Bill would establish federal ‘Workforce Pell Grant’ program

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, on Wednesday introduced legislation to establish a federal “Workforce Pell Grant” program.

Eligibility for federal Pell grants, traditionally restricted to college students enrolled in degree programs, would be expanded to include short-term workforce training programs offered by credentialed educational institutions.

“As our country stares down a historic worker shortage, fewer Americans are getting the skills they need to be successful. That is all about to change,” Stefanik said in a news release.

Programs could be from eight to 15 weeks in duration, providing from 150 to 600 hours of instruction.

The proposed legislation requires training programs to report statistics measuring their success to the federal government, which would publish the statistics.

The legislation — H.R. 496 — had four original co-sponsors, all Republican, including Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.

Local business leaders and workforce development officials have frequently said that many employers in the region need employees with specialized skills, rather than college graduates, to quickly fill openings due to the labor shortage.

At the state level, Gov. Kathy Hochul, in her State of the State plan, proposed the state provide $10 million in grants over two years to school districts, BOCES districts and community colleges to develop workforce training programs aligned with the hiring needs of local employers.

In other regional political news:

Tonko at White House

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, spoke at the White House on Tuesday at a celebration of enacting a law he introduced to streamline the process for authorizing medical providers to prescribe a drug to treat opioid addiction.

“Federal law made it easier to prescribe potentially addictive opioids than to treat someone with opioid use disorder. Well, that has come to a turn in the road,” Tonko said in a 7-minute speech.

Tonko introduced the House version of The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which was incorporated into comprehensive budget legislation that passed the House and Senate in December and President Biden recently signed.

The legislation eliminated a requirement that medical providers apply for a separate, duplicative waiver from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to be authorized to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication to treat opioid addiction.


End Citizens United, a political action committee focused on campaign finance reform, on Jan. 19 urged E-PAC, the political action committee of U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, to donate to charity a $5,000 contribution from Rep. George Santos, R-Long Island, who has been criticized for fabricating much of his resume and accused of campaign finance and personal financial indiscretions.

Stefanik’s campaign did not return repeated requests to comment that The Post-Star left via email and voicemail over several days.

Liz Lemery Joy, the Republican candidate in the 20th Congressional District in November, is among those who have said Santos should resign.

“Time to resign!” Joy posted on Facebook on Jan. 18. “This isn’t about party or majority. This is about right vs. wrong.”

In a telephone interview on Jan. 20, Joy said she previously called on Santos to resign on Dec. 27.

“He willfully deceived the voters and the donors on the very essence of who he is,” she said. “Representatives in Congress must be able to have the trust of the people. … He should resign.”

Overpass renaming

State Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, on Wednesday, introduced legislation to name the Charley Hill overpass above the Adirondack Northway in School Lake as the “Trooper Lawrence P. Gleason Memorial Bridge,” in memory of a state police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2002.

Victim impact

State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, on Wednesday introduced legislation to require that crime victim impact statements be videotaped, and that members of the state Parole Board be required to view the statements before conducted a parole hearing for the individual convicted of the crime.

The legislation has four co-sponsors, all Republicans.

Joy eyeing 2024

Republican Liz Lemery Joy said she is keeping the option open for a third run for Congress in the 20th District.

“I have not closed my FEC (campaign fund) account purposely, and I will be making a decision soon,” she said in a telephone interview on Jan. 20.

Joy, a former blogger and speaker from Schenectady, unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, in 2020 and 2022.


U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, received an A grade, the highest grade possible, on a new congressional scorecard from Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion political advocacy organization.

Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., all received F grades.

Grades are based on voting and sponsorship during the 2021-2022 congressional session.


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