Rita Gallegos-Logan, Linda Erickson and Mary Lou Chavez represented the Belen Chamber of Commerce at a Washington, D.C., congressional delegation visit recently.
The event was organized by the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.
The Belenites heard from Emily Rocca, Mason Bishop and Erica Bohm of the U.S. Department of Labor Employ-ment and Training Admini-stration regarding the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
In a report to the chamber, the leaders said that New Mexico had used only 12 percent of its funding by March 14 and that dollars not spent by June 30 must be returned to the government.
Sherman McCorkle, chairman of the state WIA said 80 percent of New Mexico’s funds are committed in areas such as training for dislocated workers.
Priorities discussed included identifying growth businesses, job retention and the role of community colleges to develop programs and train individuals, the report said.
Erickson, past president of the local chamber, attended a meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to learn about the Trade Promotion Authority, which gives the President authority to make international trade agreements.
She also learned about the new Trade Adjustment Authority, which provides relief for laid-off workers.
The local representatives met with U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson and spoke about farmers markets, Lockheed Martin-Sandia Labs and other local issues.
They met with both Reps. Tom Udall and Joe Skeen.
Along the way, Gallegos-Logan and Chavez went to the Department of Education for a briefing with Linda E. Wilson, deputy secretary for Intergovernmental Relations.
They discussed President George W. Bush’s new program, “No Child Left Behind.” The President’s major focus is to clarify implementation and disbursement of funds to the states, they were told.
Gallegos-Logan, in addition to being president of the chamber, is community education director at the Valencia Campus. She had a discussion with Adam Honeysett, researcher for the office of the deputy assistant secretary about the status of Gear-Up, a program that provides tutorial services for middle school students. The Valencia Campus administers a Gear-Up program. Officials from the department said that Gear-Up may fold into Trio, a grant to help first generation college students succeed.
Erickson heard a briefing from Karl Rove, senior advisor to the President, about trade agreements.
The women met with Sen. Jeff Bingaman and talked about several issues, including a farm bill that includes farmers’ markets, the federal Women Infants and Children program and a senior plan.
They toured the west wing of the White House and got a domestic policy briefing.
They met at the Department of Health to discuss Medicare and other health issues, including insurance.
The State of New Mexico has sent a proposal to the health department that would help small businesses pay for health insurance for their employees at a lower rate of cost.
The women said there were 38 people on the trip, mostly from Albuquerque, with some from Roswell and southern New Mexico.
“The contacts and information we brought home with us were invaluable,” the women wrote in their report to the chamber.
The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.