There is one summary for this bill. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (05/13/1985)

Economic Equity Act of 1985 - Title I: Retirement - Pension Vesting, Integration, and Portability Act of 1985 - Amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to revise provisions relating to maximum age conditions under pension plans to provide for continued coverage for certain workers over the normal retirement age. Provides that pension plans may only exclude from participation, on the basis of age, an employee who has attained the normal retirement age under the plan if: (1) the plan is a defined benefit plan or a target benefit plan (as under current law); and (2) the employee's accrued benefit under the plan is greater than the normal retirement benefit to which the employee would be entitled at the normal retirement age if the employee commenced participation at the earliest possible entry age under the plan and served continuously until attaining the normal retirement age under the plan.

Revises provisions relating to minimum vesting standards to reduce, from ten years to five years, the number of years of service which a pension plan participant must complete in order to earn a nonforfeitable right to 100 percent of the participant's accrued benefit derived from employer contributions. Permits multiemployer pension plans to retain the ten-year minimum vesting standard if such plans meet certain conditions, including complete reciprocity for workers who move from one regional pension plan to another within the same industry.

Repeals a certain "class year plan" rule.

Permits participants with three (currently five) years of service to elect, within a specified period to have their nonforfeitable percentage computed under the plan without regard to any plan amendment changing the vesting schedule.

Revises minimum participation standards, minimum vesting standards, and benefit accrual requirements to provide for pension plan coverage of part-time workers. Revises the definition of "year of service," for purposes of minimum participation and vesting standards, to treat 500 to 1,000 hours of service per year by a part-time employee as one-half of a year of service. Provides that the date on which such employee completes such one-half of one year of service shall be the latest date until which the plan participation of such employee may be delayed. Includes service of at least 500 (currently 1,000) hours in determinations of years of plan participation for purposes of benefit accrual requirements.

Establishes minimum benefit rules for integrated pension plans. Requires such plans to offer a minimum benefit without taking into account contributions or benefits under specified provisions of the Social Security Act, the Internal Revenue Code, or any other Federal or State law. Sets forth formulas, based on specified percentages of employee compensation, for determining such minimum benefit in the case of: (1) an integrated defined benefit plan; and (2) an integrated defined contribution plan or an integrated simplified employee pension. Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe necessary or appropriate regulations to carry out the purposes of such minimum benefit rules for integrated plans in any case in which the employer has two or more plans.

Provides for distributions of accrued benefits of less than $7,000 to portable pension accounts (individual retirement accounts or individual retirement annuities). Requires a pension plan to distribute a participant's nonforfeitable benefit to a portable pension account if: (1) the plan is a defined benefit plan, or an individual account plan subject to specified funding standards; (2) the present value, as of the date of separation from service, of such benefit is less than $7,000; and (3) the participant elects in writing, after receiving a required notice, to have such benefit distributed to such portable pension account in a distribution which is excluded from gross income under specified Internal Revenue Code provisions. Directs the Secretary of Labor to prescribe by regulation the manner and form in which such election is to be made. Requires the plan administrator, upon being informed by a participant that the participant wishes to make an election pursuant to these provisions, to provide notice to the participant of: (1) the present value, as of the date of separation, of the participant's nonforfeitable benefit (with such present value to be deemed equal to the actuarial equivalent, as of such date, of the normal form of benefit under the plan); (2) the amount of the participant's benefit on the date of the participant's retirement payable under the pension plan at normal retirement age expressed in the form of a single life annuity under a defined benefit plan or in the normal form of payment under an individual account plan; and (3) the additional tax (under specified Internal Revenue Code provisions as revised by this Act) on distributions from, or disqualification, of the portable pension account before the date on which the participant attains age 59 1/2.

Amends the Internal Revenue Code to revise provisions relating to pension plans. Makes such revisions similar to those made to ERISA by title I of this Act with respect to: (1) continued coverage for certain workers over the normal retirement age; (2) a minimum vesting standard of five years of service (reduced from ten years), with the exception of multiemployer plans meeting certain conditions (including reciprocity); (3) repeal of the class year plan rule; (4) protection from changes in the vesting schedule for participants with three years of service; (5) coverage for part-time workers under minimum participation standards, minimum vesting standards, and benefit accrual requirements; (6) establishment of minimum benefit rules for integrated plans; and (7) distributions of accrued benefits to portable pension accounts.

