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

Volume 20   Issue 14 - April 18, 2013

MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS NEXT UP

With Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement Wednesday that the Senate will suspend debate on gun legislation next week, the Marketplace Fairness Act moves up to next in line. This NCSL-endorsed legislation would authorize states that have adopted tax simplification provisions to collect sales and use taxes from remote sellers. A new, unchanged version of the Marketplace Fairness Act, S. 743, will be the vehicle. Senator Reid will seek unanimous Senate consent to proceed to the bill today. If any member objects, that will set up a 60-vote cloture motion to proceed to the bill early next week. The strong showing of support for the act demonstrated during debate on the Senate budget resolution prompted the majority leader's scheduling decision. State legislators’ communications to their U.S. senators were pivotal on the budget resolution vote (75 “aye” votes). NCSL urges similar communication now expressing support for S. 743, the Marketplace Fairness Act. NCSL staff contacts: Neal Osten, Max Behlke


SENATE STARTS IMMIGRATION REFORM JOURNEY

On Wednesday eight U.S. senators unveiled their long-anticipated bipartisan immigration reform bill, S. 744. Hearings will begin tomorrow on border security, path to citizenship, visa reforms and employment verification provisions. The 844-page bill drew an initial positive response from NCSL's leadership with caveats that the costs for state- and local-based health and education integration of Registered Provisional Immigrants be paid for and that federal policymakers work with state legislators on issues of mutual responsibility.

The bill would create a $6.5 billion trust fund with a separate account for border security funded initially by the federal government. The fund will be sustained through various visa fees and penalties. It would also require an e-verify program for all employees, prohibit national identification cards and reauthorize the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program through 2015. The legislation addresses myriad visa programs, their backlogs and preferences, including restructured agricultural worker and rural doctor (Conrad) programs. The path to citizenship for Registered Provisional Immigrants would require 10 years of provisional status, three additional years of legal permanent residence, fee and fine payments, English language proficiency, proof of employment and no federal tax liabilities. The Senate Judiciary is expected to mark-up S. 744 on May 9. A NCSL summary and statement are available here: http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=26100; http://www.ncsl.org/press-room/immigration-bill-press-release.aspx. NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Emily Wengrovius (citizenship, visas, Dream Act, integration costs, employment), Susan Parnas Frederick, Jennifer Arguinzoni (law enforcement, border security, SCAAP), Ann Morse (immigration generally, state laws), Joy Johnson Wilson (health)


PENSION TRANSPARENCY BILL INTRODUCED

Congressman Devin Nunes of California today re-introduced the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act (PEPTA) to establish federal accounting and funding standards for state and local plans. Earlier this month, NCSL and nine other state and local associations sent a letter urging members of the 113th Congress to protect state and local public pension authority by not co-sponsoring the pending legislation. This letter can be read here: http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/budget/pepta-april-2013.aspx. PEPTA would harm state and local infrastructure financing by eliminating the tax-exempt status on municipal bonds if they do not meet the reporting requirements. It also introduces yet another method for calculating liabilities in addition to the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB), Moody’s Investor Services, and state funding practices. This same bill was introduced in the 112th Congress but went nowhere, largely due opposition from state and local governments. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley (D.C. office), Luke Martel, Tamara Rivale (Denver office)


ON THE HORIZON

Oregon Senator Bruce Starr, NCSL’s president-elect, will testify next week in front of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit on behalf of NCSL. Sen. Starr will provide a state legislative perspective on the implementation of MAP-21, the federal surface transportation law that was approved last July. … U.S. Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski of Maryland says she will ignore sequestration reductions as she writes FY 2014 spending bills. Both the Senate budget resolution and the president’s FY 2014 budget call for eliminating the sequester, while the House budget resolution assumes the reductions will continue.