2022 Regular Session
By: Representatives White, Scoggin, Foster, Faulkner, Stamps
AN ACT TO ENACT THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT (ARPA) WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AND RETENTION ACT; TO STATE LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT; TO ESTABLISH THE ACCELERATE MISSISSIPPI WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM; TO OUTLINE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE APPLICATION AND FOR THE GRANT AWARDS; TO ESTABLISH THE MISSISSIPPI HEALTH SCIENCES TRAINING INFRASTRUCTURE GRANT PROGRAM; TO PROVIDE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS TO THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE BY OCTOBER 1 OF EACH YEAR; TO REQUIRE THE OFFICE OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT TO CERTIFY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION THAT EACH EXPENDITURE APPROPRIATED TO THE OFFICE IS IN COMPLIANCE WITH UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY CRITERIA REGARDING THE USE OF MONIES FROM THE STATE CORONAVIRUS STATE FISCAL RECOVERY FUND; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The provisions of this act shall be known and may be cited as the "American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Workforce Development and Retention Act." Under this act, the Legislature creates the Accelerate Mississippi Workforce Development Program and the Mississippi Health Sciences Training Infrastructure Grant Program.
SECTION 2. (1) The Mississippi Legislature finds the following:
(a) The public health crisis related to COVID-19 resulted in a general disruption in the Mississippi economy and workforce, particularly in the healthcare industry;
(b) Workforce shortages exist in a number of high-wage, high-demand Mississippi industries, including, but not limited to, the field of nursing; and
(c) The availability of unprecedented federal funding to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce and economy has created a unique opportunity for the Office of Workforce Development, working with community colleges, institutions of higher learning, employers, and others, to provide education and training for Mississippians seeking employment in healthcare and other fields.
(2) Therefore, the intent of the Mississippi Legislature is:
(a) To provide funding for outreach and other efforts to connect citizens seeking employment in nursing and other high-wage, high-demand fields with the education and training required to obtain necessary skills for relevant employment in the state;
(b) To provide funding for new and increased capacity in new and existing relevant workforce development and training programs, particularly programs related to nursing and healthcare, to include any required equipment or supplies, at community and junior colleges and institutions of higher learning across the state; and
(c) To gauge the effectiveness of these programs by gathering data related to participation and wage and employment outcomes in order to replicate successful efforts in future workforce development programs.
SECTION 3. As used in this act, the following words have the meanings ascribed unless the context requires otherwise:
(a) "ARPA" means the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law No. 117-2).
(b) "COVID-19" means the Coronavirus Disease 2019.
(c) "Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds" means funds allocated to the State of Mississippi from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund in Section 9901 of ARPA.
(d) "Grant program" means the workforce development and training programs administered under this act using federal COVID-19 relief funds.
(e) "Office" means the Office of Workforce Development established in Section 37-153-7.
SECTION 4. (1) There is established the Accelerate Mississippi Workforce Development Program, which shall be directed by the office for the purpose of providing education and training to citizens seeking employment in high-wage, high-demand industries in the state, including, but not limited to, the nursing and healthcare fields, which were impacted by the disruption to the economy and workforce caused by COVID-19. This program shall be subject to the availability of funds appropriated by the Legislature using Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds made available under ARPA or any other funds appropriated by the Legislature.
(2) As used in this section, the following words have the meanings ascribed unless the context requires otherwise:
(a) "Recipient" means a community college, institution of higher learning, or trainee recipient of grant funding under this section.
(b) "Trainee" means an individual receiving training or other services through programs under this act with the goal of becoming employed in a high-wage, high-demand industry.
(c) "High-wage, high-demand industry" means those industries paying above Mississippi's median annual income and prioritized by the office and the four (4) local workforce areas.
(d) "Eligible expenses" means a cost incurred by a recipient, pursuant to this act, to include:
(i) Necessary equipment or other supplies;
(ii) Curricula or other academic or training materials;
(iii) Remote learning or other classroom technology;
(iv) Stipends for teaching staff or faculty for workforce development programs;
(v) Trainee support, including tuition expenses and childcare or transportation assistance;
(vi) Coaching or mentoring services;
(vii) Job placement services;
(viii) Apprenticeship programs; and
(ix) Recruitment programs.
(3) The Department of Employment Security shall serve as fiscal agent in administering the funds.
