tv National Association of Counties Legislative Conference CSPAN March 4, 2019 8:32pm-9:48pm EST
>> labor secretary alex acosta, white house counselor and i was senator joni ernst spoke of the national association of counties legislative congress. topics included trade, and for structure, criminal justice and the opioid epidemic. this runs one hour and ten minutes. >> now it is my extreme pleasure to introduce a former county official, us senator joni ernst. senator ernst previously served as montgomery county i was monitor for the work to eliminate wasteful government spending and protects taxpayer resources. in 2014 senator ernst was elected the first woman to serve in federal from iowa and also became the first female combat
veteran elected to the united states senate. please join me in welcoming senator joni ernst. [applause] >> good morning everyone. welcome to washington dc. yeah, good morning. thank you. greg, thank you for the kind introduction and as greg said i am joni ernst and had the great honor of serving either one in the united states senate and i'm happy to be here today with all of you. it is wonderful to have so many county leaders from all over the country here in the same room and i know there are a number of iowans here. where did they go? there are my iowans.
want to give them a special shout. we were able to visit a little bit today about issues that are important to all of you. many of the folks here from iowa notice and the rest of you may not. i did get my start in politics at the county level and first ran for county auditor in my home county of montgomery in 2004. i held that position until 2011 when i was elected to the iowa defendant. much of what i learned and experienced as a county official has informed my work in the united states senate and perhaps most importantly working as a county auditor gave me a true appreciation for the appointment of local control. many of our state and federal programs are administered or implemented by or in partnership with local governments. local government is truly where the rubber meets the road. for this reason when i look at a policy issue in washington my first thought is always what do
the folks on the ground have to say about this particular issue i relied on local officials across iowa to give me information and feedback i need to make informed decisions and i understand not everyone can make it to washington dc to meet with me i made it a point to visit all of i was 99 counties every single year. that is right. ninety-nine counties every single year. i'm not the only one that does this following in the great footsteps of our senior senator chuck grassley is done the 99 county to work every year and now going on over 38 years. kudos to senator grassley. [laughter] [applause] i know president trump puts an input on all of you and i'm glad to see he bided every county commissioner and supervisor to the white house over his first two years in office.
if you are familiar with my work in the senate you know what might top priorities is to cut bureaucratic red tape and a great galatians that don't make sense. yeah, thank you. [laughter] president trump has been working hard on this, too. based on the feedback i received from folks like you i love the effort in the senate two's scrap the burden some 2015 waters of the us rule. [cheering and applause] probably the number one issue i received feedback on. while the effort in 2015 was ultimately vetoed by president obama the epa has recently proposed a rewrite of the rule i think is reasonable and will provide much-needed certainty for our stakeholders. i know organization found the 2015 role challenging and again, i heard many comments on that
and i'm hopeful the new iteration will alleviate the concerns about the difficult role. because in the best position to determine what's working and what isn't i think it's not only important to listen to you but also to empower you. for this reason i'm supportive of policies the delegate as much authority as possible to the state and the local governments. my good friend and colleague, senator chuck grassley, senior senator from iowa often referred to dc as an island surrounded a reality and congress and federal agencies don't always know what is best for those off the island in your engagement and the valuable input we provide of spring a much-needed dose of reality to this city. to make it easier for our local officials to participate in and
influence the policymaking process i introduced a bill that congress that would require that corridors of executive branch agencies to be relocated outside of washington dc metro area. states and cities would be able to compete to become their new home. this would bring good government jobs to new parts of the country and i think it would also result in a more visible policymaking. this is something that might iowa folks and i were talking about fine stage a little bit and we would love the opportunity to compete for some of these headquarters and it makes sense. for example, usda of agriculture i don't know of too many farmers and ranchers right here in the dc metro area and it would be great for them to move out to the states that they represent. i'm sure many of you are
wondering how the new dynamic in congress will affect what happens on the hill over the next you years and as all of you know after two years of unified republicans controlled we now have a divided congress and while i am sure you will see a lot in the news about the dysfunction and infighting in washington what i want you to know and what you should know is that bipartisanship is still alive and well. we will continue to work together mac there are still things that both sides agree are very important, infrastructure is one of them. in the near future we begin work on the next surface transportation bill, the highway bill and i'm hopeful that potential input structure package is right back up again. republicans and democrats have differences on how we pay for infrastructure and what things might actually qualify in the
package but we all agree it is something that needs to be addressed. another area for both sides came together to accomplish a common goal was the passage of the bipartisan farm bill. these programs like conservation something that's important to our folks back home in iowa now have five years of ability to look forward to providing much-needed certainty and allowing industries to focus on other major issues facing our economy like trade. last year the administration successfully we negotiated our free trade agreement with canada and mexico. i hope to see congress simply approved this new agreement that will provide certainty to a major businesses who export two of our largest trading partners. i also hope as the process moves
forward in ministration can shift its focus to addressing the looming steel and aluminum tariffs mexico and canada finalizing our negotiations with china. iowans continue to tell me they are glad that president trump is finally standing up to china and holding them accountable for their on trade fair practices. there's no denying these ongoing trade negotiations have been hard on counties across the country and they give us an opportunity to create new market access for farmers and manufacturers. encouraged by the recent report that negotiations have made substantial progress in our trade talks with china and hope we seize this opportunity and reach a final agreement soon. yeah, thank you. [applause] we would love to see this done very soon. with new and open markets america's counties both urban and rural five. again, thank you very much for hosting me here this morning.
