Capitol to Capitol | Jan. 10, 2022

1/10/2022

Treasury Issues Final Rule for State and Local Recovery Funds Program to Support COVID Response

The Treasury released the final rule for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund—the program, as part of the American Rescue Plan, that delivers $350 billion to state, local and tribal governments to support response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The rule, which will take effect on April 1, 2022, builds on the program’s implementation efforts to date. NCSL provided comments to the Treasury in July on the interim final rule regarding flexible use of the funds. Program improvements detailed in the final rule include:

  • Broader set of uses available to respond to the pandemic’s public health and economic impacts on households, small businesses and others, including capital expenditures.
  • Major simplification for recipients through the $10 million revenue loss standard allowance.
  • Greater flexibility in addressing challenges with broadband access, affordability and reliability, as well as the addition of numerous eligible water and sewer infrastructure investments.
  • Broader eligibility for workers who can receive premium pay without additional justification.

Access the final rule overview here. Read the rule in its entirety here.

NCSL Contacts: Erlinda Doherty and Patrick Lawler

White House Requests Each State Appoint an Infrastructure Czar

White House infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu sent a request to all governors to appoint a high-level person to serve as the state’s own infrastructure implementation coordinator and be responsible for transportation, water, broadband and energy investments to coordinate implementation of the various infrastructure programs. Read more.      

NCSL Contacts: Ben Hush and Kristen Hildreth

Department of Education Requests Comment on 2021-22 ESEA Assessment and Accountability Requirements

The draft FAQ document provides preliminary details on how state and local education agencies can use temporary flexibilities to implement ESEA accountability and school improvement requirements using data from the 2021-22 school year. This document is posted for stakeholder review and comment through Jan. 16. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

New Surprise Billing Protections Take Effect

On Jan. 1, new federal protections provided under the No Surprises Act regarding surprise medical bills—unexpected bills from an out-of-network provider, out-of-network facility or out-of-network air ambulance provider—took effect based on final and proposed rules issued in 2021. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Molly Ramsdell

New Medicaid Option Promotes Enhanced Mental Health, Substance Use Crisis Care

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued guidance on the scope of and payments for qualifying community-based mobile crisis intervention services authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Molly Ramsdell

Department of Interior Announces Grant Updates for State Funds for Plugging Orphaned Wells 

The Department of Interior announced that 26 states submitted a notice of intent to apply for a portion of the $4.7 billion in formula funds included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to address orphaned well site plugging, remediation and restoration activities. Previously, the Interior Department released initial guidance outlining activities eligible for grant funding, including plugging wells, remediating and reclaiming lands impacted by oil and gas development and removing infrastructure associated with the wells. It also included information on how states can apply for grant opportunities, and timelines for implementing the programs. Interior will publish the amount of formula grant funding each state will be entitled to apply for, as well as detailed application guidance, in the coming weeks. States are also able to apply at any time for an initial grant of up to $25 million to begin building out their plugging programs and remediating high-priority wells. Further instructions on applying for performance grants, the third type of state grant programs set up in the law, will be released later this year. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Hush and Kristen Hildreth

Department of Education Announces $5M to Improve Parent and Family Engagement 

The Department of Education plans to award five to seven grants through the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program to support organizations that train state educational agencies and school districts in the implementation of family engagement policies and programs. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

Department of Education and Department of Transportation Announce New Initiative to Help Address School Bus Driver Labor Shortage

The Department of Education and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a new initiative to increase the labor supply of school bus drivers by allowing states to waive the portion of the commercial driver’s license skills test that requires applicants to identify the “under the hood” engine components. Drivers receiving a CDL under this temporary waiver are permitted to operate intrastate school buses only; they are not authorized to operate trucks, motorcoaches or any other type of commercial motor vehicle requiring a CDL. The waiver is currently scheduled to expire March 31. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch (transportation) and Austin Reid (education)

Student Loan Pause Extended Through May 1, 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 Jan. 31. Read more

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

In Every Edition

Read the Dec. 20 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