Revises provisions relating to additional tax on certain amounts included in gross income before age 59 1/2. Requires, in cases of early distributions or disqualification involving portable pension accounts to which accrued benefits from a pension plan have been distributed as provided under this Act, that the additional tax (for the taxable year in which the early distribution is received or the disqualification occurs) shall be equal to the amount of the early distribution, or of the disqualification, which is includible in gross income for such taxable year.

Directs the Secretary of Labor to: (1) conduct a study of the feasibility and ramifications of requiring private employee pension benefit plans to provide cost-of-living adjustments to benefits payable under such plans; (2) compile data and analyze the effect inflation is having and may be expected to have on retirement benefits provided under such plans; and (3) submit study results, with recommendations, within two years after enactment of this Act.

Social Security Modernization Act - Amends title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act to provide that the combined earnings of a married couple which are attributable to the period of their marriage shall be shared equally between them for purposes of determining the eligibility for and amount of OASDI benefits to which each spouse is or may become separately entitled.

Credits the survivor of the marriage with 100 percent of the combined total wages for the period of the marriage.

Provides that this Act shall not apply in specified cases where it would result in a reduction of OASDI benefits. Provides full benefits for disabled widows and widowers without regard to age.

Enables an insured individual's spouse who has attained the age of 50 and is not entitled to any other monthly benefits to obtain a transition benefit for four months upon the death of the insured individual. Establishes the amount of such transition benefit at 71.5 percent of the primary insurance amount of the insured individual or, if it is higher, 71.5 percent of the primary insurance amount of the spouse.

Repeals the separate definition of disability applicable to widows and widowers. Permits the months of a widow's or widower's entitlement to Supplemental Security Income benefits (title XVI of the Social Security Act) on the basis of a disability to be counted towards the 24 months needed to become entitled to hospital insurance benefits under Medicare (title XVIII of the Social Security Act) on that basis.

Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Equity Act - Provides that a former spouse of a member of the uniformed services shall be entitled, unless expressly provided by a spousal agreement or court order, to an annuity: (1) equal to 50 percent of the retired or retainer pay of the member if married to the member throughout the creditable service of the member; or (2) equal to a pro rata share of 50 percent of such pay if not married to the member throughout the entire creditable service of the member.

Requires that an election by a member not to participate, or to participate at a reduced level, in the Survivor Benefit Plan or to provide an annuity for a dependent child only must be made jointly with the member's spouse. Provides that such an election must be in writing.

Allows a member who has a former spouse to jointly elect a spousal agreement with such former spouse or as provided under a court order to provide a survivor to the former spouse or to waive such an annuity. Treats a former spouse as a spouse for purposes of eligibility as a beneficiary, computation of annuities, and reductions in retired or retainer pay under the Survivor Benefit Plan if the member elects such treatment. (Present law treats a former spouse as a person with an "insurable interest" subject to certain restrictions and requiring larger reductions in retired or retainer pay.)

Establishes a 24 month period during which members who were already divorced before the effective date of this Act may elect to have a former spouse covered under the Survivor Benefit Plan.

Provides that a former spouse's share of retired or retainer pay shall be based on the gross amount of such pay. (Present law bases such share on the net amount of such pay after specified deductions.)

Social Services and Child Care Assistance Act of 1985 - Title II: Dependent Care - Amends title XX (Block Grants to States for Social Services) of the Social Security Act to set allotment amounts for FY 1984, 1985, and 1986 and each succeeding fiscal year.

Allocates, from the allotment set for FY 1986 and available for any fiscal year, specified amounts for: (1) funding for a National Resource Center on Family Day Care; (2) grants to States which fulfill certain conditions with respect to the licensing, regulation, and monitoring of child care services; and (3) the provision of services in accordance with title XX. Provides that, of the amounts allotted for the provision of services, specified amounts shall be used: (1) for the training and retraining of human services personnel; (2) for the training and retraining in the prevention of child abuse of licensed child care operators; and (3) for the provision of child day care services to children who are abused or neglected, who are members of families receiving aid under title IV (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) of such Act, or children who are members of specified low-income groups.

Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to add a new title XII, School-Based Child Care Programs. (Redesignates the current title XII as title XIII.)

Authorizes appropriations for FY 1986 through 1990 for grants to institutions of higher education for: (1) construction, reconstruction, and renovation of facilities, located at such institutions, to be used to provide child care services (free for students from families with incomes less than 150 percent of the poverty level, and with a sliding-scale of fees based on income for other students participating); (2) child care services through vouchers for disadvantaged college students (with two-thirds of the participants to be low-income students who are first generation college students, and the remainder to be either low-income or first generation college students); and (3) child care personnel work-experience programs (which provide experience for students by arranging part-time employment for them in licensed child care programs).

