JUNEAU – A large bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation that would maintain apprenticeship standards and override potential regulations from the administration.
The introduction of House Bill 301 follows the news that the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is continuing to consider regulations undermining apprenticeship. HB 301 would ensure that apprenticeship continues to be the training pathway for electrical workers, plumbers, and pipefitters to test for certificates of fitness.
Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage), one of the bill’s sponsors, said, “Industry depends on apprenticeships to train our workforce and maintain high levels of workplace safety, and this legislation ensures public policy supports industry-funded training.”
“We’ve heard loud and clear that Alaskans support apprenticeship training for these occupations,” added Rep. Zack Fields (D-Anchorage), who crafted the bill with Representative LeDoux.
“I’m proud to support the effective, industry-funded apprenticeship training programs that our contracting community already provides for Alaskans,” said Rep. Kelly Merrick (R-Eagle River), another of the bill’s co-sponsors.
Reps. Matt Claman, Mel Gillis, Chuck Kopp, Gary Knopp, Andy Josephson, Sara Rasmussen, Laddie Shaw, Ivy Spohnholz, Louise Stutes, Geran Tarr, Steve Thompson, and Chris Tuck joined Representatives Fields, LeDoux, and Merrick as co-sponsors of the bill.
When DOLWD proposed regulations to undermine apprenticeship programs, 375 businesses, individuals, and industry organizations submitted public comments in opposition. Not a single person or organization supported the anti-apprenticeship regulations. Both the House and Senate submitted letters opposing issuance of the regulations.
Although the department announced withdrawal of that regulatory package following a hearing in the House Labor and Commerce Committee, the administration subsequently announced a public session to seek input on the same proposal, which would establish a work-around to undermine apprenticeship. HB 301 ensures industry and the public has a vehicle to override anti-apprenticeship regulations, should the department choose to move forward with them.