State Workforce Investment Board Meeting

January 17, 2014: 9:30 AM
Frances Perkins Room, Central Maine Commerce Center, 45 Commerce Drive, Augusta ME

State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) Meeting Minutes January 17, 2014 Frances Perkins Room Central Maine Commerce Center Augusta, Maine

Topic Introduction of State Workforce Investment Board Members and Guests
Present: Fred Webber, Mel Clarrage, Dr. Barbara Woodlee, Wayne Holmquist, Tom Davis, Gail Senese, Kevin Healey, Joanne Harris, Ed McKersie, Dan Muth, Gerard Salvo, Carolyn Lockwood, Rep. Amy Volk, Pete Pare, Meg Harvey, Liz Ray, and Sue Hammond. By Phone: Don Berry, Scott Good, Renee Kelly, and Yvonne Mickels Absent with notice: Dr. Tracey Cooley, Rep. Peter Johnson, Ryan Bushey, Judy Plummer-Beale, Craig Larrabee, and Sallie Chandler Absent without notice: Bill Burney, Laura Boyett, Robert Carmichael, John Leavitt, Sen. Garrett Mason, Sen. John Patrick, Chip Roche, Brian Whitney and Terry Young.
Staff: Tim Sardano, Garret Oswald, Julie Rabinowitz Guests: Jade Arn, Ginny Carroll, Joanna Russell, Jeff Sneddon, Heather Stott, and Susan Wasserott Discussion SWIB Chair Fred Webber called the meeting to order at 9:35 a.m. He welcomed all of the attendees.

Topic Approval of November 13, 2013 Minutes Discussion Fred Webber asked for a motion to approve the minutes from the November 13, 2013 State Workforce Investment Board meeting. Mel Clarrage moved to approve the minutes; Barbara Woodlee seconded the motion. There was no further discussion. The minutes were unanimously approved.

Topic Recap of Meeting with Governor LePage
Discussion Fred Webber spoke about a meeting he, Rep. Amy Volk, and Mel Clarrage had with Governor LePage regarding the SWIB’s current financial status. Fred said that the Governor was pleased with the work of the SWIB and was supportive of its goals. Mel echoed the positive support from the Governor and that he was eager to take action on the State Plan. Mel said the Governor is aware of the funding issues and the reality is the Board needs funding for staff to pursue its activities. Fred personally felt that it was the best meeting he’s had with the Governor, as he seemed aware and educated about the challenges the SWIB faces. He thanked Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette for the work she’s done in educating the Governor and his office on these challenges.

Topic Maine’s Workforce and Economic Development Council Discussion Commissioner Paquette thanked everyone for coming and for the opportunity to speak. She noted that the budget challenges through federal funding cuts have made the Department of Labor take a hard look at how services are delivered. She reviewed Garrett Groves’ presentation at both the November SWIB meeting and the recent National Governors Association meeting in Connecticut, where Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin spoke about the NGA’s initiative on developing sector strategies. After internal discussions, researching best practices in other states, and holding discussions with other Maine agency Commissioners, she presented a structure, still in development, called “Maine’s Workforce and Economic Development Council.” It would align agencies with workforce development responsibilities across the state and bring in members of the business and higher education communities. The Commissioner provided a handout, noting the current state of workforce development, and walked the audience through each page. She spoke about the “We Need Every Mainer” movement she mentioned in her welcome at Garrett Groves’ presentation, and said that leadership and coordination from the top level down, in an inclusive system, would make this a sustainable structure. The structure’s roadmap would aim to change the mindset of the current system from funding focused to outcome focused. It would create an awareness of duplicated efforts (reports, committees, etc.) to better leverage existing resources. Because the structure is still being developed, she drew a potential organizational chart. Additional agencies and partners would be added in the final version as determined by Governor LePage.

