Capitol to Capitol | Feb. 28, 2022

2/28/2022

NCSL Hosts Broadband Briefing With NTIA

NCSL recently hosted a briefing for state legislators and staff with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency within the U.S. Commerce Department that oversees the implementation of broadband programs included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The agency discussed the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program, which will send $42.5 billion directly to states, as well as other programs to increase digital equity and expand middle mile infrastructure to reduce the cost of connecting unserved areas. View the webinar here.

NCSL Contact: Tres York

NCSL to Congress: Increase Flexibility for Existing COVID Relief Funds

NCSL joined other national organizations representing state and local governments in urging Congress to allow more flexibility in spending American Rescue Plan Act funds on infrastructure and disaster relief. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Susan Frederick

EPA Announces $1 Billion Investment for Cleanup and Restoration of Great Lakes

The $1 billion investment from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is aimed at accelerating the cleanup and restoration of severely degraded sites, known as “Areas of Concern,” by 2030. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

USDOT Announces $450 Million in Port Funding Through IIJA

The Transportation Department announced the availability of $450 million for competitive grants, aimed at improving the flow of goods in and out of U.S. ports. The funding marks the single largest distribution of grants ever made through the Port Infrastructure Development Program. Projects will be chosen based on their impact on trade through the ports, as well as their potential to mitigate environmental concerns and advance equity and opportunity. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

HHS Releases RFI on Access to Care and Coverage for Medicaid and CHIP Enrollees

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is seeking feedback on “topics related to health care access, such as enrolling in and maintaining coverage, accessing health care services and supports, and ensuring adequate provider payment rates to encourage provider availability and quality.” Read more.

NCSL Contact: Molly Ramsdell

Initiative to Examine Federal Mining Law and Regulations

The Biden administration announced it will consider revamping U.S. mining law and regulations to balance a need for extraction of metals vital for clean energy with environmental protection. To start the process, the Department of the Interior will lead a working group on sustainable minerals extraction. Hardrock mining on public lands, which includes gold, silver, copper, uranium, lithium and nearly all critical minerals, is still governed by the General Mining Law of 1872. The administration simultaneously released its “fundamental principles” for mining reform, which called for establishing “strong responsible mining standards” at the regulatory and legislative levels to “create a level playing field,” as well as prioritizing “recycling, reuse and efficient use of critical minerals.” Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Department of Education Announces State Assessment Innovation Grant 

The program will award up to $17.7 million in grants to four to six state educational agencies over four years to help enhance the quality of state assessment systems. Program priorities for this application cycle include developing assessment systems based on multiple measures, promoting competency-based education and improving the reporting of assessment results to parents and educators. Applications are due on April 18, 2022, and awards will be made by September 2022. Read more

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

Education Department Approves $415 Million in Student Borrower Defense Claims

Nearly 16,000 borrowers were granted loan discharges through the borrower defense to repayment process. New claims were approved for borrowers who attended DeVry University, Westwood College, the nursing program at ITT Technical Institute, and the criminal justice programs at Minnesota School of Business/Globe University. Additional claims were granted to Corinthian Colleges and Marinello Schools of Beauty students whose applications were reviewed after earlier announcements of relief. Read more

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

Federal Judge Blocks Executive Order on Social Cost of Carbon

A nationwide injunction issued on Feb. 11 blocked a 2021 executive order establishing a social cost of carbon (SCC) for agencies to use in rulemakings with greenhouse gas emission implications. While appealed by the administration, the judge’s decision barred federal agencies from using the SCC or from considering the foreign impacts of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution, limiting analyses to domestic impacts only.

The Department of the Interior said the action is expected to lead to delays in permitting and leasing for federal oil and gas programs, despite the administration being required to hold quarterly lease sales under the Mineral Leasing Act. In addition, federal agencies must now reconsider dozens of ongoing rulemakings at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Energy, Transportation and the Interior. Several environmental reviews of transit projects are also now in limbo. Notably, the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants program, which pays for rail, bus and streetcar projects, uses the SCC to evaluate those investments—the injunction has “effectively frozen” ongoing transit projects.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

In Every Edition

Read the Feb. 14 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
  • Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Budgets 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
  • Tres York | 202-624-8686 | Commerce and Financial Services