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BACK TO WORK. NCSL sent a letter today to congressional leadership urging passage of legislation that would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) for the first time since 1998. This legislation, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), would increase funding for job-retraining programs over a six-year period. The letter, signed by NCSL President Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Ore.) and NCSL President-elect Sen. Debbie Smith (D-Nev.), mentions several provisions in WIOA of particular importance to states. These include: 1) continued state discretion to establish or administer workforce development services, 2) providing flexibility on the use of funds by state and local governments, and 3) inclusion of funding for One-Stop career centers. The bill currently has bipartisan support, but the compromise reached by House and Senate leaders has yet to be tested. The Senate is scheduled to debate WIOA in mid-June. Stay tuned. NCSL staff contacts: Jon Jukuri, Ben Schaefer
RISKY BUSINESS. On June 6, NCSL sent a letter urging congressional leaders to enact a long-term reauthorization extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which is set to expire at the end of the 2014 calendar year. TRIA was enacted after the terrorist acts in 2001 to provide a temporary federal “backstop” to ensure the widespread availability and affordability of property and casualty insurance for acts of terrorism. NCSL President and President-elect, Senators Bruce Starr (R-Ore.) and Debbie Smith (D-Nev.), signed the letter and noted that “state policymakers are fully aware that failure to extend TRIA would likely result in the inability of insurers to offer widespread terrorism coverage for future catastrophes resulting from terrorism.” The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs unanimously approved the reauthorization earlier this week, while the House Financial Services Committee is expected to debate a modified reauthorization in the near future. NCSL staff contact: James Ward, Helen Narvasa
STATES OFFERED FLEXIBILITY TO REDUCE CO2. Earlier this week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed carbon dioxide standards on U.S. power plants that allow states the flexibility in developing their own implementation plans to reduce carbon pollution. EPA’s rule follows the administration’s Climate Action Plan, as it requires the power sector to cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. To accomplish this, EPA devised a formula to determine state-specific goals: the carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in pounds divided by state electricity generation from power plants in megawatt hours. State implementation plans for reducing carbon dioxide emissions are due by June 2016, although states may apply for a one-year extension Multi-state plans can request a two-year extension. The EPA proposed rule will be open for 120 days for public comment. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon
SUPREME COURT TO RULE ON FISCAL FEDERALISM CASE. In Comptroller v. Wynne, the Supreme Court will determine whether the U.S. Constitution requires states to offer a credit to its residents for income taxes paid to another jurisdiction. This case will have a significant impact on states’ broad taxation powers and is a question of federalism. Maryland law allowed the Wynnes of Howard County, Md., to receive a tax credit for state income taxes paid to other states, but Maryland’s comptroller did not grant the Wynnes a credit for Maryland’s county tax. Maryland’s highest state court held that the comptroller violated the dormant Commerce Clause, which denies states the power to unjustifiably discriminate against or burden interstate commerce. A Supreme Court decision against Maryland’s Comptroller in this case will limit state and local taxing authority as well as upend decades of settled law that reaffirms the broad taxation powers of states. State and Local Legal Center Contact: Lisa Soronen; NCSL staff contact: Susan Frederick
IN OTHER NEWS. The president is expected to sign and enact into law the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) next week that will reauthorize funding for water resource development and maintenance … Last month the House passed the “Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act.” Read NCSL’s comprehensive summary of the bill, which would streamline federal programs for charter schools … In lieu of the funding crisis for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), House leadership last week offered an informal plan to end the U.S. Postal Service’s Saturday mail delivery service and use the savings to ensure the short-term solvency of the HTF. This option, along with a short-term funding extension, will be debated in the House in the weeks ahead.
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.