it's great to have the opportunity to be at this event with you i want to enqueue for all you do and to update you on what is going on in washington dc. thank you so much for the opportunity to be here with you. i'm know i'm always with friends when i'm with county officials. god bless you for the work you do and god bless these great united states of america. thank you all so much. have a great time. [applause] >> thank you very much, senator. fostering conditions for economic growth including labor market policy and closing the workforce skill gap. next we welcome secretary of the united states department of labor alexander acosta. senator acosta has done several important leadership roles and
labor relations injustice. most recently secretary acosta served as the dean of the florida international university college of law. please join me in welcoming the 27th united states secretary of labor, alexander acosta. [applause] >> good morning. thank you, mr. cox for the kind introduction. this is a great time to speak with all of you because our economy is booming. you all know the statistics, on a planet rate, job creation rate and i want to share a few different ones with you this morning and i recently learned
about were particularly important. wages are increasing at the fastest rate we have seen for nearly one decade. here is the interesting part. wages for the bottom and lot increased 6.5% over the past year. that is really incredible. you've seen these new hires and that is great but 70% of all those new hires from outside the labor force, individuals that had not been working or looking for a job that look at the economy and decided we want to work in join the labor force. here is one other. the wages for individuals who make things, goods producing
industries and those who make things and build things and construct things and those who manufacture things for non- supervisory goods produced employees increased more than $2500 last year. that makes a big difference to an individual into a family. i want to share this with you because i think it reflects the truth about this economy and the truth is this economy is getting not just for people back to work but more people back to work that weren't thinking of working before more people in jobs that are being better and better. [inaudible] is something we don't talk about much but it's almost at a record high. the quick rate is the rate at
which people quit their jobs because they find another and better opportunity. that is a reflection of this economy. what are the challenges connect challenges are preparing individuals and offering them the skills that this economy is looking for. for the first time in history for months after months we have seen something we've never seen before. you see more open jobs than individuals looking for jobs. i want to talk a little bit about this and how we can approach this together putting together because all of you are very much our partners in this. 84% of counties have formed workforce training partnerships with local chambers of commerce, cities, states comes to government and forget not 84% but all of you are focused on workforce. many of you are part of our
workforce or chair eight workforce force. you understand that workforce investment leaves the ground for a future. what are we doing and how to be partnered together mac the pledge to america's workers brought together industries the pledge to rescale provide opportunities and so far have pledges for more than explain 5 million opportunities. apprenticeships, apprenticeships are another incredibly important approach. as we look out there in this economy i think we need to take a step back and evaluate what signals do we send to young americans? i was in missouri last week entering an apprenticeship facility for the united brotherhood [inaudible] and it was great. they were getting skills and
learning and when they were done with their apprenticeships there were 15 credits short of a college degree because they had an articulation agreement with their local community college. what i found most impressing about it was they showed me their rate sheet and when young men and women left without apprenticeship programs the lowest starting wage was $28 an hour. [applause] that is a good family sustaining weight. what signals are we sending to young americans? are we saying you only have one path to success in all other paths are no good? or are we saying there are multiple paths and you can go to college and you can study and go be a lawyer or doctor and now
you make a good wage and a boss of debt and it will take a while or you can go be an apprentice carpenter and go build something and you won't have student debt and won't take as long and you also have a good wage. decide what you love and pursue what you love and choose what you love and what makes you happy. the goal is a family sustaining wage. is that the signal or sending in high school? if it is not, as county officials, as local officials, what should you be doing about that? i think this is so important because with young americans out there that might not pursue education because they are told it is college or bust rather than their multiple paths to success. apprenticeships something were talking about quite a bit and i'm proud that since we started
talking about this over the last two years we have reached almost 500,000 new apprenticeships. [applause] we are in the final process and have pending at the office of management and budget and we provided our comments on the final application for industry recognized apprenticeships with the goal of achieving 1 million new apprentices over the coming year. [applause] we have rolled out our apprenticeships .gov website and has three parts. one is for career seekers looking for jobs, one is for educators so they can talk about their programs and a third is from -- as an artificial
intelligence aspect to it that identifies opportunities for apprentices and put them up there. i have a request when you go back home look up the apprenticeship of website think about whether there are a way to plug-in the opportunities in your county into that website so more individuals can see. over the next months, actually this month you will be announcing grants of 150 million to community colleges to further support apprenticeships. these grants are a little different and we asked community colleges to find matching partners in the business community the department of labor has never done that before so why did we do this? what is more powerful? a community college program
unattached to the local economy or a community college program with business partners that have put in there dollars into the program so that the community college is providing the skills those businesses need those businesses are invested, not just your membership on the board through their dollars in those committee college programs and i bet you that curriculum is focused on the local schools that it requires and when it comes time those businesses that invested in those programs are going to hire individuals that are graduating. those $150 million that will be awarded for actually more powerful than that because it has a one-three match. in essence, it will be $200 million of community colleges to foster these
programs. i daresay it's the second round of grant opportunities and very excited about the concept. it is a win win. businesses get the skills they are after and input into the community college system and community colleges get financial support and they get insight into the skills being required. i want to talk about other challenges to workforce. because we have a low on rate our labor force participation should increase and that is why i said it's so important that 70% and new jobs are going to individuals that are not worki working, outside the labor force. we need to engage these individuals much more. i want to talk about individuals that are in prison.
