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NCSL URGES CONGRESS TO EX/IMPORT THE GOODS. With the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s current reauthorization scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, (the end of the federal fiscal year), NCSL urged congressional leaders not only to reauthorize the bank but also to increase its lending cap. In a letter sent on June 16, co-chairs of NCSL’s Labor and Economic Development Committee, Senators Brandt Hershman (Ind.) and Gary LeBeau (Conn.), stressed the importance of a multi-year reauthorization with transparency mechanisms to protect American businesses and workers. NCSL opposes any short-term, stopgap measure that could erode confidence in American exports. Chairman of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) held a hearing on the Export-Import Bank last week, while Senate leadership is supporting reauthorization and plans to debate the measure on the Senate floor in the coming months. Stay tuned. NCSL staff contacts: Jon Jukuri, Ben Schaefer
SETTING THE RECORD ON PUBLIC PENSIONS. During the past five years, public retirement plans have come under increased scrutiny. Concerns arose after the value of securities plummeted following the 2008 economic crisis and changes were made in accounting standards and funding requirements. NCSL, along with other state and local government groups, continue to seek clarification on the status of state and local government pension plans. The latest example is a letter sent to Commissioner Daniel Gallagher of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who late last month misrepresented the financial reporting of public retirement systems in remarks he made before the Municipal Security Rulemaking Board. The letter cites the many significant reforms state and local governments have made to their retirement plans over the past five years, along with two reports, a 2014 Fact Sheet and a pension funding guideline for state and local officials, that clarify misperceptions of the overall financial condition of states and municipalities. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley
RUNNING OUT OF GAS. With only weeks remaining before the Highway Trust Fund’s (HTF) declining balance may force DOT to delay reimbursements to states for highway construction projects, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) are working to craft a bi-partisan plan to fund the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) until the end of the 2014 calendar year. At a cost of $7.6 billion the proposal would tighten compliance with certain tax laws and transfer $750 million from the Leaking Underground Storage Trust (LUST) to the HTF. Additionally, in order to ensure the long-term solvency of the HTF, Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Christopher Murphy (D-CT) recently proposed a bipartisan plan to pay for the nation’s highway and transit programs. It includes a 12-cent increase in the federal gas tax implemented over 2 years followed by indexing the tax rate to inflation, which would raise $164 billion over 10 years. The senators support permanently extending some of the “tax extenders” currently being debated in Congress to offset the revenue increase, including deductions to state and local sale taxes. Congressional leaders anticipate debating a short-term fix for the HTF after the July 4 recess, with a long-term solution targeted after the November election. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon
(TAX) ACCESS DENIED. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved legislation (H.R. 3086) earlier this month that would preempt some state and local government laws by making permanent the current Internet tax moratorium. The Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), which prohibits state or local governments from taxing Internet access, was originally enacted in 1998 with its current reauthorization set to expire on Nov. 1, 2014. H.R. 3086 would also eliminate the grandfather provision in previous versions of the law that was included to preserve state and local government revenues on Internet access already being collected prior to the federal moratorium. The measure is expected to be debated on the House floor in the next few weeks, with the Senate following suit before the August recess. The Senate version will likely attach the Marketplace Fairness Act, legislation that would give qualifying states the authority to require remote sellers to collect those states’ sales and use taxes. NCSL staff contacts: Max Behlke, Neal Osten
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