State Lawmakers Vote on States’ Agenda for Upcoming Year

8/6/2015

NCSL NewsNCSL Awards Work of State Legislative Staff and Agencies

Seattle—The 41st annual NCSL Legislative Summit in Seattle came to a close Thursday, and state legislators voted on polices that will guide the organization’s advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., in the year ahead.

“This is perhaps one of the most important things we do at the annual legislative summit,” outgoing President and Nevada state Senator Debbie Smith said. “NCSL effectively works to enhance the role of states and state legislatures in the federal system and these polices reinforce our hard work on behalf of the nation’s 7,383 state lawmakers. While the policies range in focus, they are bound by a simple belief that the state-federal partnership operates best when states are not hindered by pre-emptive restrictions and unfunded federal mandates.”

For a policy directive or resolution to pass, it must be approved by at least three-fourths of the states attending the annual business meeting.

State legislators passed a key resolution supporting the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA). A top priority for NCSL, the bipartisan Remote Transactions Parity Act would give states the authority to collect sales taxes already owed by their residents who make out-of-state sales. The legislation would also ensure that online sellers are not burdened, as it dictates important audit protections for business and requires states to pay for all costs associated with accounting software. This is an updated version an expiring resolution that supported the Marketplace Fairness Act.

In addition to voting to support the RTPA, NCSL also adopted a new resolution that opposes congressional pre-emption of state taxing authority of Internet access before being given remote sales tax collection authority.

In light of the recent debate in Washington regarding transportation funding, the passage of a policy directive on surface transportation and a policy resolution regarding solving the nation’s long-term transportation funding crisis were timely as each reiterated the need for Congress to find a solution to fix America’s aging infrastructure. The Surface Transportation Federalism directive outlines lawmakers’ long-term vision for financing and funding surface transportation systems in the U.S., while the resolution urges Congress to allocate funds to states to support state-level pilot programs to explore transportation funding alternatives to fuel taxes.

Regarding education, lawmakers called for flexibility in funding, the development of state-based accountability systems and voluntary common standards, and effective teachers for all students in a renewed resolution that supports reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This policy renewal reiterates NCSL’s commitment to education, which was proven this past year as NCSL staff in Washington worked diligently with members of Congress and their staff’s on reauthorization of this federal education title.

Lawmakers also adopted a new resolution aimed at protecting state and local authority regarding proposed federal standards concerning the collection, use and security of student data. This resolution, entitled “Student Data Privacy,” directs Congress to support state activity, better align federal regulations, reduce state and local burdens, promote transparency, and provide a better understanding of the proposed standards.

The conference also adopted resolutions that urge Congress to repeal the federal ban on sports gambling, and allow state legislatures to authorize sports gambling by statute as well as a resolution calling upon Congress to allow states to determine their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference.

A full list of policy directives and resolutions that were voted on is available on NCSL's website.

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NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.