the best thing that we, you can do for this individual can help you find a job. the best thing you can do for the economy is how those individuals become part of an economy rather than recidivate. the best thing you can do for your community estate in your community is give those individuals job in the state in the community again because that is the biggest predictor for individuals not recidivate. reentry is so important and we put out 85 million in reentry and will do a second round. later this march will have a conference where we will invite reentry organizations to washington and provide them with information about all the opportunities available federally to get support and get
assistance. this is so important and one note on this -- i was visiting a prison and it had a culinary program and i thought that was great and i said what's the biggest obstacle when you leave to finding a job? in this particular state not talk about licensing in a minute chefs had to be licensed and if you had a felony you cannot get that license. when you go back home think hard and i know it's very difficult and i know there are a lot of local interests but the card, does every license that excludes a felon really need to exclude that felon and is it really the
case that someone does not have a record can't install fire alarms? or can't be a chef? is the best thing for society include individuals from job opportunities? there is another national workforce challenge i want to talk about and that is opioid abuse. professor alan krueger and i thank him for particular to show how bipartisan this issue is because he works for president obama did a survey and found that 47% almost half of prime age men were not in the labor force took a pain killer, not last month, not last week but yesterday. 47% of men, 25 to 54, not in the
labors force took a pain killer yesterday and the follow-up question was it a prescription painkiller and about one third said yes. a third of men not working took a prescription painkiller yesterday. that is a problem folks. that's a real problem. not just for those individuals but for our economy. and so, you have to work together is opioid issue. it is so important. the department of labor is sponsoring some pilot programs when individuals going into treatment facility for treatment can often take months and what are they doing are they being tweeted? are they watching television or
preparing for the next phase of their life can with the department of labor, what they are doing is providing funding for workforce training someone undergoes treatment because -- [applause] at the end of treatment someone does not have a job, again, what are the chances that they will go right back into their former lifestyle? also to talk about the second program i saw and thought it was so interesting and this was in indiana and they work with employees and this was a tour i took in indiana worked with employees that has a positive and they are able to do this because of a unique law in indiana. in indiana, if you test positive and undergo certain steps like
this pathway to employment i will talk about there is a liability shield against employers is something goes wrong. the employer's have incentivized to do this. this is what the pathway to employment is about. the potential employee denied employment due to a failed drug test has a chance to participate in a personalized rehab program. they go in and get assessed and if there is a likelihood of rehabilitation they keep their job to be different job categories and they can state working as long as they stay in treatment and stay clean. i met this gentleman and he had been working for about 15 years and then went on drugs. i asked him why.
his daughter had been arrested and went to jail. pretty tough. here is the question. is he better off continuing to work as long as he stays in treatment and stays clean? or is he better off being fired? and going home and going into a negative feedback report where he's like i don't have a job, my daughter is in jail, what is the point? taking more drugs and getting more depressed. ... it's very, very good thing. ask, when you go home, think about that, thing about what all of you could do so that you
incentivize employers, where appropriate, to keep individuals employed, people do make mistakes. but when they make a mistake, and the workforce it's critical. once they leave the workforce, it's really, really hard to reengage. let me talk about occupational licensing. there was once a time when one in 20 jobs required a license. now there's different measures, some say one in three, some say one in four, some say one in five jobs require a license. whether it's 2025, or 30%, that is way way, way too many jobs that require license. i was in one state with a license to install fire alarms,
more expensive than the license to practice as a lawyer. think about that. they are imposing financial burden on those who could least afford them. a city recently came up with a license for dog walking. [laughter] not for babysitting, that's okay but dog walking needs a like license. the federal reserve as amended the federal reserve study that 1.4 million hard-working because of this. another study said 1.5 million. estimated 3 million. this is a very card issue. it's very difficult to license. it's all so incredibly important
for the workforce. one of the reasons why is because it discourages people to move into your counties and states. geographical billing, which in our society should be an all-time high is pretty down low. it's low because when individuals are thinking, should i move? one of the questions is, how far is it to get a job in another state? how hard is it to relicense? i want to talk about that issue in particular in one context. i think this is such an easy answer here. there's a reason why every state shouldn't take action. i want to take about that in military spouses. [applause] there are few of you in the room that know about this. our men and women in the armed