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An Information Service of NCSL's Standing Committees

Volume 17 Issue 27, August 11, 2010

CHILD NUTRITION BILL ADVANCES

The Senate passed its version of child nutrition reauthorization, S. 3307, the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.”  The bill provides a rate increase of six cents per meal for schools that meet new nutrition standards, grants USDA the authority to establish national nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, and makes expansions in the Afterschool Meal, School Breakfast and Summer Food programs. However, a major offset for new expenditures in the bill is $2.2 billion freed up by imposing an early ending to the increase in the SNAP/Food Stamp benefit level authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Senate previously used savings from ending this SNAP increase in March of 2014 to pay for assistance to states including an increase in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP).  S. 3307 ends the increase even earlier, October 31, 2013.  The House Education and Labor Committee passed the House version of child nutrition legislation (H.R. 5504) on July 15, 2010, but full floor consideration of the measure will not occur until September. (NCSL staff contacts:  Lee Posey, Sheri Steisel)


SUPPLEMENTAL/UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION COMPLETE

After much deliberation Congress finally approved H.R. 4899, a war/disaster supplemental which President Obama signed into law on July 29. Included in the $59 billion ‘emergency’ legislation is $33 billion for the Pentagon to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, $5 billion to replenish FEMA’s disaster relief fund and $13 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs to compensate victims of Agent Orange. Omitted from the final bill was an additional $23 billion in education-dominated domestic spending, as the Senate failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to pass the provision that was previously included in the House-passed supplemental.

The President also signed into law an extension of unemployment benefits through November 30 for those who have exhausted their six months of benefits. The provision was taken out of the unsuccessful tax extenders bill, H.R. 4213, after the Senate was unable to bring the bill to a floor debate. The Congressional Budget Office expects the extension will cost $34 billion over the next ten years. (NCSL staff contacts: Diana Hinton Noel, Robert Strange (unemployment), Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley (fiscal issues generally))


APPROPRIATIONS GAIN STEAM

Appropriators in the House and Senate made modest progress in July, although both chambers are still behind the typical timetable for spending measures largely due to the lack of a budget resolution. The House and Senate both passed one-year top-line discretionary spending levels, which allowed House Appropriations to move all 12 of their fiscal spending bills through subcommittee and nine out of twelve bills in the Senate. Despite this action, don’t expect spending action to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2010 on September 30. An omnibus and continuing resolution are both in the cards after the November elections, with the possibility of extending into the new year. (NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley)


HHS MAKES TWO HEALTH CARE EXCHANGE ANNOUNCEMENTS

On July 29, 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it will make available up to $1 million in grants to each state to help begin work to establish health insurance exchanges authorized by the Affordable Care Act. Grant applications are available at http://www.healthcare.gov/center/grants. Applications are due by Sept. 1, 2010. HHS also announced that it is seeking comments from states and others as the agency develops rules and standards to govern insurance exchanges. Comments are due by Oct. 4, 2010 and the request for comment is available at http://www.healthcare.gov/center/regulations. NCSL will submit comments subsequent to circulation of a survey soliciting suggestions from states. That survey is currently being developed. (NCSL staff contacts: Joy Johnson Wilson, Rachel Morgan)


POLICIES AND PRESENTATIONS FROM LOUISVILLE

New policies guiding NCSL advocacy activities approved at the annual Legislative Summit in Louisville, Kentucky last month are available at http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?TabId=20934. Speeches and multimedia presentations from the Legislative Summit are available at http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?TabId=714&tabs=2638,140,1135#1135.