Capitol to Capitol | July 25, 2022

7/22/2022

NCSL’s 2022 Legislative Summit in Denver

The nation’s largest bipartisan gathering of state legislators and staff is set to begin on Aug. 1 in Denver. Colleagues old and new and from capitals across the country will gather to engage in unique conversations about mutual policy priorities and the legislative landscape. Legislators will have the opportunity to vote on policy directives and resolutions, which direct NCSL’s work in Washington, D.C. You can find copies of those here.

NCSL will also livestream seven sessions from the Summit. Watch the livestreams on NCSL’s website or Facebook page, courtesy of the Ohio Channel.

For all things Summit, visit the website here.

NCSL Hosts Briefing on State, Federal Housing Policy

NCSL hosted a July 20 congressional briefing on state and federal housing policies. The update also covered federal COVID-relief spending practices, the LIFELINE Act and housing policy collaboration among several states. Watch here

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Deanna Ross

Senate Introduces Cannabis Legalization Bill

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on July 21 introduced the first draft of his long-awaited cannabis legalization bill, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. The bill is co-sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). The bill would remove cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, federally legalizing cannabis and empowering states to implement their own marijuana policies. In addition, the bill aims to address lasting the effects of the war on drugs, including its disproportionate impact on communities of color, by mandating the expungement of all nonviolent federal marijuana convictions within one year of the bill’s passage and by creating grants for nonprofit and small-business loans for disadvantaged individuals interested in starting a cannabis business. The bill also includes funds for states and localities to use for cannabis-licensing programs that minimize barriers for applicants affected by the war on drugs. The 167-page bill contains many more provisions, including federal tax formulas, federally funded cannabis research, and age requirements for buying and selling cannabis. Schumer, Booker and Wyden are seeking public comments, which will be accepted until Sept. 1, 2022.

NCSL supports the federal legalization of cannabis. For more information on NCSL’s stance, check out our cannabis and banking policy and our cannabis and federalism policy. The cannabis and federalism policy will be revisited by the Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety Committee at this year’s Legislative Summit.

NCSL Contacts: Susan Frederick and Nicole Ezeh

Biden Administration Releases Safer America Plan

The $37 billion Safer America Plan aims to prevent crime and support law enforcement across the country. The money will be used specifically to fund the hiring and training of 100,000 additional police officers; support small law enforcement agencies; invest in civilian crisis responders for mental health and substance abuse calls; expand education, housing and other community services that prevent crime; and fund reentry services for formerly incarcerated individuals. The plan also increases the budget for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and creates a $15 billion grant program called Accelerating Justice System Reform that states can use for crime prevention and nonviolent crisis response programs. To learn about state policing legislation, check out NCSL’s 50-state law enforcement bill tracking database.

NCSL Contacts: Susan Frederick and Nicole Ezeh

HHS Extends Public Health Emergency

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on July 15 extended the COVID-19 public health emergency for an additional 90 days. The emergency declaration, which began in January 2020, is now set to expire on Oct. 13, 2022. The declaration has provided states with important flexibilities to help them meet their residents’ need for health care during the pandemic. Funding and waivers enhanced access to COVID vaccines and treatment, and to Medicaid, Medicare, the Children's Health Insurance Program and private insurance. Becerra has indicated that states will be given 60 days’ notice before the department ends the declaration. Additionally, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 permits the extension of many state-level waivers and flexibilities for 151 days after the end of the emergency. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Lauren Kallins

Department of Education Releases Discipline Guidance for Students With Disabilities

The guidance describes how public elementary and secondary schools can respond to behavior that is based on a student’s disability. The guidance covers the civil rights of students with disabilities and the responsibilities of schools when administering student discipline. Read more.

NCSL Contacts:  Austin Reid

Biden Appoints State Legislator to Lead Electric Grid Office

President Joe Biden appointed Massachusetts Rep. Maria Robinson as director of the Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office. Elected in 2018, she was the first Korean American to win a seat in the Massachusetts Legislature. While in office, Robinson led the bicameral Clean Energy Caucus and served on the board of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. Before serving in the Legislature, she led the Wholesale Markets Program at Advanced Energy Economy, a trade association for the advanced energy industry.

NCSL Contact: Ben Husch

In Every Edition

Read the July 18 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
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
  • Nicole Ezeh | 202-624-3568 | 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
  • Deanna Ross | 202-624-8680 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education
  • Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce
  • Brian Wanko | 202-624-5400 | Budget and Revenue
  • Lauren Kallins | 202-624-8170 | Health and Human Services