Finally, MN01 Congressman Jim Hagedorn has authored his first legislative bill … on September 24, 2019, H R 4469 the American Workforce Employment Act was introduced.
Note : Some constituents may have read that Congressman Hagedorn “is author of the Student Empowerment Act” … which implies that he was the originator and driving force behind H.R. 621 the Student Empowerment Act. Actually, the author is Jason Smith of Missouri … who offered it last term (and over a year ago) as H. R. 6674. Congressman Smith offered it again this year on January 16 … and Congressman Hagedorn did not become a co-sponsor until May 21st.
The impressive sounding, American Workforce Employment Act, may be more hype than actually producing results … but suggest to the uninformed voter that Congressman Hagedorn is doing something that will help a wide group of job seekers.
The crux of the American Workforce Employment Act is to allow the purchase of tools and equipment using monies saved in 529 savings plans when pursuing apprenticeships or post-secondary credentials. Just like the cost of textbooks, tools can be a significant cost of vocational training. So, yes, a worthwhile proposal … but it is only beneficial for those that have, or will have, a 529 savings plan.
If you are not familiar with 529 savings accounts, you are not alone. If you are flush in cash, and concerned about the future cost of education, 529 plans are a good investment vehicle. Reports indicate that less than 18 percent of children under age 18 have a 529 plan … which sorta suggests that a majority of people are more concerned with paying for current bills than anticipating future education costs.
Congressman Hagedorn says that his bill will “Empowering men and women to utilize their own pretax dollars will increase the number of highly trained individuals pursuing high-wage vocations and filling workforce gaps in agriculture, manufacturing, and skilled labor sectors” …. yet, contributions to 529 plans are NOT pre-tax (you pay state and federal tax on the money you put into the account although there are some states that let you deduct a portion of your contributions from your state taxes). Earnings in a 529 plan grow federal tax-free and will not be taxed when the money is taken out to pay for “recognized post-secondary credential” (of course, what returns you will earn or not earn on an investment, are always in flux — stocks, bonds, and other securities can lose value – there are no guarantees.)
While Congressman Hagedorn’s bill will help some, if he really wanted to close the skills gap, he should have authored a bill modeled after Minnesota’s PIPELINE program. The PIPELINE program provides grant funds to cover the cost of trainees’ tuition, fees and required materials for the instructional training required. Heck, Congressman Hagedorn heard about the PIPELINE Program when he visited Jones Metal Products during the August recess. In fact there are a number of Mankato businesses — Dotson Iron Castings, Mankato Clinic, Nidec, V-TEK, as well as other companies throughout the First District and the state that participate in the program.
After nine months, all Congressman Hagedorn can show is one bill — that has garnered just three co-sponsors.
Compare that to Second District Congresswoman Angie Craig who has authored six — of which one has passed the House with the support of 117 Republicans. Other freshman members of the Minnesota delegation also have been more active … Third District Congressman Dean Phillips has authored five bills; Fourth District Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has introduced eight bills; and Eight District Congressman Pete Stauber has authored ten bills.
Ya gotta ask yourself, was Jim Hagedorn elected just to vote based on Donald Trump’s instructions ? Authoring a single bill after nine months, is hardly showing great effort to address the concerns of the district. Actually, ya gotta wonder if this bill is just an attempt to show that he is doing something — after all, this slight change in the 529 rules could have been accomplished as an amendment to some other bill (there have been a dozen bills approved by the House that addressed 529 plans this session.)
Since HR 4469 American Workforce Empowerment Act has bi-partisan support, Congressman Hagedorn’s first bill should be an easy vote … and likely a voice vote as it is rather insignificant and non-controversial.
Click this hyperlink to hear Congressman Hagedorn discuss his bill
File HR 4469 under #HagedornHype.