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

Volume 20   Issue 17 - May 24, 2013 

FARM BILL ADVANCES IN BOTH CHAMBERS

Last week committees in both the House and Senate approved legislation that would authorize most federal nutrition programs. “The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013” (S. 954), nearly identical to legislation passed in the Senate last year, began debate on the Senate floor this week. The House Agriculture Committee, meanwhile, approved H.R. 1947, the “Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.” NCSL’s Human Services and Welfare Committee, co-chaired by Senator Patrick Gallivan of New York and Representative Mary Jane Wallner of New Hampshire, submitted letters to both the Senate and House agriculture committees, in which they urged lawmakers to continue the state-federal administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and oppose any provisions that limit and reduce state flexibility in administering SNAP. NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Emily Wengrovius


NUCLEAR WASTE AWAY

In late April a bipartisan group of senators released a draft discussion bill targeting nuclear waste management. The Nuclear Waste Administration Act (NWAA) of 2013 would follow-up on the 2012 recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future by creating a nuclear waste administration and developing a process for siting nuclear waste facilities. In response to the Senate’s discussion draft, the co-chairs of NCSL’s Environment and Energy, Transportation and Agriculture Committees sent a letter to the co-sponsors of the act urging Congress “to move expeditiously to review and act on legislation that builds on the recommendation for a new national radioactive waste management strategy.” The letter also notes that while NCSL recognizes the need to develop repository and storage facility siting processes that are efficient and effective, efforts to streamline this process do not necessitate overlooking the role of state legislatures in the process. NCSL staff contacts: Tamra Spielvogel, Ben Husch, Melanie Condon


FEDERAL FISCAL UPDATE

Unable to come to agreement with the Senate on a budget proposal, the House on Tuesday approved by voice vote a top-line discretionary spending limit for FY 2014. The $967 billion plan abides by the reductions from sequestration, a point of contention with budget leaders in the Senate. The plan proposed by House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers would increase spending for defense at the expense of domestic discretionary programs. All signs point to another continuing resolution at the beginning of FY 2014.
 
With budget allocations finalized, the appropriations cycle began. First, the House Appropriations Committee unanimously approved Military Construction/Veterans’ Affairs and Homeland Security. Both spending bills received slight boosts from the enacted levels in FY 2013. The Senate is expected to mark-up these bills in mid-June. Up next for House appropriators will likely be the Agriculture and Defense spending bills. Stay tuned. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley


PROPOSED CHANGES TO CHILD CARE REGULATIONS

The Department of Health and Human Services last week released proposed revisions to regulations in the Child Care and Development Fund. This federal grant program, with a FY 2013 budget of $5 billion, provides child care for low-income parents to participate in educational or job training programs. The proposed rule addresses health and safety training and on-site monitoring of all child care providers. The 75-day comment period began on May 20. NCSL encourages you to contact NCSL staff if you have any insights or concerns on how these proposed changes may affect your state. NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Emily Wengrovius


STRONG STATES | STRONG NATION

Early registration for NCSL’s Legislative Summit in Atlanta (Aug. 12-15) ends on May 31. Click here to register and to find out additional information on NCSL’s premier meeting.