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The House Subcommittee on Employment Opportunities last week marked up a bill aimed at helping develop voluntary national skills standards for various occupations and creating innovative school-to-work transition programs.

The "school-to-work transition and skill standards development act of 1992,'' HR 5723, is sponsored by Rep. Carl C. Perkins, D-Ky., chairman of the subcommittee. It would create a National Commission on a High Skills Workforce made up of 20 members: six representatives from business, six from labor, six from education, and the secretaries of labor and education.

The panel would award three-year grants to consortia from industry, labor, and education to develop voluntary national skill standards.

It would also award three-year grants to states and local consortia for the development of school-to-work transition programs.

A Congressional aide said that at this point there is no connection between the proposed bill and the current attempt by the Labor Department to set industrywide skill standards. "If this passes, we would try to have some link-up,'' he said.

House and Senate negotiators have agreed to continue federal funding for the superconducting supercollider, although at a lower level than that sought by the Bush Administration.

But the fate of the laboratory and its related educational facilities, currently being built on the outskirts of Dallas, still hangs in the balance as the $22 billion energy and water-resources appropriations measure, which contains $517 million for the supercollider, returns to the two chambers for a final vote.

The Senate had approved spending $550 million on the project in the coming year, $100 million less than the Administration had wanted.

But House members, dubious of the project's merits, had previously voted to cut all federal funding for the project, which is estimated to cost at least $8.25 billion to complete.

In addition to its primary mission of allowing scientists to learn more about the fundamental properties of matter, the supercollider laboratory has a secondary mission of supporting educational programs. (See Education Week, Sept. 16, 1992.)

Congress has approved a bill that would provide $11.1 billion in disaster relief, including $122.5 million for education programs, for areas hit by hurricanes Andrew and Iniki and Typhoon Omar.

HR 5620 was cleared by a conference committee and was passed on Sept. 18 by both houses by voice votes.

The relief bill includes $42.5 million for impact aid and $40 million for student financial aid.

It also includes $40 million for general emergency school relief. The money will come from a contingency fund established in a fiscal 1992 spending bill to provide money for newly enacted school-reform legislation.

Initially, the federal government sent storm-damaged areas $40 million from a $90 million fund that was to be used to trim the Pell Grant shortfall.

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