Owens Empowers States to Streamline Workforce Programs

WASHINGTON – Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee Chair Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04) introduced the One Door to Work Act, legislation to establish a state innovation demonstration authority in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This legislation empowers states and local workforce boards to pursue innovative reforms to their workforce systems in pursuit of better outcomes for job seekers, employers, and taxpayers.

“Despite millions of job openings, our nation’s workforce participation rate has drastically dropped, and many Americans remain out of the workforce,” said Rep. Owens. “The disconnect between workforce and temporary assistance programs, because of flawed federal law, makes it difficult to monitor success and navigate available options. My bill, the One Door to Work Act, tackles this issue head-on by empowering states and local workforce boards to reform their systems and create integrated one-stop shops for social and workforce services. This approach has proven successful in Utah, where the state integrated its system and rebounded quickly from job losses. Utah is leading the nation, and I look forward to seeing similar success replicated across the country.” 

Background:

  • Federal law prevents the effective integration of workforce and safety net programs. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) allocates the majority of funds directly to the local level, bypassing state governments that oversee temporary assistance programs such as food stamps, TANF, and Medicaid. Consequently, these two systems operate independently.
  • When temporary assistance and workforce systems are disconnected, it is difficult to track success and ensure that everyone can access opportunities for work, training, or education. The complex array of programs creates a difficult and time-consuming process for recipients to navigate.
  • The One Door to Work Act is modeled after the Utah system, which received an exception under the Workforce Innovation Act in 1998, allowing it to innovate and integrate its system into one unified Department of Workforce Services. As a result, Utah rebounded most swiftly from COVID-19 job losses and consistently ranks near the top of the nation in terms of workforce participation and health.

The full text of the legislation is available here

A fact sheet about the bill can be found here.

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