TEETERING ON THE FISCAL BRINK. The likelihood of a government shutdown on Oct. 1 dwindled last week as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his resignation from his leadership position and Congress as of Oct. 31. A 10-week continuing resolution (CR) is expected to make its way through both chambers in the next few days. This proposal would be a “clean” stopgap spending bill and would not remove funding for Planned Parenthood, a point of contention in recent budget discussions. Passage of this continuing resolution sets the stage for a fiscal cliff later this year, with the Dec. 11 deadline coinciding with the reinstatement of the federal debt limit and the expiration of tax extenders. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley
DRIVING A HARD BARGAIN. Before passing yet another short-term extension earlier this summer, the Senate passed the DRIVE Act (H.R. 22), an attempt at an overdue six-year surface transportation reauthorization. NCSL thanked Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the committee's ranking member, last week for their persistence in prioritizing a long-term vision for the national surface transportation system, while also offering several recommendations on how the legislation can be more state-friendly. In particular, NCSL voiced concerns over a reduction in the state allocation of funds in the Surface Transportation Program (STP), along with reduced annual funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Program (TIFIA), which helps incentivize private sector investment. The letter also conveys NCSL’s appreciation of the creation of a pilot program for states to research transportation system funding alternatives. The DRIVE Act received bipartisan support in the Senate, passing by a vote of 65-34 in late July. An agreement with the House, however, failed largely because of differences in length of the reauthorization and funding mechanisms. Currently, federal highway and infrastructure programs are funded until Oct. 29. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon
CHEMICAL IMBALANCE IN TSCA LEGISLATION. NCSL joined forces with the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) in a letter that both thanks Senate leadership for efforts this year to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and lays out additional changes to modernize the regulation of toxic chemicals. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemic Safety for the 21st Century Act (S. 697), named after the late senator who advocated for TSCA reform, received bipartisan approval by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee earlier this year and is expected to be on the Senate floor later this year. Specifically, NCSL and ECOS urged changes in S. 697 that would: 1) avoid pre-emption of state action during the assessment phase, 2) amend waiver provision language, and 3) address resource issues. NCSL staff contacts: Susan Frederick, Melanie Condon
ODDS AND ENDS. NCSL, in partnership with the National Governors Association, filed an amicus brief before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the state of Tennessee’s appeal of a recent Federal Communications Commission ruling pre-empting state regulation of municipal broadband networks. For additional information, please contact Susan Frederick. Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the Senate earlier this month to repeal the 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans, commonly referred to as the “Cadillac tax.” Set to take effect in 2018, this excise tax would be imposed on employers, including state and local governments, and insurance companies for plans exceeding the threshold of $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for family coverage.
Capitol to Capitol is a publication of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the premier bipartisan organization representing the interest of states, territories and commonwealths. The conference operates from offices in Denver and Washington, D.C.