Capitol to Capitol | July 22, 2019














As expected, the House passed bills increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over the course of several years and repealing the tax on high-cost health plans—nicknamed the “Cadillac Tax” (more details below). Talks continue between congressional leaders and the Trump administration regarding a federal budget deal that includes relaxing budget caps instituted by the 2011 Budget Control Act and raising the debt ceiling. Also this week, Representative Andrew McLean (D-Maine), co-chair of NCSL’s Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee, will testify on state legislative actions on school bus safety at a Thursday hearing before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. Listen to the hearing here.  

House Passes Minimum Wage Increase to $15

On July 18 the House passed the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, up from the current national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.  Democrats passed the plan in a 231-199 vote with six Democrats voting against the measure, while three Republicans supported it. The bill would gradually hike the U.S. pay floor to $15 by 2025, then index further hikes to median wage growth. It would also phase out the lower minimum wage that is currently paid to tipped workers. While House Democrats view the legislation as a key piece of their economic agenda, the legislation has little to no chance of being taken up by the Senate or signed by the president.

Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have established minimum wages that are higher than the federal floor. 

Read NCSL’s blogs on the State Minimum Wage Table 2019 and State Minimum Wage Developments

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri, Miranda McDonald and Jackson Brainerd


Before Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins could take their “giant leap for mankind” on July 20, 1969, they underwent training at sites in states that looked similar to the geological features of the moon. They frequently took field trips to Arizona, Texas, Nevada and Hawaii.

Marathon Health Markups in the House

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the House passed legislation 419-6 to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s tax on high value health plans, also known as the Cadillac Tax. The tax would have required health plans to bring down their costs and was supposed to be implemented under the Affordable Care Act but has been delayed and is currently scheduled to take effect in 2022.

In addition, the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up several health-related bills including (HR 2328) the Community Health Investment Modernization, and Excellence Act of 2019, that would reauthorize funding for community health centers for four years. The bill also included an amendment to eliminate reductions to disproportionate share hospitals for the next two years. The House Health Subcommittee also marked up legislation on funding for the National Service Corps, Graduate Medical Education and special diabetes programs through 2024. The subcommittee additionally moved on surprise medical billing legislation that would end the practice of balance billing.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

Some States Sue over SALT Deduction Cap

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut sued the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department July 17 over one of the elements of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act (TCJA)—the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions. Recently issued final IRS regulations, which implemented these caps, spurred this legal activity. In the lawsuit, states argue that the IRS rules violate the Administrative Procedure Act, which provides executive agency regulation guidance, as well as the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which requires agencies to analyze how regulations affect small government entities. As the Trump administration has been adamant about states conforming to the provisions of the TCJA, it is unclear how much traction this suit will gain. 

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

Administration Plans on Rx Overhaul Paused

The Trump administration pulled a proposal that would have changed how prescription drug rebates were collected by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Currently, PBMs negotiate for discounted prices on prescription drugs in a rebate and keep some of the rebate for themselves. The administration’s proposal would have banned this practice in Medicare and Medicaid and required PBMs to directly pass those rebates onto patients. The administration determined the changes would increase premiums for patients and was not worth pursuing. This announcement also came on the heels of a federal judge overruling a final rule by the administration that would require pharmaceutical companies to disclose drug prices in commercials.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

Executive Order on Advancing American Kidney Health


Neil Armstrong carried with him to the moon a piece of wood and cloth from the Wright brother’s pioneering plane that took flight 66 years prior to the lunar landing.

The president signed an executive order to modernize kidney-disease treatment. The order will require Medicare to try different payment models that encourage preventative kidney care, home based dialysis and kidney transplants. For transplants, the order is looking for quicker development of artificial kidneys and to speed up the kidney matching donor process. The increased instances of chronic kidney issues and finding ways to make treatment more accessible and affordable has been an ongoing issue over the past several years.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted unanimously to update its regulations on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The FTC will seek public comment and is considering the rule’s application to educational technology, voice-enabled devices, and third-party host platforms following a settlement with YouTube over its handling of children’s videos.

NCSL Contacts: Abbie Gruwell and Tres York

2019 Determination Letters on State Implementation of IDEA

The U.S. Department of Education released state determinations on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for Part B and Part C for fiscal year 2017. 

NCSL Contact: Michelle Exstrom (Denver)

Department of Labor Releases NPRM to Improve H-2A Temporary Agriculture Labor Certification Program

On July 15, the U.S. Department of Labor, under its Employment and Training Administration and Wage Hour Division, released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on proposed changes to improve the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Labor Certification Program. Proposed changes include: application updates related to electronic filing of job orders and applications and the use of digital signatures; strengthening protections for U.S. and foreign workers by enhancing rental housing; and public accommodation standards. The NPRM would also expand H-2A program access by revising the definition of agricultural labor or services.

The full NPRM may be found here.

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Miranda McDonald

FCC Pledges to Expand Rural Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized over $524 million over the next 10 years to expand broadband access to more than 200,000 unserved homes and businesses in rural areas across 23 states. Providers will begin receiving funding this month, with the FCC authorizing additional money in the coming months.

NCSL Contacts: Abbie Gruwell and Tres York

The Reading Room 

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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
  • 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