Capitol to Capitol
An Information Service of NCSL's Standing Committees

Volume 19   Issue 21 - June 29, 2012
 

COURT:  HEALTH CARE REFORM DECISION

Today at 2:00 p.m. EDT, NCSL will host a conference call on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its implication for states. An NCSL summary of the Court’s decision yesterday in National Federal of Independent Business, et al. v. Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, et al. is available at http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=24596. All legislators and legislative staff have been sent emails with details on how to participate in the call. If you need help or more information, contact events@ncsl.org. NCSL staff contacts: Joy Johnson Wilson, Rachel Morgan


ON THE ROAD AGAIN!

States will get another 27 months of surface transportation program and funding certainty with today’s likely passage of H.R. 4348, which reauthorizes surface transportation programs along with student loan provisions. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) will extend authorization for the Highway Trust Fund and surface transportation programs at current levels, adjusted for inflation, through Sept. 30, 2014. Funding will come from the highway trust fund, but will require generous transfers from the General Revenue Fund ($18.8 billion) and the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund ($2.4 billion). The General Fund revenue will be offset by changes in federal pensions. The legislation also consolidates several highway programs, adds a new National Highway Performance Program, shortens the review process for new projects from 15 to seven years, and directs 80 percent of fines from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to the surrounding states. Excluded from the conference agreement are provisions that would have reduced state apportionments based on privatized toll highways, as well as any language relating to the Keystone XL oil pipeline project and coal ash regulation. An NCSL summary of H.R. 4348 is available at: http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=24933.  NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Jennifer Arguinzoni (transportation, energy), Tamra Spielvogel, Marcus Peterson (environment)


FARM BILL WEBINAR TODAY

NCSL is conducting a webinar today at 3:30 p.m. EDT on the farm bill and what it means for states. The Senate passed S. 3240 on June 21, and the House committee is expected to act on it after the 4th of July congressional recess. Nutrition, crop subsidies, insurance and other issues will be addressed. You can register for the webinar at: http://www.ncls.org/state-federal-committees/scagee/e-learning-webinar-series.aspx. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Marcus Peterson (farm bill generally), Sheri Steisel, Emily Wengrovius (nutrition)


NEW PENSION STANDARDS ANNOUNCED

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board approved two new statements aimed at “substantially improving the accounting and financial reporting of public employee pensions by state and local governments.” The new standards require reporting “net pension liabilities” but not the “required contribution” on annual financial reports. Statement 68 requires governments that offer defined benefit pensions to recognize their long-term pension obligations as liabilities. It also requires employers with cost-sharing plans to report their share of the net liability and expenses of the pension plan. Statement 67 broadens the information on notes and investment return required in annual financial statements. Statements 67 and 68 become effective on June 15, 2013 and June 15, 2014, respectively. For additional information, please go to http://www.gasb.org. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley (D.C. office), Ron Snell (Denver office)


GREENHOUSE GAS REGULATORY AUTHORITY UPHELD

The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to control greenhouse gas emissions for vehicles, power plants and other emitters. The Court’s June 26 ruling unanimously backed EPA’s public health and welfare “endangerment” finding and supporting scientific conclusions. The ruling keeps the door open for future expansion of vehicle and power plant emission controls. It also likely intensifies efforts to block such controls through both legislation and policy riders to appropriations measures. NCSL staff contacts: Tamra Spielvogel, Marcus Peterson