United States: Seyfarth Shaw Policy Matters Newsletter – July 19, 2018

President Trump Signs Executive Order on Workforce Training. Earlier today, President Trump signed an executive order which aims to bolster vocational training, creates a national council for American workers, and establishes a workforce policy advisory board in a push to increase the number of skilled workers in the U.S. Alongside business executives, the President introduced the "Pledge to America's Workers," which commits employers to expanding on-the-job training and apprenticeships. The administration expects the pledge to lead to at least 500,000 new career opportunities for students and workers. Earlier this week, Ivanka Trump penned an op-ed in support of the new initiative, declaring that the administration hopes to "create a workforce culture that fosters and prioritizes life-long learning."

DOL Rescinds Persuader Rule. The Department of Labor formally rescinded the Obama-era "persuader" rule, issuing a final rule this past Tuesday. The controversial rule would have required employers and their consultants (including lawyers) to report their relationships and the fees paid related to persuading employees "to exercise or not to exercise... the right to organize and bargain collectively[...] ." In 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas converted its nationwide preliminary injunction into a permanent injunction, thus blocking the rule from taking effect. DOL said the rule was unworkable because it "impinged on attorney-client privilege by requiring confidential information to be part of disclosures[...]"

See our recently published blog post for more information on DOL's rescission.

Retirement Legislation Gains Momentum. A bipartisan Senate bill entitled "The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2018," or "RESA", is picking up steam in the House as part of a "Tax Reform 2.0" package that could potentially be voted on in September. Lawmakers are exploring several proposals that could make it easier for small companies to offer 401(k) plans and for workers to guarantee themselves an annual income after they retire. During a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), the House sponsor of RESA, pointed to a $4.3 trillion retirement savings deficit in the U.S. and urged action, stating "[y]ou don't want to wait until that tsunami hits you. You want to make sure that you act on it ahead of time."

Senate Sets New Record for Judicial Nominees Confirmed. The Senate broke a record on Wednesday for the number of appeals court judges confirmed during a president's first two years in office. Senators voted 50 – 49 to confirm Andrew Oldham for the 5th Circuit and gave President Trump his 23rd appeals court judge. Senators also broke a record last year for the number of circuit court picks confirmed during a president's first year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called these confirmations the "single most long lasting, positive impact" to be had on the country. Late this afternoon, the White House was forced to withdraw the nomination of Ryan Bounds to serve on the 9th Circuit of Appeals after Republicans were unable to whip the necessary votes for Bounds' confirmation.

NEXT WEEK:

Paid Leave Hearing in the House. The Education and the Workforce Committee will convene a hearing next Tuesday, July 24, on H.R. 4219, the "Workflex in the 21st Century Act." The bill, introduced late last year by Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA), would provide employers who voluntarily offer scaled paid leave and flexible work arrangements with an ERISA-like preemption of state and local laws dealing with those benefits. Tuesday's hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. ET and will be webcast.

Senate HELP Committee to Hold Apprenticeship Hearing. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing next Thursday, July 26, entitled "Modernizing Apprenticeships to Expand Opportunities." The hearing was announced on the heels of President Trump's "Pledge to America's Workers" event held earlier today. The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. ET and will be webcast.

Midterm Election News:

  • On Tuesday, Incumbent Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) won her primary runoff election by a margin of more than 2-to-1. Roby, who is favored to be reelected to the House in November, received a congratulatory tweet from President Trump following her victory.
  • The GOP primary runoff for Georgia's gubernatorial race will take place next Tuesday between the state's Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle, and Secretary of State, Brian Kemp. A poll released last Friday showed the race within the margin of error with Kemp leading Cagle by 3 points. Yesterday, President Trump gave Kemp his full endorsement, which could potentially be the tipping point in the race in a state where the President is exceptionally popular among Republican voters.
  • POLITICO reported earlier this week that the Democratic challengers in 56 House races surpassed their Republican incumbent opponents in second-quarter fundraising. The article drew several parallels between these numbers and the fundraising trends in 2010 when Republicans significantly outraised Democrat incumbents and ultimately won more than 60 seats in that year's election.

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