ON THE HORIZON—FISCAL EDITION. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) is expected to release his tax reform proposal this week. Chairman Camp, who is term-limited as chair of the House tax writing committee at the end of the 113th Congress, faces a combination of hurdles to revise the federal tax code - including election-year politics and a new negotiating partner. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) replaced Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who was recently confirmed as ambassador to China, to head the Senate Finance Committee. Both Chairman Camp and Wyden will need to decide the fate of a combination of tax provisions, referred to as “tax extenders,” which expired at the end of 2013.
The Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act (H.R. 899) is expected to be debated on the floor of the full House as soon as Thursday. Long supported by NCSL, the bill would strengthen the analysis and oversight of federal intergovernmental mandates on state and local governments. H.R. 899 would expand the scope of reporting requirements to include new conditions of grant aid and require identification of any reasonably foreseeable indirect costs. NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Jeff Hurley
E-FAIRNESS LEGISLATION – ONE CLICK CLOSER. On Tuesday, March 4, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the issue of remote sales tax collection. While the hearing will not focus on a specific bill, including the Marketplace Fairness Act, the committee will examine key aspects of the legislation. NCSL staff contacts: Neal Osten, Max Behlke
CONGRESS TO AVOID DEBT LIMIT SHOWDOWN. With the threat of a government default looming, the president signed legislation earlier this month to suspend the nation’s debt limit until March 15, 2015. Both the House and Senate passed the measure, S. 540, by respective votes of 221-201 and 55-43. The Department of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recently noted that the use of “extraordinary measures” would be able to finance the federal government only until the end of February. The House was originally set to include several other provisions in addition to suspending the statutory debt limit, such as repealing a cost-of-living-adjustment for veterans under the age of 62 and establishing a fund to pay for reductions to Medicare’s physician payment formula. These would have been offset by extending sequestration for mandatory programs by an additional year. This continues the recent federal trend of providing fiscal clarity for states, and will likely avoid credit rating downgrades for states and localities. NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Jeff Hurley
A DOOR OPENS…AND CLOSES. After a great deal of pushback, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that immigration reform would not be on the calendar. Speaker Boehner had unveiled the House leadership’s immigration principles at the House Republican retreat, which met many of NCSL policy goals. Experts say the issue could reemerge after the primary season ends. In the meantime, the House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings this week on immigration enforcement. NCSL staff contacts: Susan Parnas Frederick, Sheri Steisel
NCSL PARTICIPATES IN P3 ROUNDTABLE. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s newly created panel on Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) held their first meeting on Feb. 11. The roundtable session, titled “Case Studies in Public-Private Partnerships,” discussed how the use of P3s could help state and local governments maintain and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. The panel included state Rep. Terri Austin (D-Ind.), a former vice-chair of NCSL’s Transportation Committee and former chairman of the House Transportation Committee in Indiana. Rep. Austin discussed her work on the Indiana Toll Road, which the state funded through a P3 agreement in 2006 and her efforts to establish NCSL’s Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation Toolkit. The panel is expected to provide recommendations to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the reauthorization of surface transportation programs later this year. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon