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Key Legislation
September 6, 2022 by Goodwill

Goodwill Industries International (GII) advocates for public policies that empower local Goodwill® agencies to deliver employment, job training, and other community-based programs for people who are working to build skills, advance careers, and make better lives for themselves and their families. This list provides information about the key federal laws that contribute to GII’s public policy agenda and impact the Goodwill network’s ability to operate our nonprofit enterprise and provide community-based services. Each section includes links to the primary congressional committees of jurisdiction for each statute and the federal agencies that administer the programs and provisions of the law.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, was enacted in 2014 as the primary federal workforce development legislation. WIOA supports a nationwide network of one-stop career centers through which employment and training activities, including job search assistance, career counseling, occupational skills training, education, or on-the-job training are accessed by jobseekers. WIOA Title I programs include youth, adult, and dislocated worker state grants, Job Corps, and several national programs, including YouthBuild.

 

Rehabilitation Act

As amended by WIOA in 2014, the Rehabilitation Act authorizes federal funding to support vocational rehabilitation (VR) services for individuals with physical or mental disabilities. VR State Grants provide funds to states to assist individuals with disabilities in securing and maintaining employment. The Act also prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment by the federal government and federal contractors (Section 503), as well as in federally funded programs and activities (Section 504).

 

Older Americans Act

The Older Americans Act (OAA), originally enacted in 1965, authorizes a range of programs and supportive services for senior citizens. The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), authorized by Title V of OAA, supports nonprofit organizations in connecting low income individuals who are age 55 or over with earn-and-learn opportunities that improve their economic well-being while providing valuable services to their communities. SCSEP grants are administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

 

First Step Act

The First Step Act was signed into law in 2018. The major components of the Act include correctional reforms through the establishment of a risk and needs assessment system for federal prisoners, changes to federal sentencing law, and the reauthorization of the Second Chance Act of 2007. Title V of the First Step Act reauthorizes numerous grant programs that were initially established under the Second Chance Act of 2007 and provide funding to eligible entities, including nonprofit organizations, to support prisoner reentry projects, substance abuse treatment, mentorship programs, transitional services, and career training.

 

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications. Title I of the Act prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of disability in hiring, career advancement, compensation, and all other aspects of employment. ADA Title III ensures that individuals with disabilities enjoy full and equal access of any place of public accommodation, including restaurants, hotels, theaters, and retail stores.

 

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the primary piece of federal legislation governing special education. The intent of the Act is to ensure that children with mental and physical disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education. IDEA Part B, the largest component of the law, is comprised of a grant program that provides federal funding to states for the provision of special education and related services to school-aged children with disabilities, as well as supplemental grant funding for preschool programs. The Act also supports early intervention services to infants and toddlers. The most recent reauthorization of IDEA was in 2004.

 

Higher Education Act

The Higher Education Act (HEA) was originally signed into law in 1965. The purpose of the Act is to expand access to higher education opportunities through federal resources to postsecondary institutions and financial assistance to students. Title IV of HEA authorizes student aid programs, including Pell Grants, federal student loans, and a range of other programs to assist low-income and first-generation students. In addition, Title VII of HEA establishes several programs to support postsecondary education access and completion for students with disabilities. The last comprehensive reauthorization of HEA was in 2008.

 

Perkins Career and Technical Education Act

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act is the primary federal law supporting career and technical education (CTE). The largest program authorized by the Act is the Title I state grant program that provides funding for the development and operation of CTE programs that combine rigorous academic content with occupational skills training in school districts and postsecondary institutions. The Perkins Act was last reauthorized through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) in 2018.

 

Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act

Originally enacted in 1938, the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) Act uses the purchasing power of the federal government to support the employment of people who are blind or have significant disabilities. The AbilityOne program, authorized by JWOD, provides employment opportunities to people who are blind or have significant disabilities by delivering contract products and services to the federal government through a network of nonprofit organizations.

 

Sarbanes-Oxley Act

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted in 2002 as a corporate responsibility and accountability reform measure. The Act provides protections for whistleblowers and imposes criminal penalties on any entity, including nonprofit organizations, for actions taken in retaliation against whistleblowers who report suspected illegal activities. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act prohibits the destruction or alteration of documents that should be maintained for use in official proceedings.

 

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), first enacted in 1994, prohibits employment discrimination against individuals who serve in the armed forces. USERRA’s prohibitions cover a range of discriminatory employment practices, including the denial of employment opportunities, reemployment, retention, career advancement, and benefits.

 

Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act

The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRA) prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against veterans of the Vietnam era in employment. The Act also requires covered employers to take affirmative actions to recruit, hire, promote, and retain Vietnam-era veterans.

 

Farm Bill

The Agriculture Improvement Act, the most recent omnibus farm bill, was signed into law in 2018. The reauthorization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was a major component of Title IV of the 2018 Farm Bill. SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is a domestic nutrition assistance program that provides benefits to qualifying low-income households that can be exchanged for food at authorized retailers. The SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) Program is a source of federal funding that allows states to deliver employment, training, and supportive services to individuals receiving SNAP benefits. Through SNAP E&T services, participants engage in work experience or skills training to help them secure stable employment and become self-sufficient.

 

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was created in 1996 through the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. TANF funds are distributed to states as a block grant to provide cash assistance payments to needy families with children and support a range of other benefits, services, and activities. The law gives states broad flexibility in designing and implementing state programs operated with TANF funds and emphasizes work participation for TANF recipients. Congress has reauthorized TANF through a series of short-term extensions.

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