice, and provided families with an alternative option to the traditional public school system.
“Today, over 3 million students are enrolled in charter schools, and more than 6,800 have opened in over 40 states.
“Charter schools are not only growing as an option for students, but these schools are also getting results.
“Innovative charter schools are providing thousands of students and families with the hope and opportunity that they can receive a high-quality education, and gain the skills they need to succeed for the future.
“I congratulate City Academy for being a true pioneer in school choice twenty-five years ago, and support the expansion of school choice for American students and families.”
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Chairwoman Foxx Opening Statement: Hearing on “The Sharing Economy: Creating Opportunities for Innovation and Flexibility”
That same ingenuity is what led to the rise of the sharing economy, which is changing the way we live, work, and connect.
The growth of the sharing economy may be relatively recent. But the idea behind it really isn’t a new concept. For quite some time, people have exchanged goods and services, or shared their skills, time, or resources for a fee.
Think about it. For decades, people have found ways to earn extra income through babysitting, renting property, dog walking, holding garage sales, cleaning homes, or mowing a neighbor’s lawn.
What’s taking place in the sharing economy isn’t much different. But the Internet has brought this type of economic activity to a whole new level, and it has empowered people from all sorts of backgrounds to put their entrepreneurial ideas into motion.
There is no question that this growing economic sector has improved the American quality of life. Consumers have more choices. People in need of transportation have more options. Families can easily rent out their home to help pay their mortgage. Individuals have a new way to sell their homemade goods and crafts.
The sharing economy has also helped start-up businesses get off the ground, and it has created new job opportunities that didn’t exist before.
Not everyone is looking for a 9-5 job. More and more people are increasingly drawn to flexible work arrangements, and that’s what attracts them to the sharing economy. They want to be their own boss, control their own schedule, or earn extra cash while pursuing an education.
The sharing economy has provided thousands of hardworking men and women the opportunity to do just that. Today, there are an estimated 3.2 million people working in the sharing economy. 79 percent are doing so on a part-time basis.
This is an industry that has really taken off. And as we have seen throughout our history, innovation often occurs and flourishes during challenging economic times, which is remarkable and should be celebrated. It’s a testament to the strength of our economy and the resilience of the American people.
As the sharing economy continues to grow, we need to make sure outdated federal policies don’t stand in the way. The self-employed individuals who rely on the sharing economy for work don’t fit neatly into obsolete job categories defined in another era. So, there are important questions over how we can modernize policies to meet the needs of the future.
There are also questions over how sharing economy workers can gain access to affordable health care and prepare for a secure retirement. Not every answer can or should come from Washington. Innovation outside of Washington is needed to help tackle these challenges. And I have no doubt that the same creative minds behind the sharing economy will rise to the occasion.
Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of committee members visited the San Francisco area to meet with leaders in the technology industry. We saw the operations of sharing economy companies firsthand. It’s my hope that today’s conversation will build off that experience, inform our future policy discussions, and help all of us better understand the realities of this emerging workforce.
To view the PDF version, click here.
Chairwoman Foxx Opening Statement: Markup of H.R. 2823, the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act
But today, Americans across the country are having a hard time putting enough money aside for their retirement years.
It can be very challenging. Many individuals don’t even know where to begin, and so they turn to a trusted financial advisor to help them plan for the future.
Here in Washington, we need to do everything we can to empower more Americans to retire with the financial security they need. And we have a responsibility to ensure misguided federal policies don’t stand in the way.
That’s exactly why this committee has led the fight against the Obama administration’s flawed fiduciary rule for the past seven years.
Since the regulatory process began in 2010, we’ve repeatedly warned that the rule will lead to higher costs and fewer options for hardworking men and women as they save for retirement.
We’ve held numerous hearings over the years, sent countless oversight letters, urged the Obama administration to take a more reasonable approach, and passed a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act when they failed to listen.
Last year, we even advanced bipartisan legislation that would have achieved the Obama administration’s stated goal of enhancing protections for retirement savers. The main difference was that it didn’t restrict access to affordable retirement advice for low- and middle-income individuals.
It wasn’t just Republicans who raised concerns as the Obama administration crafted this fundamentally flawed rule. Let’s not forget that many of our concerns were echoed by congressional Democrats.
In a 2015 letter to former Secretary of Labor Perez, 100 House Democrats wrote that “it is vital that the proposal doesn’t limit consumer choice and access to advice, have a disproportionate impact on lower- and middle-income communities, or raise the costs of saving for retirement.”
Along those same lines, a group of Senate Democrats wrote that “it is important that any guidance enhance and not diminish savings opportunities for small businesses and moderate income families.”
These concerns expressed by Democrats are precisely why we continue to oppose the fiduciary rule.
Here we are today with a rule that’s completely unworkable and so complicated and burdensome that it will cause millions of Americans to lose access to their trusted financial advisors. According to the American Action Forum, the rule imposes $46 billion in costs on retirement savers.
