Thursday, August 1, 2013

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) ReauthorizationLegislative Update

Today, the Senate HELP Committee Passed the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Reauthorization bill S. 1356 out of committee.  The vote was 18 “yes” votes, 3 “no” votes (Senator Burr-NC, Senator Roberts-KS, and Senator Scott-SC), and 1 abstention (Senator Paul-KY).  Unfortunately, Section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act and the transfer of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to the U.S. Department of Labor were not removed from the bill. 

Now the bill will go to the Senate floor for debate and a final vote.  Fortunately, the inclusion of Section 511 in the WIA reauthorization affords us an opportunity to broaden our subminimum wage advocacy to every member of the U.S. Senate.  This is an opportunity for us to expand our efforts to get a Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities bill introduced in the U.S. Senate.

We are working to outline our next steps, and will be hosting a legislative strategy call soon.  Meanwhile, we are asking that each affiliate request a meeting with their senators during the upcoming Senate recess, which will take place August 3-9.  Please let us know if you need any assistance obtaining contact information or drafting the request.

This will be a true test of our grassroots advocacy.  I remain confident in the fact that no organization moves a public policy agenda like the National Federation of the Blind.  We will succeed in our efforts to prevent the Rehabilitation Act from being sabotaged, and we will see the eventual elimination of the unfair, discriminatory, immoral subminimum wage provision of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  In the words of Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, “Come join with me on the barricades, and we will make it all come true.”



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