Capitol to Capitol | June 21, 2021


U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against NCAA in Education-related Compensation Dispute

Today the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) violated antitrust laws by restricting certain types of education-related compensation that student athletes can receive. The NCAA has been under pressure from state legislatures to reform their compensation structure, with 19 states passing laws to allow student athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, and more than 20 other states are introducing similar legislation. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Abbie Gruwell and Tres York

Senate Commerce Committee Approves Surface Transportation Reauthorization

The Senate Commerce Committee approved its portion of a surface transportation reauthorization that includes $78 billion for rail, freight and safety programs over five years. Specifically, the bill allocates $36 billion for rail projects like Amtrak, $28 billion for multimodal and freight programs, and $13 billion for safety initiatives. This action follows work by the Environment and Public Works Committee, which approved the road and highway portion last month (read NCSL’s Info Alert). The Senate must still develop a transit title as well as determine how to pay for the bill. Current programs are set to expire at the end of September. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Bipartisan Infrastructure Agreement Gains Traction

A bipartisan group of 20 senators announced the outline of an infrastructure agreement—$975 billion over five years with $579 billion in new infrastructure spending. The $579 billion includes over $300 billion for transportation, along with $73 billion for “power” infrastructure, $65 billion for broadband, and $55 billion for water infrastructure. However, the agreement does not include specifics in terms of programmatic funding, making it difficult to estimate the impact on states. Most important, the bill’s 11 pay-fors are likely to need further refinement before the plan can move forward. This includes the agreement’s use of both unused federal COVID relief funds and expanding eligible uses of previously appropriated state and local COVID funds. It remains uncertain how this agreement could move through Congress. One potential outcome may be a bipartisan bill on traditional infrastructure followed by the use of reconciliation to pass a Democrats-only bill on other pieces lacking Republican support. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch, Kristen Hildreth (natural resources and infrastructure) and Abbie Gruwell (broadband)

Treasury Releases Compliance and Reporting Guidance for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds

This 30-plus-page document provides additional details and clarification and applies only to the SLFRF in the American Rescue Plan and not to the Coronavirus Relief Funds under the CARES Act. Read more.

Treasury will host a special 30-minute introductory briefing designed for staff from state and local government associations Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET. You may register for this briefing here.

NCSL Contacts: Erlinda Doherty

Treasury Releases FAQ on Broadband Spending under SLFRF

NCSL staff have teased out the clarifications in the Treasury update. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Abbie Gruwell and Tres York

National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Releases New Broadband Mapping Tool Identifying Gaps in Digital Divide

The NTIA released a new mapping tool that provides more detailed information on high-speed internet service and usage. The new tool uses a broader set of data than previous maps used by the Federal Communications Commission and shows a gap between internet availability and adoption. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Abbie Gruwell and Tres York

FCC Announces the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program Applications 

The Federal Communications Commission announced that the application window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), a $7.17 billion program authorized as part of the ARPA to help schools and libraries provide the tools and services their communities need, will open June 29 and close Aug. 13. The program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Co. with FCC oversight. Read more.

The FCC will host a webinar at 2 p.m. ET Friday on to provide an overview of the Emergency Connectivity Fund, including applicant eligibility, supported equipment and services, reasonable support amounts, and the application and invoicing processes. Registration is not required for this event. The FCC fact sheet on the program is available here

NCSL Contacts: Abbie Gruwell and Tres York

Department of Education Posts State ESSER Implementation Plans

Twenty-eight states have submitted their plans for review and approval by the department. In March, two-thirds of the ARPA K-12 funds were distributed through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) program. States were required to submit their ESSER implementation plans to the department to access the remaining one-third of funds. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

Implementation of Simplified Federal Financial Aid Application Delayed

The Office of Federal Student Aid announced that the FAFSA Simplification Act approved by Congress last year, will be fully implemented by the 2024-25 school year, rather than 2023-24, as the law states. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

Department of Education Extends Title IX Protections to Transgender Students

Officials from the department’s Office for Civil Rights interpret Title IX to include prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

Funding for Rural Health Clinics and Communities

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is providing $424.7 million in funding to over 4,200 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) for COVID-19 testing and mitigation, with an additional $35.3 million for RHCs that meet eligibility requirements coming later this summer. Funding for RHCs will be based on the number of certified clinic sites they operate, with $100,000 per clinic site being provided. Funds can be used to maintain and increase COVID-19 testing for rural residents to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

NCSL Contacts:  Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

Child Tax Credit Expansion Awareness Day

The administration announced that today is Child Tax Credit Awareness Day to raise awareness of enhancements to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) made available under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The ARPA expanded the credit from $2,000 to $3,000 per child, and to $3,600 for children under age 6. For eligible recipients who have filed taxes within the last two years, funds will be paid out in advance from July to September with payments being made directly into a family’s bank accounts. The IRS has launched a tool to help all other families enroll. Payments will start arriving on July 15, and the administration is working with state and local agencies to get the word out to families in their communities. Read more.

To learn more about state-related programming on the child tax credit and expanded tax credit, read the resources below:

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

In Every Edition

Read the June 14 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
  • 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