Requires the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to provide grants to public housing authorities to assist them in providing child care services for lower income families.

Requires a program report to the Congress within three years.

Authorizes FY 1986 through 1988 appropriations.

Title III: Insurance - Nondiscrimination in Insurance Act - Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in the consideration of applications for, or the granting of, insurance policies and the terms of such policies.

Permits insurers who regularly provide insurance solely to persons of a single religious affiliation to continue to do so.

Prohibits any insurer from establishing auto insurance rates for women or any particular group of women which are higher or lower in relation to the rates offered men or any similarly situated group of men, except for non-gender related risk-based reasons.

Grants to States having insurance discrimination laws the primary opportunity to enforce the prohibitions of this Act. Permits an aggrieved person to file a civil action in State or Federal court against an insurer if the State has terminated all proceedings under State law.

Authorizes the Attorney General to bring a civil action in district court when there is reasonable cause to believe that a person or group is engaged in a pattern or practice of resistance to the rights granted by this Act and that such denial raises an issue of general public importance.

Authorizes the Court to: (1) order the defendant to amend any relevant contract to comply with the provisions of this Act; (2) require the defendant to pay punitive damages in addition to actual damages; and (3) award the aggrieved person reasonable attorneys' fees.

Continued Access to Group Health Insurance Act of 1985 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to require continuation coverage under group health plans for certain spouses, former spouses, and dependent children of employees insured under such plans.

Makes such continuation coverage a requirement for the allowance of a tax deduction for employer contributions to group health plans.

Provides that the spouse and dependent children of an insured employee may be entitled to five years of continuation coverage under a group health plan if the insured employee: (1) dies; (2) becomes separated or divorced from his or her spouse; or (3) becomes entitled to Medicare.

Makes such coverage available only if it is elected within a specified period by or on behalf of the spouse or child to be covered.

Sets forth notification requirements.

Sets forth a special rule relating to collective bargaining agreements.

Title IV: Employment - Requires the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to: (1) conduct research for identifying and measuring wage discrimination; (2) assist any public or private entity in eliminating discriminatory pay practices; and (3) implement policies and procedures to prohibit employment discrimination.

Requires the Commission to determine the number and nature of all charges filed under the Civil Rights Act of 1954 and to report to the Congress with a summary prepared pursuant to this Act.

Requires the Commission to conduct a study in consultation with organizations representing Federal employees and analyze: (1) the procedures established by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to establish classifications of positions in the competitive service; and (2) the actual practices of the Director and the heads of Federal agencies in complying with the principle of equal pay for work of equal value when establishing job classifications for employees. Requires the Commission to report to the President and the Congress on its findings and provide a copy to the Director of OPM. Directs the Director to submit his comments on the report to the President and the Congress.

Directs the Secretary of Labor, acting through the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, to report to the President and the Congress on actions taken to enforce the prohibitions contained in Executive Order Numbered 11246 against discrimination by Federal contractors.

Requires the Attorney General, acting through the Office of Civil Rights, to report to the President and the Congress on actions taken to enforce the prohibitions against sex discrimination in compensation contained in title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order Numbered 11246, and other Federal laws.

Requires Federal agencies responsible for submitting equal employment opportunity plans to include in such plans: (1) a review and identification of any discriminatory pay practices and any violation of the principle of equal pay for jobs of equal value; and (2) a plan for eliminating any such practices and remedying any such violation.

Directs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to provide, by contract with a consultant, for a report on discriminatory wage-setting practices and discriminatory wage differentials within the Federal position classification system and the prevailing rate (job grading) system. Defines "discriminatory wage-setting practices" as a practice resulting from lower rates of pay for female employees doing work comparable to that of higher-paid males.

Requires OPM, within one month of receiving such report, to transmit a copy to the President and specified congressional committees, with written comments. Requires the consultant to submit such report to OPM and the Pay Equity Study Council (established by this Act) within six months after entering into its contract.

Requires OPM, within ten days after the effective date of this Act, to establish a Pay Equity Study Council to assist in the selection of a consultant and comment on the final report. Requires that Council membership consist predominantly of representatives of labor organizations representing Federal female employees. Terminates the Council after it submits comments on the final report.

