PLATTSBURGH -- In reaction to the pending closure of the General Motors plant in Massena, Congressman John McHugh has introduced the Rural America Job Assistance and Creation Act.

The bill would assist communities in improving economic conditions and worker protections, according to a news release from McHugh.

In his remarks to the House, McHugh said companies that employ 100 or more workers would have to notify the impacted elected officials within 60 days if they plan to close or reduce their work force.

McHugh said such notice would alert public officials to the situation and the impact it will have on workers and the community and help them determine whether state and/or federal resources can be utilized to prevent closure or layoffs.

The Rural America Job Assistance and Creation Act also calls for the exclusion of gross income up to $25,000 of any qualified severance pay.

Too often, workers lose about one-third of their severance pay to taxes because they are pushed into a higher bracket, according to McHugh.

The bill would also establish regional alliances to help identify needed skills and create and implement effective training solutions.

It would encourage cooperation between educational institutions and entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas but can't afford the legal and consultant fees necessary to take their ideas from the drawing board to reality.

"Finally, the Rural America Job Assistance and Creation Act would expand the work opportunity tax credit to include both small businesses and individuals found in communities experiencing population loss and low job growth rates, such as those in central and northern New York," McHugh said.

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