Example Only

The Commissioner said that the Council would first look to improve efficiency, map assets, inventory resources, develop industry partnerships, and share data. She explained that, as conceived, the Executive Director would serve both the SWIB and the Council in a coordinator role. Commissioner Paquette provided a recent example where Governor LePage was made aware of the Somali community’s need to translate their education and work credentials from their country to meet job and education requirements here in Maine. Because the Council’s Executive Director would be in constant communication with its entities, that person would be able to reach out to the relevant partners and agencies to identify the programs or resources that could address this challenge, thus meeting the needs of this audience while eliminating duplication of efforts and resources. Fred acknowledged that there is buy-in from key players and noted the Commissioner’s work in educating them on the issues that support why the structure makes sense. He said that in order for it to be effective, the Council needs resources for it all to work. He asked about an Executive Order. The Commissioner said that a letter to all agencies is being developed. Because the structure isn’t finalized an Executive Order would likely be premature. All that is needed to get the new Council started is a letter from the Governor. Meg Harvey and Wayne Holmquist asked where the funding for this Council would come from. The Commissioner responded that there would need to be an assessment of available funds once the structure is in place, and that discretionary funds aren’t available. It would not seek funds from programming. Garret Oswald has been researching structures, funding and timelines from examples in other states. He explained how federal grants have requirements where only a certain percentage of funds can be used on administration and the remaining percentage is to be used on programming. One potential example of formula funding could be where each member agency that accepts federal funds for training and workforce development type activities would contribute a percentage of that administrative funding to the Council. The funds needed to staff this Council and provide seed money for initiatives would be roughly $350,000. Garret said that other states, where they use a similar structure, fund it as strategic planning utilizing the administrative portion of workforce development grants. Tom Davis noted the troubles municipalities are having with revenue sharing and asked where exactly the funds would come from. Julie Rabinowitz said that administrative funds from federal grants allow for strategic planning in their use. What the SWIB does now is strategic planning, and administrative funds from these grants could be used to support it. Garret added that the Executive Director would be able to coordinate the leveraging of funds. He said this structure could look at putting money in the “middle of the table” and then ask who else can contribute, either in-kind or other types of support (facilities, staff, etc.), for this purpose. It wouldn’t be for others to take pieces of the grant award; instead it would say, “here is how much we can put towards growing targeted graduates,” and ask “who else can contribute resources to this pot so that together we can graduate even more?” Discussion continued on funding opportunities and the usability of grants. Conversation followed on how the usability of grants is broken down, such as administrative funds vs. programming funds, and how money can’t be transferred from one to pay for the other. Garret Oswald reiterated that other states have been able to use administrative funds from grants for strategic planning. Ed McKersie added that a structure like this would have more impact if the business community is brought in at the very beginning. He said from their perspective it will look like more infrastructure and that they should be engaged early and often in this process. He also suggested bringing Garrett Groves back to speak with the business community. Wayne asked about the reasoning behind the funding and where we could find $350,000. Garret responded that the next step is to identify the overall money coming into the state for workforce development and have the Council determine the formula. Carolyn Lockwood asked if businesses on the Council will be required to contribute funds to its administration. Garret responded that they wouldn’t be expected to contribute to the administrative funds and that the business community’s initial contributions would be their input. He added that when it comes to industry partnerships, the successful examples from others states were those where businesses contributed to that project’s funds. So for the administration of the council, the business community wouldn’t be expected to contribute funds. For the activities where the outcome is an educated workforce specific to their needs, they would be expected to contribute funds or resources. Discussion turned to the letter from the Governor to other agencies and why not an Executive Order. Julie said that a letter provides greater flexibility in developing this structure as it allows kinks to be worked out and lays the ground work to take to the budgeting process. An Executive Order this early would bind it to a model that may or may not work at the onset.

