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For nearly 40 years, South Dakota Rep. Fred Romkema has run a jobs training center for a segment of his state’s population that he says is too often forgotten. About 140 people with disabilities are currently served at the Northern Hills Training Center, and 108 of them are earning a regular paycheck.
“With the right supervision and training and supports, they can succeed in employment in the community,” Romkema says about his experience working with people with developmental disabilities.
And that job success, he adds, is good not only for the individual, but the community — and the state — where he or she lives.
“There is potential there that we are not tapping,” Romkema says of the state’s population with disabilities. “There is a cadre of potential employees who can certainly contribute in some of the jobs that are difficult to fill.”
Through a mix of legislation and actions taken by governors, new initiatives are being launched in states across the Midwest to remove workforce barriers and to help get more disabled individuals into the workforce.
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The Illinois General Assembly passed first-of-its-kind legislation in December designed to help more workers save for retirement.

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Moving cattle and pigs from North Dakota to Saskatchewan or from Manitoba to Minnesota has always required a lot of paperwork, but until recently, that didn’t slow the movement of animals between Canada and the United States. Because of the two countries’ highly integrated systems, animals have regularly traveled across the U.S.-Canada border for feeding and slaughter.
But a U.S. policy enacted as part of some recent farm bills appears to be inhibiting this movement. Mandatory country-of-origin labeling, or COOL, requires meat from outside the United States to be labeled — and thus segregated during the production process. These rules began to take effect in 2009.

On Dec. 16, the president signed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, the $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by Congress last week. The legislation is a mix between a short-term continuing resolution, known as a “C.R.,” and a long-term omnibus spending bill. The legislation, known as the “CR-omnibus,” funds most of the government through September 2015. The exception is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is funded only through Feb. 27, 2015.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 -  also known as the "cromnibus" - is a $1.1 trillion spending bill that will fund most of the government through the rest of the fiscal year. It was signed by Pres. Obama on Dec. 16, 2014. 

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.

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