House Committee Approves Two Major Infrastructure Bills
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved two significant infrastructure bills—the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act” and the “Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021.” Both bills are expected to be part of a comprehensive infrastructure package the full House of Representatives is expected to take up later this summer in response to the president’s proposed American Jobs Plan. Significant uncertainty remains about whether enactment of an infrastructure package is possible based on the differing priorities of the president, Senate and House. For a deep dive into both bills, read NCSL’s Info Alert.
Department of Education Releases Maintenance of Equity Guidance
The guidance details how states receiving American Rescue Plan Act funding must fund their highest-poverty districts at or above FY 2019 levels. States must proportionately fund “high-need” districts that collectively enroll 50% of the state’s students. Read more.
EPA Announces Intent to Rewrite Waters of the United States Rule
The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced their intent to revise the previous administration’s rewrite of the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), in accordance with executive order 13990, which directed federal agencies to review all existing regulations, orders and guidance of the previous administration. The Trump administration finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, updating the definition of WOTUS in January 2020, the last step in repealing and replacing the 2015 Clean Water Rule. The rule similarly sought to determine the scope of federal authority to regulate WOTUS and decide when states, local governments and others must seek federal permits to develop an area because it contains WOTUS, clarifying federal authority under the Clean Water Act.
The EPA has indicated that the existing rule is “significantly reducing clean water protections,” and has “resulted in a 25% reduction in determinations of waters that would otherwise be afforded protection,” and has indicated that the new regulatory effort will be guided by the following:
- Protecting water resources and our communities consistent with the Clean Water Act.
- The latest science and the effects of climate change on our waters.
- Emphasizing a rule with a practical implementation approach for state and tribal partners.
Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Providers
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided several 1135 waivers to providers. The agency is providing updated guidance on extended and expanded flexibilities in a variety of areas with a retroactive effective date of March 1, 2020, through the end of the emergency declaration. Flexibilities can be extended to: Medicare telehealth services; Critical Access Hospitals; long-term care hospitals; Medicare Graduate Medical Education Agreement programs; rural health clinics; and Federally Qualified Health Centers, among others. Some of the updated guidance is based on flexibilities included in the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act. These waivers do not require a request to be sent to the firstname.lastname@example.org email address or that a notification be made to any of the CMS’ regional offices. Read more.
Payments for In-Home COVID-19 Vaccinations Announced
The Biden administration announced the availability of additional payments for administering in-home COVID-19 vaccinations to Medicare beneficiaries who have a difficult time leaving their homes or are hard to reach. Medicare will incentivize providers by paying an additional $35 per dose for the vaccine in a beneficiary’s home, raising the total payment to $75 per COVID-19 vaccine dose. These expanded payments could help reach 1.6 million adults 65 or older. Read more.
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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
- 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
- Margaret Wile | 202-624-8171 | Human Service
- Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education