Establishes a Commission on Employment Discrimination in the Legislative Branch. Directs the Commission to: (1) employ a nongovernmental consultant to study the compensation paid to Library of Congress personnel and analyze personnel policies of the Library; (2) evaluate the compensation system of the Library for compliance with title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and make any recommendations needed to achieve compliance; (3) develop a plan for the application of title VII through the legislative branch; and (4) make recommendations to the Congress for improvement of personnel policies and practices in the legislative branch.

Directs the Commission to submit a final report to the Congress 18 months after enactment of this Act. Terminates the Commission 30 days after submission of the final report.

Amends part A (General Provisions) of title XI of the Social Security Act to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to invite each State having an approved plan under part A (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) of title IV of the Social Security Act to submit an application to establish and conduct a demonstration project for the purpose of testing whether the provision of mandatory education or vocational training (or both) for the caretaker parents of dependent children under six years of age in families receiving AFDC would enable such families to leave the AFDC rolls quickly and assist such parents in securing long-term gainful employment at earnings levels sufficient to maintain their families without public assistance.

Requires any State desiring to establish and conduct such a demonstration project to submit an application to the Secretary within six months after the enactment of this Act. Directs the Secretary to approve ten of the proposed projects. Requires six of the approved projects to be located in urban areas and four to be located in predominantly rural areas. Prohibits the approval of a project unless: (1) it is of sufficient size and scope to demonstrate program and cost effectiveness and to permit the drawing of valid inferences for evaluation and policy recommendations; (2) it will be conducted for a period of not less than three nor more than five years; (3) it covers all caretaker parents in families which are eligible for aid under the applicable State plan and which include one or more children under six years of age; (4) it provides for participation by caretaker parents on a voluntary basis; and (5) it complies fully with all other requirements and will contribute to the purposes of this Act. Defines "caretaker parent".

Directs a State, in conducting an approved demonstration project, to: (1) offer each caretaker parent in a jurisdiction involved an opportunity to participate in the project; (2) establish an individualized program for the education or vocational training of each participating caretaker parent; (3) permit such parent to receive education or training under the program so established (from the time the youngest child in the care of such parent is six months old, or earlier with a physician's written permission) until either the parent is employed and self-sufficient, the parent is no longer a caretaker parent, or the family has become ineligible for aid; and (4) require the project to maintain support services, including child care, transportation, and health care services for each participant.

Directs the Secretary to pay each State with an approved demonstration project 90 percent of the costs incurred by the State in establishing and carrying out such project. Requires the remainder of the costs incurred to be paid from non-Federal sources.

Requires the education or training for caretaker parents in such program to meet the following requirements: (1) for caretaker parents without a high school diploma the education must lead to such diploma; (2) after receipt of such diploma (or in the case of an individual already having a high school diploma or better), the caretaker parent must participate in an approved post-secondary education program, an approved vocational education program, or a program of employment and training under auspices of the Job Training Partnership Act; (3) the award of an academic scholarship to a caretaker parent shall not result in any loss of eligibility or benefits under AFDC or any other public assistance program, so long as the scholarship payments are made directly to the appropriate educational institution; (4) the education and training must include instruction in family management and life skills, employment and job search training, career counseling, and community-supported recreational activities; (5) appropriate English language and adjustment training must be provided for caretaker parents from immigrant groups who have language or cultural adjustment difficulties; (6) special training must be provided for physically handicapped participants; (7) education and training for each participant in the project must be provided for at least 20 hours per week and must be coordinated with available child care services; and (8) any caretaker parent who has completed all of the education and training required by this Act shall remain a participant in the project for 20 hours a week of job search and placement assistance (with coordinated child care) until either the parent is employed and self-sufficient or the family has become ineligible for AFDC. Provides that in the case of a caretaker parent who ceases to be a participant in the project because he or she has completed all of the education and training required by this Act and has become employed: (1) the parent will be provided with child care services, as necessary, without charge for a six-month period, and thereafter for a certain period subject to the payment of a gradually increasing portion of the cost of such services; and (2) the parent shall be considered for a 15-month period to be still a project participant for purposes of receiving Medicaid (title XIX of the Social Security Act) and shall thereafter be similarly considered to still be a participant for such purposes but subject to stated conditions.

Requires all of the child care and transportation which is necessary for a caretaker parent to participate in a demonstration project to be included, without charge to the caretaker parent, as a part of the project.

Requires each approved project to be designed so as to provide an effective demonstration of: (1) the planning and design of quality and cost-effective approaches to child and infant care; (2) the cost-effective utilization of existing publicly-funded educational, vocational, and other training programs; (3) coordination with other community service providers, including job developers; and (4) cost-effective and creative approaches to the utilization of transportation facilities.

