Capitol to Capitol | April 25, 2022

4/25/2022

Rule Restricting State Authority to Implement Clean Water Act Reinstated

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court reinstated a 2020 rule from the Environmental Protection Agency concerning implementation of the Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule. The rule significantly limits state authority and autonomy to certify, condition or deny any required federal permits and licenses for projects that would result in the discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States. The court’s ruling overturns decisions by both a federal district court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had vacated the 2020 rule. For more information on the 2020 rulemaking, read NCSL’s Info Alert here. For information on the Supreme Court’s decision, read NCSL’s Info Alert here, and the State and Local Legal Center’s blog post here.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

White House Issues Rural Infrastructure Playbook

The White House released a Rural Infrastructure Playbook for implementing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The playbook details the resources available to rural communities under the infrastructure bill, where to apply, funding flexibilities and how to find more information. It also includes a list of more than 100 programs with cost-share or matching requirement waivers, along with agency-specific fact sheets for the rural programs in the bill. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

White House Releases New Buy American Requirements For IIJA

The White House issued requirements for how projects funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act should source their construction materials from U.S. companies—the “Buy American” policy. The guidance requires that material for roads, bridges, pipelines and other projects be purchased from domestic sources beginning May 14. The guidance seeks to “increase reliance on domestic supply chains and reduce the need for waivers,” with exceptions to the Buy American policy being made public before waivers are granted. The goal is to ensure American workers and companies benefit from increased infrastructure spending and reduce U.S. reliance on China for critical supplies. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

DOT Grant Announcements Schedule Released

The U.S. Department of Transportation, at the behest of many groups, including NCSL, published a schedule for upcoming grant announcements due to the significant number of new grants and changes to existing grants that were included in the federal infrastructure bill.  Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Administration Awards Nearly $105M to Strengthen Crisis Call Center Services Ahead of Transition to 988

The administration has also developed playbooks and other documents to help states and territories assess and improve the operational readiness of these critical groups to support implementation of 988. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Charlie Severance-Medaris

HHS Releases Draft Rule Updating Medicare Enrollment and Eligibility

The proposed changes include providing Medicare coverage the month immediately after enrollment, allowing eligible beneficiaries to receive Medicare Part B coverage without a late-enrollment penalty and extending coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for certain beneficiaries. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Molly Ramsdell

Department of Education Announces Changes to Student Loan Income-Driven Repayment Plans

The office of Federal Student Aid is making a one-time revision of income-driven repayment (IDR)-qualifying payments for all Direct Student Loans and federally managed Federal Family Education Loan Program loans. Any months in which borrowers made payments will count toward the IDR, regardless of repayment plan. Payments made prior to consolidation on consolidated loans will also count. Any borrower who has made the required number of payments for IDR forgiveness based on this payment-count revision will receive loan cancellation automatically. The Federal Student Aid office will count months spent in deferment prior to 2013 toward IDR forgiveness. Additionally, the office will also conduct a one-time account adjustment that will count forbearances of more than 12 months consecutive and more than 36 months cumulative toward forgiveness under the IDR and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.

The Federal Student Aid office estimates these changes will result in immediate debt cancellation for at least 40,000 borrowers under the PSLF Program. Several thousand borrowers with older loans will receive forgiveness through the IDR. More than 3.6 million borrowers will also receive at least three years of additional credit toward IDR forgiveness.

In 2023, the Federal Student Aid office will begin displaying IDR payment counts on StudentAid.gov so borrowers can view their progress after logging into their accounts. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

Student Loan Pause Extended Through Aug. 31, 2022

The latest extension continues the suspension of federal student loan repayment, interest accrual and collection activities. Borrowers were previously expected to resume payments after May 1. The Department of Education also announced plans to allow borrowers currently in default to reenter repayment in good standing. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

FCC Opens Application Window for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program

The Federal Communications Commission announced that a third application window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund will open April 28 and close May 13. The $7.17 billion fund was authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to help schools and libraries provide the tools and services their communities need. The program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Co. with FCC oversight. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler (education) and Erlinda Doherty (communications)

HHS Seeks Input on Dietary Guidelines  

The department is seeking comments on the 2025-2030 dietary guidelines by releasing proposed scientific questions for public comment through May 16. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Molly Ramsdell

Additional LIHEAP Funding Released

The administration released over $385 million in additional funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This is the fourth tranche of LIHEAP funding released in the past 12 months. To access state-by-state numbers and more details, read more.

NCSL Contact: Molly Ramsdell

In Every Edition

Read the April 5 Capitol to Capitol.

NCSL's Advocacy in Washington

NCSL’s Washington staff advocates on behalf of state legislatures before Congress, the White House and federal agencies 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 policy 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 | Budget and Revenue |  Health and Human Services
  • Patrick Lawler | 202-624-8697 | Budget and Revenue
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
  • Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure
  • Kristen Hildreth | 202-624-3597 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Jon Jukuri  | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education
  • Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce