Capitol to Capitol | Jan. 15, 2019


USDA Shutdown Update


This is the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. We are now in day 25.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a plan “… to ensure that low-income Americans have access to the nutrition they need…” This includes issuing February benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program early. States will need to act to issue February benefits on or before Jan. 20. The announcement also addresses child nutrition programs, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and other USDA programs. 

NCSL Contact: Haley Nicholson 

Administration Releases Higher Education Regulatory Package

On Jan. 7, the Department of Education released a package of proposed higher education regulatory changes. The package will be considered in the first of a series of negotiated rulemaking sessions that began Jan. 14. Session one material handouts are available.

Live streaming is also available on

NCSL Contact: Joan Wodiska

Trafficking Victims Protection Act Reauthorization

On Jan. 8, President Donald Trump signed into law the NCSL-supported Trafficking Victims Protection Act Reauthorization (HR 2200). In addition to reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, HR 2200 includes provisions that will provide grants to local educational agencies to support programs that educate school staff on how to recognize and respond to signs of labor and sex trafficking. It also tasks the secretary of labor to take steps to ensure goods produced by forced or child labor are not imported into the United States and more. NCSL has provided many resources on the issue of human trafficking.

NCSL Contacts: Susan Frederick and Lucia Bragg

SCOTUS Declines to Take Up Cases Seeking to Undo State Agriculture Laws


The 116th Congress is the highest-educated Congress in modern history.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up challenges to California and Massachusetts laws prohibiting the sale of eggs, pork and veal produced in certain confined spaces and a California law banning the sale of certain types of foie gras. The laws had previously been upheld by federal appeals courts. The confinement laws were also targeted by Congress last year when the House included a provision in its 2018 Farm Bill, known as the King Amendment, that would have pre-empted states on such legislation. NCSL strongly opposed its inclusion and the final 2018 Farm Bill did not include it.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

New Federal Reporting Mandate for State Higher Education Funding

As part of the 2018 federal Farm Bill, states will be required to report on federal and state “allocations made to, and the matching funds received by” 1862 and 1890 land-grant higher education institutions. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities discussed insufficient matches post the Great Recession in this report

NCSL Contact: Joan Wodiska

USDA Receiving Comments for Proposed Changes to SNAP Program

In case you missed it, in late December, the USDA and the Food and Nutrition Service proposed a rule that would change waiver requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The rule specifically looks at SNAP work programs and their current standards for able-bodied adults without dependents. Information on other proposed changes can be found here. Once the proposed rule is published in the federal register there will be a 60-day comment period.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Ann Morse

On This Day, Jan. 15, in…


Just under 46 percent of the 116th Congress are former state legislators.

  • 2003: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Congress had permission to repeatedly extend copyright protection

  • 2001: Wikipedia was launched. 

  • 1953: Harry S. Truman became the first U.S. president to broadcast his farewell address over radio and television as he left office. 

  • 1943: The Pentagon was dedicated and remains the world's largest low-rise office building. The structure covers 34 acres of land and houses 6.4 million square feet of office space within 17 miles of corridors. 

  • 1929: Today is Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. President Ronald Reagan signed legislation in 1986 making King's birthday a national holiday to be celebrated on the third Monday of January.

  • 1892: Triangle magazine in Springfield, Mass., published the rules for a new game. The original rules involved attaching a peach basket to a suspended board. It is now known as basketball

Read the Jan. 7 Capitol to Capitol.

Capitol to Capitol will return on Jan. 28, 2019.

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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
  • Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | 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
  • Joan Wodiska | 202-624-3558 | Education