On Thursday, the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee reported out of committee H.R. 4297, also known as the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The bill was reported with a party line vote of 23-15, and contains several provisions that will be beneficial to libraries including:
- Ensuring that state plans includes a description of the actions that will be taken by the state to foster communications, coordination, and partnerships with non-profit organizations — including public libraries, and
- Ensuring that local plans include a description of the strategies and services that will be used in the local area to better coordinate workforce development programs with employment, training, and literacy services carried out by non-profit organizations — including libraries, and
- Authorizes public libraries that carry out employment, training, and literacy services as additional one-stop partners.
Unfortunately, an amendment offered by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) that would have allowed states to also have the ability to support employment resource centers in public libraries, was narrowly defeated by the committee. Representatives Todd Platts (R-PA), Richard Hanna (R-NY), and Joe Heck (R-NV) crossed party lines to vote in favor of Rep. Holt’s amendment.
Next H.R. 4297 will be brought before the House Floor. No date has yet been scheduled for such an action.