Topic Legislative Session – Susan Wasserott, MDOL Legislative Affairs Director Discussion Susan introduced herself and passed out a spreadsheet of current bills in the legislative session, which began on January 8. Susan noted the bills submitted by the Department of Labor, including: LD 1698, “An Act To Streamline the Work Permitting Process for Minors and Conform Allowable Places That Minors Can Work to Federal Law” (statutory titles affected: 26 MRSA 773,775 and 777) clarifies the roles of the superintendent and the department and seeks to modernize Maine law by including areas of work for minors that are allowable under federal law, such as bowling alleys and movie theaters. LD 1669, “An Act to Standardize and Simplify the Process for Employers Who Seek to Provide a Drug-Free Workplace” (statutory titles affected: 26 MRSA 681-690) would put in place a single, comprehensive policy managed by the department that is in compliance with all pertinent rules and regulations that must be followed by all employers conducting testing. LD 1668, “An Act To Expedite Training Waiver Decisions for Unemployment Claimants by Transferring Original Jurisdiction from the Unemployment Insurance Commission to the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation” (statutory titles affected: 26 MRSA 1192, sub-sections 6 and 6-C) would transfer original jurisdiction for making approved training determinations for unemployment claimants who are pursuing training outside of the Workforce Investment Act program from the Maine Unemployment Insurance Commission to the Bureau of Unemployment Insurance.
LD 1701, “An Act to Amend the State of Maine’s Work-Sharing Program to Conform with Federal Law” (statutory titles affected: 26 MRSA 1198, work-sharing benefits summary) revises Maine’s work-sharing unemployment program per federal program requirements. LD 1643, “An Act to Enable the Bureau of Labor Standards to Access Federal Reimbursement by Amending State Law To Conform to Federal Law” (statutory titles affected: 26 MRSA 43-45; 561, 569 and 570) would conform state law to federal law, allowing the Bureau of Labor Standards to receive federal reimbursement of up to $400,000 per year for public sector consultation and enforcement services. LD 1677, “An Act To Make Minor Technical Changes to Statutes Governing the Maine Department of Labor” (statutory titles affected: misc. sections of 26 MRSA) is an omnibus bill that clarifies and/or corrects minor inconsistencies in Title 26, the statutes that govern the Department of Labor. Changes include removing outdated language to reflect current organizational structure and job titles and correcting the titles of two standing committees of the State Workforce Investment Board, from “School-to-Work” to “Younger Workers” and from “Employment of People with Disabilities” to “Commission on Disability and Employment.” It also takes a provision applicable to only one standing committee and applies it to all six standing committees as intended in the original legislation. Susan said that lobbyists often testify on behalf of bills at public hearings, but it’s more compelling when private citizens testify and encouraged the Board and its members to attend hearings. There are two Legislative committees hearing these bills: Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED) - Meets on Tuesdays - Note: Public hearings can also be heard online at or Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future (MWEF) - Meets on Fridays - Joint Select Committee that originated in the first legislative session and continued into the second. Unsure about future legislative sessions. - Note: Public hearings can also be heard online at or Susan next spoke about LD 90, “An Act To Strengthen Maine's Workforce and Economic Future”. Its verbiage was folded into LD 1509, the biennial budget. She said the final bill included all of the verbiage about Industry Partnerships but no money. She said originally the committee proposed $1 million per year for Industry Partnerships, which was cut to $500,000, then to $100,000 before ending at $0 after going through Appropriations. Susan said a silver lining is that industry partnerships are now in statute, but they need funding. Susan then addressed a few bills recently submitted. LD 1650, “An Act To Create a Program To Provide Training for Unemployed Workers”; LD 1658 “An Act To Expand and Improve Employment Opportunities in the State”; and LD 1710, “An Act To Retain Call Centers in Maine”. Susan also said that Rep. Berry is sponsoring a bill possibly titled “Know Before You Go” that could provide ways for students to obtain full information before choosing a college. (Note: on Wednesday January 22, 2014 the bill was released as LD 1746, “An Act to Encourage Informed Choices in Planning for Higher Education and Future Careers.”)

Topic Adult Workforce Readiness Task Force and Adult Learners Task Force (LD 90) – Gail Senese Discussion Gail Senese was part of two working groups, Adult Workforce Readiness Task Force and the Adult Learners Task Force, which were created as part of LD 90. She served as co-chair of the Adult Learners Task Force. Today Gail is reporting on the Adult Workforce Readiness Task Force. She said their report to the joint select committee on Maine's Workforce and Economic Future (MWEF) is due soon. It would look at what adult workforce readiness programs are already working well in Maine, what other states are doing, best practices, and where the gaps are in Maine. Gail noted that during the task force’s meetings, they noted that there were many separate groups addressing similar issues but that there was no coordination among them. Their recommendations include a unified approach to adult workforce readiness across the state. The working group’s recommendation focused heavily on sector strategies and how to establish these partnerships, including creating commitment and support, establishing a statewide vision, aligning resources and incentives, utilizing data and research, and the development of high-quality partnerships with policy. Several members noted that this recommendation aligns well with the Maine Workforce and Economic Development Council’s potential structure that Commissioner Paquette spoke to at the beginning of the meeting. Gail continued speaking about the multiple committees created through statute that duplicate efforts. She said the task force realized through this process that such duplication encourages silos. Gail added that the Adult Learner Task Force’s report, due later, is similar to the Adult Workforce Readiness Task Force report. Multiple members sitting at the table acknowledged Gail for her work with the task forces.

Topic Adjournment Discussion Fred Webber thanked everyone for their participation in the day’s meeting and presentations and asked for a motion to adjourn. Wayne Holmquist motioned and Kevin Healey seconded. The vote was unanimous and Fred adjourned the meeting at 12:10 pm.