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Walberg Statement: Hearing on “The 21st Century Workforce: How Current Rules and Regulations Affect Innovation and Flexibility in Michigan’s Workplaces”

It’s good to have the opportunity to learn more about how policies and proposals coming out of Washington are affecting workers and employers both in Michigan and across the country. Discussions like this one are important because they inform the work we do as lawmakers. They help us—as your representatives in our nation’s capital—better understand your concerns, your struggles, and your successes; and they help us ensure your priorities remain our priorities.
I don’t have to tell you, that in this economy—which is still struggling to recover—a lot of Americans continue to face significant challenges. Millions of men and women are struggling to find jobs. Millions of others are working part-time jobs when what they really need and want is full-time work. Family incomes across the country remain flat. People are hurting, and as policymakers, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to help. One important way we can do that is by taking a close look at the rules and regulations governing our workplaces.
For almost 80 years, the Fair Labor Standards Act has been the foundation of our wage and hour standards. The law plays an important role in the lives of millions of working Americans. The problem is that a lot has changed in our workplaces over the 80 years, and federal wage and hour rules have not kept up.
Today, the regulations guiding the law’s implementation are rigid, outdated, and simply not working for the 21st century workforce. Millennials are now the majority of the workforce, and they—like most in the workforce—do not want a flawed regulatory structure that constrains flexibility and innovation by creating confusion and uncertainty in today’s workplaces. Unfortunately, the current law raises more questions than it provides answers.
That’s why Republicans have long supported improving and updating the rules surrounding federal wage and hour standards—modernizing them to account for advances in technology and to better reflect the innovative, flexible economy we have today. We remain willing and ready to work toward that goal. However, we also remain insistent that we do so responsibly. It’s not enough to simply change the rules. We have to improve them. And we have to do so in a way that does not place additional burdensome requirements on small business owners, does not stifle job creation and wages, and does not limit opportunity and flexibility for workers.
Unfortunately, the administration is taking a different approach to updating workplace rules and regulations. In fact, the Department of Labor is in the process of finalizing an overtime rule that is anything but responsible. Instead of making changes to address the complexity of current regulations, the proposal will impose significant burdens on employers, limit workplace flexibility, and make it harder for workers to advance in their careers. The administration’s regulatory proposal will ultimately hurt the very people who need help.
There are better ways to update and modernize current rules and regulations, and we owe it to the American people to explore them. That’s the purpose of today’s hearing. We want to hear about your experiences and better understand your concerns. What’s working? What’s not working? What changes need to be made to ensure federal policies support—rather than discourage—the economic growth our nation desperately needs? How can we help you and others in our communities pursue the personal opportunity you’re working to achieve?


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