Many small business owners — who are already struggling to offer retirement plans — may soon find they no longer have access to the critical advice they need to set up retirement plans for their employees.
Already, firms are beginning to drop the types of account options Americans with fewer savings often rely on.
A recent report found that 71 percent of financial advisors will stop providing advice to many savers with lower account balances in response to the rule. And it notes that up to seven million retirement savers could lose access to retirement advice altogether.
These are consequences the American people cannot afford. We all agree that financial advisors should act in good faith. But we can achieve that shared goal without hurting low- and middle-income families and employees of small businesses.
This issue should have always been addressed by Congress, not government bureaucrats. It’s an issue that impacts the retirement security of Americans across the country, and the people’s representatives should address it legislatively.
That’s why we are here today. It’s time to put an end to this convoluted regulatory scheme and advance meaningful solutions that will improve protections for retirement savers.
The Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act will overturn the fiduciary rule to ensure every American has access to the tools they need to save for retirement. It also amends federal law to require retirement advisors to act in the best interests of their clients. Again, legislation — not 1,000 pages of red tape — is the right way to do this.
I want to thank our colleague, Representative Roe, for championing this effort for years. Members of both parties have supported similar legislation in the past. It is my hope Republicans and Democrats can come together once again. The American people are depending on us to do just that.
Statement by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN): Markup of H.R. 2823, the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act
Since the Obama administration first proposed changes to the policies governing retirement advice, we’ve led oversight efforts here in Congress.
As the former chairman of the subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, I presided over a number of hearings where we heard firsthand how this new rule will jeopardize small business retirement plans, make it harder for low- and middle-income individuals to save for retirement, and restrict basic services, such as assistance in rolling over funds from a 401(k).
Although this misguided rule has already taken effect, our fight continues on behalf of hardworking men and women in my home state of Tennessee and across the country.
To be clear, we completely agree that Americans deserve retirement advice that’s in their best interest. That’s what we’ve been saying all along.
But a rule requiring so-called “sound retirement advice” achieves nothing if it means many people will no longer have access to retirement advice at all. According to one estimate, seven million retirement savers may lose access to advice altogether because of the fiduciary rule.
We are just beginning to see the real-world consequences of this rule take shape. Firms are starting to eliminate more affordable retirement account options in favor of fee-based plans that are out of reach for many families with lower incomes.
We don’t have to accept these consequences. We can pass legislation to fix the fiduciary mess while enhancing protections for retirement savers at the same time.
The proposal before us today will do just that. The Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act does not simply repeal the Obama administration’s fiduciary rule; it amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code to establish a statutory definition of “investment advice.”
Unlike the confusing, complicated and unworkable fiduciary rule, this clear standard would require retirement advisors to act in the best interests of their clients without causing millions of Americans to lose access to their trusted financial advisor, and without limiting the ability of small businesses to help their employees save for retirement.
In other words, this proposal achieves the Obama administration’s alleged goal of holding financial advisors accountable without undermining the retirement security of working families.
When the American people face a harmful rule that will have such a far-reaching, negative impact, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to stop it. We cannot stand idly by as a new rule threatens to weaken our nation’s retirement security at a time when so many families are struggling to save and invest. In 2015, the GAO found that 29 percent of Americans 55 and older have no retirement savings and no traditional pension. In fact, today, nearly 40 million working families haven’t saved a dime for retirement.
I hope members of both parties will do the right thing and support the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers so we can strengthen retirement protections and empower more Americans to plan for the future they want.
Chairwoman Foxx Opening Statement: Hearing on “ESSA Implementation: Exploring State and Local Reform Efforts”
ESSA sought to achieve two specific goals for K-12 education: autonomy and accountability.
States and school districts were given new independence when creating a K-12 education program that works best for their own students, ending a “Washington knows best” approach to education.
Additionally, ESSA specifically prohibited the federal government from influencing states’ adoption of particular standards. It also repealed federal mandates for teacher performance and protected a state’s right to opt-out of federal education programs.
Part of ESSA’s goal for state and school district autonomy was to force Washington to remain at arm’s length from states and school districts when it comes to education, and rest assured that this committee will be watching to ensure Washington keeps its distance.
While states and school districts were given more autonomy in ESSA, the law maintains provisions ensuring parents have transparent information about school performance and states and districts can hold schools accountable for delivering a high-quality education to all students.
ESSA also included unprecedented restrictions on the Department of Education’s authority to take back the state and local flexibility guaranteed by the law.
ESSA has stripped away powers of the Department of Education, such as the ability of the Secretary of Education to legislate through executive fiat, or the ability of the Department’s bureaucrats to substitute their judgment for states’.
History made it clear that a top down approach to K-12 education did not serve students, teachers, parents, or the states well, and ESSA directly addressed those shortcomings.