(4) Subject to appropriation by the Legislature, allocations to recipients shall be awarded by the office through an application process, which shall require the applicant to provide:
(a) A detailed explanation of the program the applicant intends to use awarded funds to create or expand, including:
(i) A description of the high-wage, high-demand field or workforce shortage area the program is intended to address;
(ii) The number of trainees who will be served by the program; and
(iii) The average wage rate for trainees receiving employment after completing the program;
(b) A proposed budget on how awarded funds will be expended, including a plan to consistently report expenditures to the office throughout the funding commitment;
(c) A plan to provide data on participation and outcomes of the program, including a plan to report outcomes to the office throughout the funding commitment; and
(d) Other relevant information as determined appropriate by the office.
(5) Applicants agreeing to commit a portion of their federal COVID-19 relief funds, if they received federal COVID-19 relief funds directly, or other state, federal or private funds as supplemental matching funds to offset the total cost of the approved program will be prioritized for approval.
(6) The office shall:
(a) Inform each recipient of its portion of the funds appropriated to the grant program;
(b) Develop regulations and procedures to govern the administration of the grant program;
(c) Prioritize high-wage, high-skill industries, including, but not limited to, nursing jobs or other jobs within the healthcare field; and
(d) Coordinate with the Department of Employment Security to share information to identify individuals who were furloughed, unemployed, underemployed or otherwise displaced due to COVID-19.
(7) The office may use a maximum of two percent (2%) of funds allocated for this act for the administration of the grant program, to the extent permissible under federal law.
SECTION 5. (1) There is established the Mississippi Health Sciences Training Infrastructure Grant Program, the purpose of which is to provide a reimbursable grant for primary care health sciences training infrastructure at any osteopathic medical school in Mississippi that is accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). This program shall be subject to the availability of funds appropriated by the Legislature using Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds made available under ARPA or any other funds appropriated by the Legislature.
(2) As used in this section, the following words have the meanings ascribed unless the context requires otherwise:
(a) "Applicant" means any osteopathic medical school in Mississippi that is accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).
(b) "Health sciences training infrastructure" means any infrastructure that is eligible under ARPA that assists with the training of health sciences students to increase their interest and encourage their pursuit of careers in primary care.
(3) On or before July 1, 2022, the office shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to administer the Mississippi Health Sciences Training Infrastructure Grant Program prescribed under this section, including application procedures and deadlines. The Department of Finance and Administration, Bureau of Building, Grounds and Real Property Management, is authorized and directed to advise the office regarding all such rules and regulations.
(4) The office shall receive applications submitted by the applicants, which shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(a) A detailed description and the cost of the health sciences training infrastructure requested;
(b) The number of students currently trained at the applicant's school that pursue graduate medical education in primary care;
(c) A certification that the health sciences training infrastructure meets the guidelines of ARPA and its implementing guidelines, guidance, rules, regulations and other criteria, as may be amended or supplemented from time to time, by the United States Department of the Treasury; and all applicable guidance issued by the department; and
(d) Any additional requirements set by the office.
(5) Applications shall be reviewed and scored by the office. The office shall certify that each application submitted is an allowable expense as defined in ARPA and all applicable guidance issued by the department. The Department of Finance and Administration, Bureau of Building, Grounds and Real Property Management, is authorized and directed to advise the office as to the estimated cost and eligibility of the projects. The office shall award the grants to the applicants based on what projects the office determines has the most significant impact on increasing student access to primary care training opportunities. A grant agreement shall be executed between the applicant and the office. All final awards will be determined at the discretion of the executive director of the office. Funds shall be made available to an applicant upon the execution of a grant agreement between the office and the approved applicants. The office shall provide these funds to the applicants on a reimbursable basis after receiving support for expenses and determining that they meet the grant award criteria.
(6) The applicant may be required to repay the State of Mississippi for any grant funds awarded not consistent with the guidelines of ARPA and its implementing guidelines, guidance, rules, regulations and other criteria, as may be amended or supplemented from time to time, by the United States Department of the Treasury, and all applicable guidance issued by the office.
SECTION 6. The office shall provide a comprehensive report on the use and effectiveness of funds distributed under the grant programs created in this act, to include, if applicable, wage data and employment outcomes for trainees, to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chairs of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, Chair of the Senate Economic and Workforce Development Committee, and Chair of the House Workforce Development Committee by October 1 each year of the existence of the program. The report shall also contain, if applicable, the submitted applications, the score of the applications, the amount of grant funds awarded to each applicant, the amount of grant funds expended by each applicant, the status of the training infrastructure, the number of students currently trained at the applicant's school, and the estimated increase in the number of students to be trained at the applicant's school.
SECTION 7. This act shall stand repealed on July 1, 2026.
SECTION 8. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2022.