NCSL Testifies Before Senate Committee on Transportation Funding and Financing
NCSL Transportation Program Director Doug Shinkle testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week on the important issue of transportation funding and financing, with a focus on how states have addressed funding shortfalls. NCSL supports a user-fee, formula-based national transportation funding stream, and encourages continued outreach to and consultation with states to develop a shared, long-term vision for funding and financing surface transportation systems that will enhance the nation’s prosperity and quality of life for all Americans. Read what Doug had to say in NCSL’s blog. Read more.
Six Trump Administration Regulations Subject to Congressional Disapproval Vote
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is a little-known oversight tool Congress may use to overturn final rules issued by federal agencies. While the CRA can be used at any time, it is most frequently used during a change in administration. April 4 marked the last day for members of Congress to introduce resolutions of disapproval under the CRA for regulations finalized after Aug. 21, 2020, by the previous administration. The Senate must act before mid-May to exercise its fast-track authority to move the resolutions without the threat of a filibuster.
In the 117th Congress, six resolutions have been issued targeting rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Social Security Administration.
For more information on the CRA, or to follow introduced resolutions, visit NCSL’s webpage here.
Congress Delays Cuts to Medicare
Congress voted to delay scheduled cuts to Medicare for another nine months, until Dec. 31, 2021. President Biden signed the bill (H.R. 1868) last week. Medicare sequestration was required under the 2011 Budget Control Act, reducing payments by a maximum of 2% annually.
Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act Reintroduced
The bipartisan, bicameral efforts seek to strengthen and expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Both House and Senate bills include a 50% increase in the 9% Housing Credit authority, lower the threshold of Private Activity Bonds from 50% to 25%, and update the casualty loss provision to allow for a longer rebuilding period after natural disasters, if necessary. Read more.
Treasury Launches New Website on COVID-19 Relief
The page provides an overview of federal COIVD-19 assistance, including the aid provided to state, local and tribal governments in the American Rescue Plan. Last week Treasury posted information on how eligible recipients of funds can prepare in advance. You can sign up to receive notifications from Treasury, as they are posted. Read more.
FEMA Assistance for COVID-19-Related Funeral Expenses
Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has begun processing applications for funeral assistance through its call center. There is no online application portal. Applicants may apply by calling 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. Multilingual services are available. To be eligible for funeral assistance, applicants must meet the following conditions:
- The death must have occurred in the United States and funeral expenses must have been incurred after Jan. 20, 2020.
- The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien. There is no requirement that the deceased be a U.S. citizen.
- The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
HUD Seeks to Restore Obama-era Fair Housing Rules
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development submitted two fair housing rules for review. The first is the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which requires local governments that accept federal housing dollars to review their policies and actively work toward reversing segregation. The second is the discriminatory effects standard, better known as the disparate impact rule, which bars seemingly neutral policies in lending, renting and selling that result in discrimination. Read more.
Homeowner Assistance Fund Guidance Released
States must apply by April 25, 2021, to be eligible for payments, otherwise funds will be reallocated among those states that requested funding by the statutory deadline. A state’s share of the $9.96 billion provided in the American Rescue Plan for homeowner relief is based on the average number of unemployed individuals and the number of mortgagors with mortgage payments that are more than 30 days past due or mortgages in foreclosure. Read more.
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NCSL's Advocacy in Washington
NCSL's Washington staff advocate Congress, the White House and federal agencies on behalf of state legislatures in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policies positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.
NCSL Staff in Washington, D.C.
- Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Director
- Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Budgets and Revenue
- Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
- Abbie Gruwell 202-624-3569 | Commerce and Financial Services
- Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure
- Jon Jukuri | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
- Haley Nicholson | 202-624-8662 | Health
- Margaret Wile | 202-624-8171 | Human Services
- Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education