Labor Secretary Acosta testifies before House committee on workforce policies and priorities

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On November 15, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Alexander Acosta testified before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce regarding DOL’s policies and priorities under the Trump Administration. During his testimony, Secretary Acosta discussed several key issues of interest to counties, including: DOL’s overtime rule, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the importance of apprenticeship in addressing our nation’s skills gap.

In May 2016, DOL (under the Obama Administration) released a final rule that would have changed the salary threshold for professional employees, also known as “white collar” employees, who are eligible for overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,476. DOL’s final overtime pay rule would have significantly impacted the nation’s 3,069 counties, which employ more than 3.6 million people and provide services to over 308 million county residents. Almost doubling the salary threshold amount for overtime pay would place an administrative and financial burden on county governments, hindering counties’ ability to provide critical services to local communities. On August 31, 2015, NACo submitted comments on the then proposed rule from DOL increasing the overtime pay threshold amount for “white collar” employees.

In September 2016, twenty-one states and dozens of business groups filed suit in the Eastern District of Texas to stop DOL from implementing the overtime rule. In November 2016, federal judge Amos Mazzant issued a temporary injunction to block implementation of the rules scheduled to become effective Dec. 1, 2016. Then in June 2017, the Trump Administration decided not to defend the overtime pay rule and instead released a Request for Information (RFI) in July 2017 to solicit feedback on the Obama-era regulations, which the administration will use as it develops a new proposal. Following these changes, federal judge Mazzant invalidated the Labor Department’s 2016 final overtime rule in August 2017. On September 25, 2017, NACo submitted comments to DOL in response to the new RFI.

Also during the November 15 hearing, Secretary Acosta discussed the importance of WIOA. Enacted in 2014, WIOA provides federal funding to states and localities for job training and employment services. Secretary Acosta stated DOL is committed to helping state and local leaders implement the law as intended and provide the innovation and opportunity WIOA promises. He also noted DOL is currently assisting trade and industry groups, companies, non-profit organizations, unions and joint labor-management organizations to collaborate and formulate sector-by-sector standards to expand high quality apprenticeship programs.

NACo will continue to monitor any changes to overtime pay proposed by DOL, WIOA implementation and apprenticeships expansion and assess their impact on counties.

Additional NACo Resources:

  • Click here to read NACo’s analysis of the impact of the DOL overtime rule on counties.
  • Click here to read NACo’s 2017 comments on DOL’s overtime rule
  • Click here to view NACO’s policy brief on the WIOA
  • Click here to view the full remarks by DOL Secretary Acosta

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