Capitol to Capitol | Vol. 22, Issue 8

5/5/2015

Capitol to CapitolPrefer to view an update of recent NCSL advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., and vital federal legislation? No problem. Go here to watch an overview of this week’s Capitol-to-Capitol. #Cap2Cap.

NCSL TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE ON TRANSPORTATION FUNDING. NCSL president-elect and Utah Senate President Pro Tempore Curt Bramble (R) testified this morning at a Senate hearing on surface transportation reauthorization. Speaking on the behalf of NCSL, Bramble addressed a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and urged members to take up a long-term reauthorization that provides states certainty and explores alternative funding and financing options. In his testimony, Bramble discussed the impact federal inaction has on states. “The uncertainty that pervades short-term extensions makes it extremely challenging for states to adequately plan and achieve their performance targets especially because many transportation infrastructure projects require a multi-year commitment.” NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon

ANTI-TRAFFICKING BILL HEADS TO HOUSE. Anti-human trafficking legislation moved one step closer to final passage on April 22 when the Senate overwhelmingly approved S. 178, the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.” The measure now moves to the House, which earlier this year passed a package of anti-human trafficking bills. Many of the House provisions are similar to those contained in S. 178. NCSL joined other state and local government associations in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expressing support of S. 178 and urging the measure to be brought to the House floor in a timely manner. The Senate-passed bill is the first comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that addresses all aspects of human trafficking, including law enforcement training, to better identify and apprehend traffickers as well provide victim’s services assistance. As it’s likely the House will consider S. 178 next week after they return from a one-week recess, we urge you to call your U.S. House delegation and request them to vote for final passage of this bill. NCSL staff contacts: Susan Frederick, Jennifer Arguinzoni

FEDERAL BUDGET UPDATE. The Senate is expected to follow the House’s lead and approve a FY 2016 budget blueprint (S. Con. Res. 11) this week, marking the first time since 2010 that Congress has adopted a concurrent budget resolution. The House last week passed the spending framework by a vote of 226-197. The plan reflects the statutory spending caps for discretionary spending set at $523 billion for defense and $493 billion for non-defense. The budget resolution provides additional defense resources through a separate allocation of $96 billion to Overseas Contingency Operations, which is not subject to the spending cap. What’s next? Assuming 51 senators vote in favor of the budget resolution, the appropriations process will ramp-up, with the House last week already approving several spending measures. More details on the budget resolution to follow. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley

AVIATION REAUTHORIZATION UP IN THE AIR.  NCSL reiterated concerns over funding and financing of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and urged members to avoid another short-term fix in a letter to a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The subcommittee held a hearing last Tuesday to discuss the reauthorization of the FAA, which is currently scheduled to expire on Sept. 30. Passengers may remain seated, however, as the previous reauthorization required 23 short-term extensions. The letter also calls for increasing the cap of the Passenger Facility Charge, currently limited to $4.50, to restore purchasing power and keep pace with inflation. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon    

NCSL CALLS FOR A SAFE HARBOR ON WATER RESOURCE FUNDING. On April 27, NCSL issued a letter to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding the FY 2016 funding allocation for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. In recent years, annual appropriations for harbor maintenance needs have been lower than the $1.8 billion in annual revenue collected by the trust fund. The letter urges lawmakers to adhere to NCSL’s policy on waterways and ports, which opposes the build-up of harbor maintenance tax receipts as it imposes a competitive burden without providing necessary infrastructure improvements. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon


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.