Prohibits participation in an approved project by a caretaker parent from resulting in any loss of eligibility or benefits under AFDC or any other public assistance program.

Permits a State to make participation mandatory if: (1) it is necessary to operate a project in a cost-effective manner; (2) participants would not be disadvantaged financially or otherwise; and (3) children in need of assistance would not be disadvantaged. Provides that if any caretaker parent who is required to participate in a project refuses to undergo any education or training required by this Act or otherwise fails to participate in an approved demonstration project, without a reasonable basis for such refusal or failure as determined on medical, psychological, psychiatric, or other grounds by an appropriate licensed practitioner in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary (subject to a State being granted a waiver): (1) such parent's needs shall not be taken into account in determining need under AFDC with respect to the parent's family; and (2) any AFDC payments shall be made in the form of protective payments.

Requires each approved demonstration project to have a voluntary advisory group to assist in developing the program and in monitoring the project.

Sets forth reporting requirements (including reports to the Congress). Requires each State in which a demonstration project is located to submit to the Secretary such information as the Secretary may require concerning a project.

Women's Business Ownership Act of 1985 - Establishes the National Commission on Women's Business Ownership to review: (1) the status of women-owned small businesses nationwide; (2) the role of the Federal Government in aid to and the promotion of women-owned small businesses; (3) data collection procedures and the availability of data relating to women-owned businesses, women-owned small businesses, and small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged women; (4) other Federal initiatives relating to women-owned small businesses, including those relating to Federal procurements; and (5) special impediments suffered by small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged women.

Directs the Commission to recommend: (1) new private sector initiatives which would provide management and technical assistance to women-owned small businesses; (2) ways to promote greater access to financing and procurement opportunities for such businesses; and (3) other measures relating to small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged women.

Terminates the Commission on the date that it transmits its final report to the President and to each House of the Congress.

Authorizes appropriations.

Title V: Tax Reform - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to provide that the zero amount for heads of households shall be the same as the zero bracket amount for joint returns and surviving spouses.

Increases the amount of the earned income tax credit from 11 percent to 16 percent of the first $5,000 of earned income. Provides for a phaseout of such credit for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes between $11,000 and $16,000.

Provides that governmental payments shall be disregarded for purposes of determining support and maintenance of a household.

Provides that any refund of Federal income taxes or advance payment made to an individual by reason of the earned income credit shall not be taken into account as income for purposes of determining eligibility for benefits or assistance under any Federal program or any State or local program financed in whole or part with Federal funds.

Provides for cost-of-living adjustments for the amount of the earned income credit and the phase-out thresholds of such credit beginning in 1987.

Allows a refundable income tax credit for: (1) employment related dependent care expenses; plus (2) expenses for the respite care of a dependent. Sets the amount of such credit at 50 percent of the sum of such expenses. Reduces such percentage (but not below 20 percent) by one percent for each full $2,000 amount by which the taxpayer's adjusted gross income exceeds $11,000. Provides for cost-of-living adjustments to such adjusted gross income amount. Limits the amount of employment-related expenses and respite care expenses which may be taken into account for purposes of such credit.

Allows such credit for expenses incurred for the care of: (1) a dependent of the taxpayer who is under the age of 15; (2) a dependent of the taxpayer who is physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself; or (3) a spouse who is incapable of caring for himself.

Repeals present provisions relating to the income tax credit for dependent care expenses necessary for gainful employment.

Increases the amount individuals may contribute on behalf of their spouses for purposes of the deduction for retirement savings.

Provides that no deduction from gross income shall be allowed to a taxpayer for entertainment expenses for food, beverages, lodging, or entertainment incurred in connection with a facility which discriminates on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Exempts facilities operated by a religious organization where access is limited to members of a particular religion. Treats dues and fees paid to discriminatory facilities as nondeductible expenses.

Requires the submission of a statement to the Secretary of the Treasury that a facility not open to the public does not discriminate in order for amounts paid to such facility to qualify for the entertainment expense deduction. Requires the posting of a public notice in the facility stating the nondiscriminatory policy. Permits the Secretary to revoke the acceptance of the statement of nondiscrimination.

Requires the taxpayer to report on his or her income tax return any amounts paid or incurred for food, beverages, lodging, or entertainment in any facility which is not open to the public or does not serve the public in order to deduct such amounts from gross income.