Legislative Update for HR Professionals 3/9/20

Mar 09, 2020

Alissa PenneyBy Alissa Penney

This week saw a lot of legislation actions in the U.S. House and Senate. Get ready for a long list of legislation and how it could impact you!

Some of the laws, acts, and resolutions with new actions on them last week are:

H.R. 1140: Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act of 2020, amendments to the original Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act that would apply the personnel system under title 5 of the U.S. Code to TSA workers. A vote on March 5th PASSED the House and this act is headed to the Senate for consideration. As of today, there's a projected 56% pass rate, so if this is an act that could affect you, now is the time to reach out to your Senator!

S. 1082/H.R. 2148: Be HEARD in the Workplace Act, an act that would mandate specific anti-discrimination policies and business practices for all employers. This one is still in the early stages but has recently gained a bit of traction via the addition of more co-sponsors. Although it currently has a projected pass rate of 4%, it's still early days! This is definitely one I'm keeping my eye on.

S. 3167: CROWN Act, would make workplace discrimination against persons with natural hairstyles illegal, giving it similar protections to racial discrimination at work. California and New York already have similar versions of this bill in place, this would extend similar protection to persons nationwide. This bill was recently introduced and has recently gained traction in the House and Senate via the addition of co-sponsors. It has a low projected pass rate of 2% but is also in early days and is pending committee review before it can move forward.

But wait! There's more...

The following aren't strictly HR-related, but they definitely have implications for some of us HR folks, so I want to include them anyway. If you're into how social economics can impact HR, this might be right up your alley! 

S. Res. 515: A resolution supporting the goals and ideas of Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month. This is a simple resolution and was recently "agreed to" or passed in a vote in the Senate. Because it's a simple resolution, it won't get a vote in the other chamber, doesn't have the force of law, and is voted upon using a "voice vote". All this really does is highlight CTE fields and students to put more public focus on these career fields, but it's important for HR professionals who work in CTE fields especially when used as a recruiting tool!

H.R. 6009: Nuclear Workers' Ombudsman Extension Act, this bill will serve to amend the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 to extend the sunset for the Office of the Ombudsman. This one won't impact most of us, but if you work with Department of Energy contract employees, this one could have a large impact for you. If this applies to you, your risk and safety/QA departments should keep an eye out! It currently has a projected pass rate of 63% and is expected to pick up more traction.

H.R. 4351: Yes in My Backyard Act, the purpose of this act is to discourage discriminatory land use policies and remove barriers to make housing more affordable. This act has PASSED the House and will be on its way to the Senate next. Why does this one matter for HR folks? Well, it has the potential to positively impact any employees you may have who benefit from subsidized housing; any employees who may stand to benefit from expanded CDBG programs; HR professionals who work in construction/laborer industries should expect to see a huge upswing in the number of employees needed to quickly build housing in areas that will be newly rezoned to accommodate single-and multi-family residences. With more available housing, we should expect to see more qualified applicants in areas where we have traditionally experienced 'candidate deserts'. I'm keeping an eye on this one if only to see how the trend analysis plays out... I may have mentioned that I do love a good data trend!

H.R. 5187: Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019, similar to the previous bill, this focuses on providing affordable housing to high need areas. It's still very new but has similar implications for HR professionals to the ones given above plus the added implication for rural HR professionals, especially ones who have employees that live in properties in need of revitalization or are located in high flood areas. It'll be one to keep an eye on, but I don't anticipate any real movement on it for quite some time.

S. 2107: Protecting America's Food and Agriculture Act of 2019, would allow for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire 240 new agricultural specialists to work at various ports of entry around the U.S. This could impact you as an HR professional if (1) you work in a position that would be responsible for hiring these specialists or (2) you work in an industry that could suffer from the competition this introduces. This bill has PASSED both the House and Senate and has been signed into action by the President on March 3rd. If this impact you, you can read the full bill here: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/s2107

H.R. 4334: Supporting Older Americans Act of 2019, this bill establishes, revises, and reauthorizes several programs relating to care for the elderly. If you're an HR professional in an elder-care related field, this could impact your budget and could lead to authorization for more employees for your location(s)! It will also have residual impact for HR folks working with organizations that support elder-care facilities such as food delivery services, workforce training programs, and financial counseling. This bill PASSED both the House and the Senate, but was sent back to the House for revisions last week. It has a 99% projected pass rate, so get ready for it to be signed into action! If this applies to you, take a look at the full bill here: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hr4334

S.893: Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020, this bill requires the President, in consultation with several federal agencies, to develop an infrastructure plan to secure 5G systems/networks for future generations. A long way to say HR professionals in the construction/labor industries will very likely be doing a lot of hiring in a few years! Because of the nature of this bill, it's likely that there will be a high need for more federal contractors as well, so we may see some new companies arise in the near future to help address this need. This bill has PASSED the House and is headed to the Senate for a vote next. It does have a projected pass rate of 90%, so there's a safe bet that we'll see this one signed into action soon as well.

Sorry it's so long this week! There was a lot to sift through, so consider this the eagle-eye view of this week's legislative happenings. I hope you got something out of it nonetheless!

If you're like me and enjoy staying up-to-date and take on a more active role in HR-related advocacy actions, sign up for the SHRM Advocacy team! We do great work and help represent the best interests of both employees and employers.

Join here: https://lnkd.in/eiBa52S

As always, if you ever want to see a full listing of what's happening and when, take a look at the Gov Tracker page: https://www.govtrack.us/

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About the Author

Alissa Penney is the Owner and Lead HR Consultant of A Better HR, an HR consultation company focused on helping small, thinly stretched HR teams do Better work. She loves getting to learn about what makes other HR professionals passionate about the work they do and helping answer difficult HR questions! She’s also an HR for HR contributor and community steward for the Legal & Compliance and Wellbeing groups.


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