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Sen. Eric Lesser Named Finalist in National Ideas Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Eric Lesser’s efforts to ensure access to benefits for part-time and independent workers made him a finalist in the 2019 New Ideas Challenge, a competition among rising and innovative state and local policymakers to propose the most effective solutions on an array of issues. 

The competition is sponsored by NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a 4-year old organization that uses its website to share ideas from local officials around the country, and promotes ideas that are progressive and also focus on growing the economy or making government more efficient.

Policy experts vote for the proposals that best improve Americans’ economic well-being and overall quality of life, and that make government work more effectively to meet communities’ needs.

Of 50 proposals evaluated by a diverse panel of judges, Lesser’s Creating Portable Benefits submission is a finalist in the “Adapting to the Future of Work” category, which includes ideas that ensure everyone has opportunities to earn good jobs and pursue entrepreneurial ventures, while having access to a safety net that provides security and stability.

Lesser’s idea establishes the Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Innovation Fund and competitive grant program to encourage employers and organizations to innovate and experiment with benefits systems that are especially designed to serve workers who are outside of traditional full-time employment positions. These efforts would attempt to address barriers to health care, retirement, workers compensation and other benefits that Americans are less likely to receive through their employer in the new economy.

“In a world being rapidly transformed by the forces of globalization and technological innovation, and where Americans have lost faith in national government to solve pressing issues, the New Ideas Challenge shows how a group of innovative state and local officials are rising to the occasion of finding solutions in a rapidly changing world,” said NewDEAL CEO Debbie Cox Bultan. “Senator Lesser and his fellow finalists have made proposals that, together, set an important governing agenda for the country to follow and for making the economy and government work better for the American people.”

The Challenge was open to the 166 members of the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), an organization that supports state and local pro-growth progressive elected officials through the exchange of ideas and engagement with other top public, private, and non-profit sector officials. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (VA) and former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the group.

In its fourth edition, this year’s competition takes place in the context of a presidential campaign that gives Americans a unique opportunity to debate the direction of the country, the society we want to build for present and future generations, and the policies required to achieve our goals. NewDEALers are at the forefront of efforts to make good on the promise of states and cities as laboratories of democracy. The Ideas Challenge recognizes that these leaders, who represent diverse communities from urban centers to rural towns and in red, blue, and purple districts, have powerful messages, experiences, and proposals that must be heard.

“I am thrilled to be named a finalist and to be included in this group of talented leaders across the country,” said Senator Lesser. “Americans can’t wait for theoretical debates and political rhetoric to address the challenges of the new economy. This is an important time to share practical ideas that can remove barriers to opportunity for working families and communities across the country.”

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