Economics and Finance

Registered apprenticeship programs combine structured learning with on-the-job training and upon completion, participants receive an industry issued, nationally recognized credential that certifies occupational proficiency. Program duration ranges from one to six years with a majority lasting four years.

The U.S. Department of Labor is now accepting applications from public and private partnerships to receive one of approximately 25 grants to expand registered apprenticeship programs in high-skilled, high-growth industries like healthcare, biotechnology, information technology and advanced manufacturing. The grants will be worth $2.5 million to $5 million each with a total of $100 million awarded.

This act allows active duty service members to cancel and reinstate services like cable, internet, and health club memberships. In order to cancel or reinstate services, a member of the armed services must provide orders proving they have been called into active duty. Qualifying active duty members may be able to reinstate services under the same terms and conditions before cancellation due to active duty call-up.

The growing use of social media in the U.S. has had implications in both the employment and educational contexts. In recent years, some employers and educational institutions have asked current and/or prospective employees or students to grant the employer or school access to social media accounts. From 2012-2014 (as of September 2014), nineteen states enacted varying legislation addressing access of this type (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin), and numerous additional bills on the topic were introduced.

This act makes it a crime and Class D felony to manufacture, import, install, or reinstall a nonfunctional or counterfeit airbag. It also makes it a crime, punishable by the increased penalty, to knowingly sell, offer for sale, manufacture, import, install, or reinstall a counterfeit or nonfunctional air bag, as defined in the act. Further, selling or offering for sale a replacement device that the seller knows or reasonably should know does not meet federal airbag safety standards will be considered an unfair or deceptive trade practice under state law.

This act extends certain basic labor rights and protections to domestic workers. Specifically, this measure prohibits an employer from discharging or discriminating against an individual employed as a domestic in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of that individual's race, sex including gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, color, ancestry, disability, or marital status; applies the wage and hour laws to domestic workers except for individuals employed in domestic services on a casual basis and individuals providing companionship services for the aged or infirm; and adds definitions of “casual basis”, “companionship services for the aged or infirm”, and “domestic service” to the state’s wage and hour laws.

With passage of this Act, Vermont enacted what observers believe is the first state anti-patent “troll” legislation in the country. Though the law still provides for legitimate claims of patent infringement in accordance with federal law, it will, however, require more detailed allegations in licensing demand letters and it increases the potential cost of making a baseless claim. Under the new law, demand letters must include detailed information about how the Vermont product, service or technology infringes on an existing patent. The demand letter must also allow for a reasonable amount of time for the licensing fee to be paid. The penalty for a bad faith claim is a bond equal to the cost of litigating the claim for the Vermont company. Violators risk being brought into court in violation of state law and the attorney general can also file suit against patent trolls who target Vermont companies without legitimate claims.

This act requires that economic development tax incentives undergo regular and rigorous evaluations including details on the scope, quality and frequency of those reviews and how evaluations should be linked to budget decisions.

This joint resolution makes permanent the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board’s rule that all home inspectors must make a written notation if they see yellow corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) during the course of their inspection. The home inspector is required to notify the homeowner in writing that only a licensed electrical contractor can determine if the yellow CSST is properly bonded and grounded per the current National Fuel Gas Code and as required by the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Bonding is provided primarily to prevent a possible electric shock to people who come in contact with the gas piping and other metal objects connected to the grounding system.

What if a middle-skills job—one that requires more education than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree—could be a ticket to the middle class? It’s possible, experts say, but not enough state policymakers are taking the steps to help ensure the middle can grow. It’s going to take good data, innovative programs and the will to work together, experts say, but growing the middle class can be done.

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