Capitol to Capitol | April 27, 2020

4/27/2020

A $484 billion interim COVID-19 response package was enacted last week and talks are already underway for the next legislative vehicle, which would represent the fourth massive federal response to the pandemic. Expected to contain significant additional funding for states, negotiations are already in progress for what is being dubbed “Phase 4” or “CARES Act 2.0.” 

NCSL in D.C.

Letters/Statements

Blogs

Congress Passes Interim COVID-19 Response Package

Last week the president signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which provides $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, $100 billion to hospitals for aid and more testing capability and $60 billion for small business disaster loans. For more details, read the NCSL Blog, “A Quick Review of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.”

NCSL Contacts: Erlinda Doherty (general), Tres York (PPP), Haley Nicholson (hospitals), and Lucia Bragg (disaster loans)

Treasury Releases Coronavirus Relief Fund Guidance 

The Department of Treasury issued guidance outlining the authorized expenditures allowed for funds disbursed to eligible recipients from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) as established in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. A broad range of expenses are permissible, but neither revenue replacement for budget shortfalls nor federal Medicaid cost-sharing requirements are allowable expenditures. Please visit the Department of Treasury’s COVID-19 response website for more detailed information regarding these covered expenditures. The Treasury also posted an FAQ document.

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

ACL Funds Go Out for Older Americans and Americans with Disabilities

The Administration for Community Living announced the availability of $1 billion in CARES Act grants. The funding will go to support older adults and people with disabilities during the COVID-19 emergency. Grants will offer additional resources to programs supporting community living, including those that deliver meals, ensure safe transitions home after hospitalizations, and provide other essential services to older Americans and Americans with disabilities.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

HHS Allocations of CARES Act Provider Relief Fund

Last week Health and Human Services made an announcement regarding the remaining funding provided to health care providers under the CARES Act through the Provider Relief Fund. Here is a breakdown of the funding.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

Education Department Makes $13.2 Billion Available in Emergency Coronavirus Relief to School Districts

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that more than $13.2 billion in emergency relief funds allocated by the CARES Act are now available to state and local education agencies to support continued learning for K-12 students. Funds can help states and districts provide tools and resources for distance education, support student health and safety, and develop and implement plans for the next school year. The department intends to process each submitted form within three business days of receipt. More information can be found here.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

Education Department Provides $6 Billion in Additional Grant Funding to Support Higher Education Institutions

DeVos announced an additional $6.2 billion grant to support higher education institutions. The funding is available through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the CARES Act. The funding for these "Recipient Institutional Costs" is separate from the funding previously made available for "Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students." To access the funds, higher education institutions must submit a Certification and Agreement for Recipient Institutional Costs, which can be found here.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

Supreme Court Rules in Groundwater Clean Water Act Case

In County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) held 6-3 that the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires those discharging pollutants into navigable waters to obtain a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The CWA forbids “any addition” of any pollutant from “any point source” to “navigable waters” without the appropriate EPA permit. The court ruled that a permit is required when there is a direct discharge from a point source into navigable waters or when there is the “functional equivalent of a direct discharge.” The finding is contradictory to the EPA’s statement issued April 2019 which stated that “releases of pollutants to groundwater are categorically excluded” from CWA’s permitting requirements because Congress explicitly reserved regulation of discharges to groundwater to the states, and to the EPA under other statutory authorities.  

For more information, read a blog by the State and Local Legal Center.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

SCOTUS Rules Against Bringing State Law Claims in Superfund Case

In a 7-2 decision in Atlantic Richfield v. Christian, SCOTUS held that landowners located on a Superfund site who wanted additional remedies beyond the EPA plan to clean up the site could not sue in state court. Before cleaning up a Superfund site, the EPA conducts a study to evaluate cleanup options. SCOTUS held that the Montana Supreme Court had jurisdiction to hear this case but that it could not go forward because the landowners were potentially responsible parties under the Superfund statute who needed, but did not obtain, EPA approval to pursue their own remedial plan.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

The Reading Room

The Reading Room: CARES Act Specific

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 and Human Services
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education