BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY
OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
In the matter of the amendment of ARM 24.13.101 and 24.13.105, and the repeal of ARM 24.13.109 pertaining to the Montana HELP Act workforce development services
NOTICE OF AMENDMENT AND REPEAL
TO: All Concerned Persons
1. On November 5, 2021, the Department of Labor and Industry (department) published MAR Notice No. 24-13-386 pertaining to the public hearing on the proposed amendment and repeal of the above-stated rules at page 1461 of the 2021 Montana Administrative Register, Issue Number 21.
2. The department held a public hearing in Helena on November 30, 2021, over the Zoom videoconference and telephonic platform at which one member of the public commented. Other comments were received during the public comment period.
3. The department has thoroughly considered the comments made. A summary of the comments and the department's responses are as follows:
COMMENT 1: A commenter spoke in favor of the rule changes.
RESPONSE 1: The department acknowledges the comment.
COMMENT 2: A commenter asked if the department will provide assessments of potential program participants.
RESPONSE 2: Contracted agencies will provide assessments of potential program participants. By doing their own assessments, contracted agencies can better identify suitability for program participation.
COMMENT 3: A commenter asked if a person is a program participant when they are completing an assessment, or whether they are a program participant once they are working to develop an approved employment goal.
RESPONSE 3: An individual becomes a program participant after they have completed the assessment and begun developing an approved employment goal pursuant to ARM 24.13.103(3).
COMMENT 4: A commenter stated that there is no definition of "high-wage" career field and stated that the requirement for a program participant's goals to be in a "high-wage and in-demand career field" is discriminatory.
RESPONSE 4: The department acknowledges the comment. The rules do not define "high wage" or "in-demand." Rather, the terms are defined by department policy. High wage includes wages significant enough to exceed eligibility for Medicaid expansion or provide an opportunity to enter a career pathway that offers advancement within the career cluster leading to self-sufficient wages after more education, training, and experience. In-demand includes career fields identified by the legislature or based on local economic factors. These definitions allow contracted agencies sufficient flexibility to assist program participants by offering opportunities which lead to self-sufficient wages in readily available occupations.
COMMENT 5: A commenter stated that the applicable statute encourages contracted agencies to emphasize "high-demand occupations," 39-12-103(2)(b), MCA. The commenter notes that the statute does not require career goals for program participants to be in a "high-wage and in-demand career field," as required by ARM 24.13.105.
RESPONSE 5: The department acknowledges the comment. As described above, the rule allows contracted agencies sufficient flexibility to identify "high-wage" and "in-demand" career fields for different locations and local economic factors.
COMMENT 6: A commenter stated that the amendments do not clarify the extent to which the department will continue to communicate with the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) about the program.
RESPONSE 6: The department shall continue to coordinate with and report necessary information to DPHHS for program administration as required by the legislature in 39-12-103(5) and 39-12-107(1), MCA.
COMMENT 7: A commenter stated that "contracted agency" in ARM 24.13.101(1) is defined as "a private or for-profit entity," and this does not match the statutory language that states the department must contract with "one or more private nonprofit or for-profit entities," 39-12-103(2)(b), MCA.
RESPONSE 7: The comment is well taken. The definition of "contracted agency" should mirror the statute, and the rule is amended below.
4. Pursuant to 2-4-305(1)(b)(ii), MCA, the department acknowledges comments of the primary sponsor of Chapter 547, Laws of 2021 (House Bill 614). The sponsor commented that the department did not include the term "education" as a form of workforce development services, and the department did not specifically define "employment goals" for program participants. The department acknowledges the comments. Because the statute requires the department to allow flexibility in the scope of services provided to program participants under 39-12-107(2), MCA, the department shall not include a specific reference to "education" as a form of workforce training or a definition for "employment goals" in rule. Rather, the department shall address these concerns as a matter of department policy.
5. The department has amended ARM 24.13.101 with the following changes, new matter underlined:
24.13.101 DEFINITIONS For the purposes of this chapter, the following definitions apply:
(1) "Contracted agency" means a private nonprofit or for-profit entity that has entered into a written contract with the state to provide workforce development services pursuant to the HELP Act program.
(2) through (8) remain as proposed.
6. The department has amended ARM 24.13.105 as proposed.
7. The department has repealed ARM 24.13.109 as proposed.
/s/ QUINLAN L. O'CONNOR
Quinlan L. O'Connor
Alternate Rule Reviewer
/s/ LAURIE ESAU
Laurie Esau, Commissioner
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY
Certified to the Secretary of State February 1, 2022.