Capitol to Capitol | June 3, 2021

6/3/2021

Last Friday, President Joe Biden released a $6 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2022. NCSL will provide its summary of what it means for states in the June 7 edition of Capitol to Capitol.

Senate Committee Approves Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee unanimously approved a five-year bipartisan reauthorization of the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act—the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 (STRA-21). Rail, safety and transit funding and financing are under the jurisdiction of the Senate Commerce, Banking and Finance Committees, and those provisions will be added later, prior to consideration by the full Senate. In the House, the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee is expected to release its surface transportation reauthorization legislation mid-to-late June as the committee reviews earmark requests.

The bill represents a significant early victory for states. Not only would STRA-21 provide $303.5 billion over five years, a 34% increase from the 2015 FAST Act and a 6% increase from the recent one-year extension, but 90% of total highway funding from the Highway Trust Fund is provided to states via the existing predictable formula used in previous surface transportation bills. For an overview of some of the major areas in the bill affecting states, read NCSL’s Info Alert here.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Department of Education Releases Guidance on ESSER and GEER Funds

The FAQ document provides clarifications on how states and districts can award and spend Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funds, including: state legislatures cannot place restrictions on local funds, funds cannot shore up rainy day accounts, and funds can be used on school construction. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

EPA Announces Intent to Restore State Authority under CWA Section 401

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intent to reconsider and revise the 2020 Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Certification Rule, restoring state authority to protect waters in accordance with the president’s executive order 13990. EPA will begin a stakeholder engagement process this summer, and during that engagement, the 2020 rule will remain in place.

Historically, Section 401 has provided states and tribes authority to review and approve, condition or deny any federal permits or licenses that may be required if the project seeking a permit would result in a discharge of pollutants to Waters of United States. However, the 2020 Certification Rule includes reductions in state timelines for review and certification, restrictions on the scope of certification reviews and conditions, and modifications of other related requirements and procedures. For a complete review of the final rule, read NCSL’s Info Alert here.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Interim Final Rule on Long-Term Care

The rule requires long-term care facilities and residential facilities serving patients with intellectual disabilities to provide COVID-19 vaccines to facility residents and staff, along with education on the benefits and potential side effects associated with the vaccine. Facilities would also be required to report weekly on COVID-19 vaccination status data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Healthcare Safety Network. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

HHS Funding Announcements

Below are several recent funding announcements from the Department of Health and Human Services.

$4.8 billion Dedicated to Cover COVID-19 Testing for the Uninsured

Funding will support the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program, which reimburses health care providers that are testing uninsured individuals for COVID-19. With 29 million uninsured individuals living in the U.S., the administration is working to provide programs like these as well as others, including an extended Special Enrollment Period  to get more individuals insured. To date, the HRSA program has issued over $2.5 billion toward reimbursing providers that are delivering COVID-19 treatment. Read more.

$3 billion for Mental Health and Substance Use Programs Distributed

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will be distributing $3 billion for mental health and substance use block grant programs. The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG) Programs will each provide $1.5 billion to states, territories and tribes. This follows $2.5 billion in supplemental funds that were distributed in March. Read more on the MHBG program here and the SABG program here.

$450 million for Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

The Administration of Children and Families (ACF) announced the availability of an additional $350 million for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Grants program and $100 million for Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act state grants. These funds, provided through the American Rescue Plan, will go to state and community efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Read more.

$14.2 million to Expand Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) Announced

The $14.2 million will expand PMHCA projects into additional states and other geographic areas nationwide, including tribal areas. With the funding provided through the American Rescue Plan, new state and regional networks of pediatric mental health care teams will be able to provide teleconsultations, training, technical assistance and care coordination for pediatric primacy care providers. There are 21 PMCHA projects currently in the U.S.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

In Every Edition

Read the May 17 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 Services
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education