Given the monumental shift in education policy represented by ESSA, it is important that we hear how implementation is progressing. We know the law will not fully take effect until the coming school year, and we will need time to assess its impact on schools and students. However, I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses about the progress states, school districts, and the Department of Education are making.
This committee has been keeping a close eye on this implementation process. Last year, we held four hearings on implementation of ESSA. Today, we will continue our discussion on ESSA’s implementation.
ESSA was truly a change for K-12 education, and I do believe this bipartisan law delivers the proper balance of autonomy and accountability to parents and taxpayers, while ensuring a limited federal role.
This law has the ability to empower state and local leaders to change K-12 education for the better, and that is why it is of utmost importance to this committee.
By Chairwoman Virginia Foxx
Far too often in Washington, D.C., when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That certainly seemed to be the mindset of government bureaucrats during the Obama administration.
In an attempt to solve a problem that didn’t exist, bureaucrats who have never owned a business or made a payroll distorted the definition of what it means to be an employer. It began with the National Labor Relations Board’s 2015 ruling in the Browning-Ferris Industries case, which dramatically expanded the joint employer standard. Then, the Obama administration took this radical policy a step further.
Read the full op-ed published by The Hill here.
By CityBusiness Staff
Congressional lawmakers looking at the impact of an Obama-era labor policy heard Tuesday from a New Orleans-based business concerned that it could derail plans to expand in the Gulf South.
Dat Dog, the gourmet hot dog joint that opened on Freret Street in 2011, was one of several businesses asking the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for clarification on joint employer policy.
Under the Obama administration, the Labor Department significantly broadened the definition of a joint employer, and the National Labor Relations Board said a company could be considered a joint employer even if it had only indirect or unexercised control.
In previous years, the NLRB had said a company had to have direct control over the actions of a subcontractor or franchisee’s employees in order to be considered a joint employer.
Jerry Reese, who handles franchise development for Dat Dog, said the new standard could hurt plans to expand in Louisiana and beyond. The restaurant has put new restaurants in Lafayette and Hattiesburg, Mississippi and announced this year it is looking for franchisees in the Gulf South.
“Implementing our expansion plan will certainly depend on Congress’s willingness to help address regulatory obstacles that make the future growth of small businesses, like ours, uncertain,” Reese said. “As with any business that is fortunate enough to grow, we now face new risks. Joint employer is the most prominent risk on our minds.”
“Make no mistake about it: this policy disproportionately affects small businesses,” he added. “Big corporations have the resources, the attorneys and the economies of scale to adapt to joint employer … It’s the small employers like Dat Dog that may run out of resources before we even get started.”
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, who chairs the committee, said it supports rolling back the joint employer policy to what it was in previous years.
Rep. Todd Rokita Opening Statement: Hearing on “Opportunities for State Leadership of Early Childhood Programs”
While a parent is the ultimate decider of what is best for their own child’s early development, the federal government has had a role in childcare for over 50 years.
With enactment of the Head Start Act in 1965, a by-product of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, the federal government established its role helping promote healthy development of vulnerable children in their earliest—and arguably—most important years.
While Head Start provided greater access to early childhood education for vulnerable families, like many Johnson-era programs, the federal government’s involvement in this space has mushroomed into an overly-burdensome, costly, and confusing network of programs.
Today, GAO will testify on their new report which finds the federal government provides support for early childhood services through 44 separate programs, nine of which have an explicit purpose to do so at an annual cost of more than $15 billion. The two largest are the Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant programs. We will hear that the agencies have done a better job at improving their communications in operating these programs, but that overlap, duplication, and fragmentation among programs remain.
Finding an early childcare or education program is an important decision for many working parents and families. The federal government should not be making the job of navigating the system more difficult through a confusing maze of federal programs.
Luckily for parents, states have stepped up to the plate. Recently, we have seen states take the lead in operating early childhood programs, as well as increase funding for this area. For example, my home state of Indiana has launched a promising new pilot program aimed at helping low-income Hoosier children access a free, high-quality pre-k education.
In 2016 alone, states increased funding by a combined $480 million in early childhood education programs. This is an increase of 6.8 percent from the previous year.
We will hear today examples of how states are finding a better way for children, and are helping small businesses innovate to improve their services.
States have recognized that they are better positioned to help parents when it comes to choosing the services that are best for their child.
For those of us who want to see the federal government take a diminished role in deciding what is best for our children in terms of education, this is excellent news.
States understand their local communities best, and understand what works and does not work for the children and parents within the state.
Today, we will hear about the positive impacts of state centered early childhood programs.
Additionally, we will hear testimony on just how large and cumbersome federal involvement has become. I hope this conversation will help us consider how we might address the redundancies and inefficiencies throughout these programs.
Early childhood development is a critical issue because we are talking about future students, future citizens, and future leaders in the workforce. At the same time, we have a responsibility to re-evaluate the current climate and make sure that taxpayer investments are being used effectively. I look forward to a discussion about the ways we can better meet the needs of American children, families, and taxpayers alike.