Ohio senators push bills aimed to help vets, construction workers

Sen. Sherrod Brown last week was part of a bipartisan group of senators who co-sponsored a bill to expand the G.I. bill for post 9/11 student veterans.

The bill includes provisions aimed at allowing more servicemembers or loved ones of fallen servicemembers to use the G.I. bill to further their education.

Specifically, Brown, D-Ohio, helped secure a provision of the bill that would restore G.I. benefits for veterans who attended ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, two for-profit colleges that failed, leaving veterans with meaningless degrees or without a degree at all. Brown has been working to restore benefits for veterans who were defrauded.

“G.I. benefits are there to ensure veterans get the education they deserve, not to pad pockets of for-profit colleges,” Brown said. “This bill will make sure that veterans who’ve been defrauded by for-profit colleges don’t get cheated out of their G.I. benefits.”

The bill also includes a Brown provision to expand eligibility for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Yellow Ribbon Program to spouses and children of servicemembers who died in combat.

The Yellow Ribbon Program helps students avoid out-of-pocket tuition and fees for education programs that cost more than their post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits. But it is currently only open to veterans and spouses and children of servicemembers. Brown’s bill would expand Yellow Ribbon to spouses and children of servicemembers who died in combat.

A House panel passed its own version of the G.I. Bill last week.

Help for construction, transportation, energy workers

Sen. Rob Portman last week introduced a bill that aims to prepare workers for jobs in fields such as construction, transportation and energy in preparation for a major federal investment in infrastructure.

The bill would create incentives for businesses to work with the community on job training programs aimed at helping fill the nation’s infrastructure needs; connect businesses and education providers to create curriculum to help prepare workers; offer resources and career awareness programming to recruit and retain people for workforce training programs and provide support to help workers as they go from pre-employment to placement in a full-time job.

A recent study by the Center of Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University estimated that a $1 trillion infrastructure investment would create 11 million new jobs. Of these jobs, nearly half would require skilled job training beyond a high school level.

Portman’s bill – which is cosponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., would promotes partnerships made up of local businesses and industry organizations, workforce boards, labor representatives and education and training providers to support workforce training programs in infrastructure-related jobs.

“If we are going to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, we are going to need a skilled workforce,” Portman said, adding that his bill “will improve worker training and provide more resources for job training programs targeted toward in-demand infrastructure-related jobs, which will ensure that we can fill jobs quickly and help those on the economic sidelines get the skills they need to succeed.”

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