Capitol to Capitol | Feb. 15, 2021

2/15/2021

House Committee Advances $350 Billion in Flexible Aid for State and Local Governments

NCSL staffer Erlinda Doherty has written a blog with all the details. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Erlinda Doherty and Jocelyn Salguero

NCSL Briefs Congress on State-Federal Education Priorities

NCSL staffer Austin Reid highlights the details in his blog. Read more.

House Ways and Means Advances Child Tax Credit Increase and EITC Expansion

As a key element of the $1.9 trillion COVID-relief package now being advanced through various congressional committees, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a proposal that would increase the Child Tax Credit maximum amount to $3,000 per child and $3,600 for children under age 6. It would also extend the credit to 17-year-olds. The increase in the maximum amount would begin to phase out at $150,000 in income for married couples, $112,500 for heads of households and $75,000 for other parents. The proposal would raise the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless adults from $530 to $1,500. It would also lower the age eligibility for the childless EITC from 25 to 19 and eliminate the upper age limit, which currently bars the credit for childless people age 65 and older. The proposal did not include a change to the $10,000 state and local deductions cap that was debated vociferously in the last Congress. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Erlinda Doherty and Jocelyn Salguero

SCOTUS Takes Up Eminent Domain Case Concerning State-Owned Land

The Supreme Court agreed to hear PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey, and will decide whether a private natural gas company may use the federal government’s eminent domain power to claim state land. Specifically, the Natural Gas Act (NGA) authorizes private companies like PennEast to obtain necessary rights-of-way through eminent domain to build pipelines. PennEast asked a federal district court to condemn 42 properties that belong to New Jersey to build a pipeline. New Jersey claims that the 11th Amendment’s sovereign immunity prevents a private company from taking it to court as the amendment prohibits states from being sued in federal court unless they have consented to suit. The 3rd Circuit Court agreed with New Jersey’s argument that “the federal government cannot delegate its exemption from state sovereign immunity to private parties like PennEast.” The federal government filed an amicus brief at the petition stage. It encouraged the court to hear the case and reverse the 3rd Circuit Court, arguing that the “text, structure, and history of the NGA make clear” natural gas companies may “acquire state-owned property necessary for constructing” approved interstate pipelines.” For more information, read the State and Local Legal Center’s blog.

NCSL Contacts: Kristen Hildreth (natural resources and infrastructure) and Lisa Soronen (State and Local Legal Center)

CDC and Department of Education Update Guidance for Reopening K-12 Schools

Newly updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) details how schools can reopen through consistent use of mitigation strategies, especially universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing. The Department of Education also released a supplementary COVID-19 Handbook that provides practical examples and road maps to implement the CDC's recommended safe practices for in-person learning. Notably, the CDC guidance encourages schools in low- and moderate-transmission zones to consider reopening for full in-person learning. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

Department of Education Announces Effort to Track School Reopening

The National Center for Education Statistics will survey schools on their instructional mode, including in-person, hybrid or remote; the breakdown of attendance rates by demographics, including race, socioeconomic status and student disabilities; and student groups prioritized for in-person instruction by selected school characteristics. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

Administration Announces Increase in Vaccine Shipments

Last week the administration announced that weekly vaccine shipments to states will increase to 11 million from 10.5 million. Officials also announced the launch of a vaccination program that will be run through community health centers (CHCs) in every state and territory. Shipments to the CHCs will include 1 million doses, enough for 500,000 vaccinations, with 250 health centers receiving initial doses. Shipments eventually will go to 1,400 centers across the U.S. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

DHS Commits to Equitable Distribution of Vaccines to Undocumented Individuals 

The Department of Homeland Security released a statement supporting the fair distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to all populations for both moral and public health reasons and encouraged all individuals to receive the vaccine once eligible, regardless of their immigration status. To assist in reaching the undocumented population, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will coordinate efforts to create fixed, temporary and mobile vaccination sites in underserved communities. Neither Immigration and Customs Enforcement nor Customs and Border Protection will carry out enforcement operations at or near vaccination sites. Read the full statement here.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson, Margaret Wile and Christian Burks (health and human services) Ann Morse (immigration) and Susan Frederick (law, criminal justice and public safety)

In Every Edition

Read the Feb. 8 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 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