Capitol to Capitol | March 11, 2019

President Releases FY 2020 Budget  

President Donald Trump’s $4.7 trillion fiscal year 2020 budget request reaffirms his commitment to build a border wall with an $8.6 billion request for border security, and provides for a 5 percent increase in defense spending from fiscal year 2019 levels to $750 billion. Released a month later than is traditional due to the government shutdown, the budget would subject most non-defense programs to an across-the-board 5 percent cut below the 2019 cap level. The budget also calls for reducing Medicare spending by $850 billion through reforms in drug costs and major reform of the Medicaid program, which Trump expects will save $241 billion over 10 years. A reminder: The president’s budget will likely not be adopted by the Democratic-controlled House, but does reflect the administration’s priorities. NCSL will further analyze the budget and report on its potential state impact. Keep an eye on the NCSL Blog for more updates later this week. 

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

House and Senate Working Towards FY 2020 Spending Caps Agreement

Although Trump just released his fiscal year 2020 budget, House and Senate lawmakers are already working toward agreed-upon spending allocations, hoping to move appropriations quickly to avoid a repeat of the fiscal year 2019 process that resulted in a protracted partial government shutdown. These negotiations also lay the foundation for potential changes to the spending caps created by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which would again be in effect in fiscal year 2020 if no changes are made to the 2011 law. Without change, non-defense discretionary spending could be facing somewhere in the range of a 9.2 percent reduction from current levels.

With Democrats now the majority party in the House, its leadership wants to achieve more “parity” in spending allocations and statutory cap negotiations. House leaders will push for more balance on spending limits between defense and non-defense programs.  

For more information on the BCA, read the NCSL Blog.

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

For the People Act Passes the House

The House of Representatives passed (234-193) HR 1, the “For the People Act,” on March 8. This 571-page bill, which the Senate has no plans to take up, is a comprehensive look at election access, integrity and security, as well as campaign finance, redistricting and ethics issues. While NCSL is still examining the portions of the bill that discuss election administration, HR 1 contains several provisions NCSL views as pre-emptions of state authority, namely mandatory online voter registration, mandatory same-day, or Election Day, registration, uniform requirements for early voting and mandatory pre-registration of teens. The bill also contains provisions regarding election security. HR 1 authorizes grants for election security, poll-worker training and elections infrastructure; the bill did not include an appropriation for these grants. HR 1 also contains campaign finance reform disclosure and reporting provisions

NCSL Contacts: Susan Parnas Frederick, Lucia Bragg (federal election reform) and Wendy Underhill (state election laws and redistricting)

Data Privacy

Last week, NCSL sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation raising concerns about possible federal pre-emption of state data privacy laws.

NCSL Contact: Abbie Gruwell

Motor Vehicle Fuel Economy Continues to Increase

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that the motor vehicle fuel economy hit a new record in 2017 and will likely further increase in 2018, although the increases are below the targets set by the agency and the Department of Transportation in 2012. Last year, the EPA proposed revising both the emission and fuel economy targets down substantially with a final rule expected later this spring. All else being equal, more fuel-efficient vehicles require less gasoline leading to lower gasoline tax revenues.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

 Trump Signs Executive Order to Address Veteran Suicide

President Donald Trump signed, on March 5, an executive order(EO) "President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide"--the PREVENTS initiative. The EO establishes a task force that includes secretaries of the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security. The roadmap will include a proposal for “equipping State and local governments with the resources and tools they need to empower veteran communities and provide needed services.” On average, 20 service members and veterans die by suicide each day. Of those, nearly 70 percent have never engaged with the Department of Veterans Affairs for their health care. In January 2018, Trump signed the executive order Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life, which led to the convening of state and local suicide prevention initiatives such as the Governor’s Challenge and Mayor’s Challenge.

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Miranda McDonald (Labor and Economic Development), Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile (Health and Human Services)

House Committee on Education and Labor Votes to Advance Bill to Increase Federal Minimum Wage

Last week, the House Committee on Education and Labor held a markup and passed HR 582, the Raise the Wage Act, on a partisan vote. HR.582, sponsored by Representative Bobby Scott (D-Va.), who also serves as chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, would increase the federal minimum wage to $15/hour by the year 2024. It will advance to the House floor for a vote. The Senate version of the bill, S.150, the Raise the Wage Act, was proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Jan. 16, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. It is not expected to advance out of committee. Watch a recording of the house markup here.

For more information on state activity on minimum wage, see NCSL’s database on State Minimum Wages, as well as an NCSL Blog detailing state actions on minimum wage.  

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Miranda McDonald

CMS Requests More Feedback on Selling Health Insurance Across State Lines

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have issued an additional request for information (RFI) on allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines. This RFI was written in connection with the 2017-issued Executive Order 13813, which directs the administration to “facilitate the purchase of health insurance across state lines.” The RFI is open for public comment through May 6, 2019.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

SLLC Supreme Court Midterm Webinar

This term’s docket is now set. Don’t miss the State and Local Legal Center’s Supreme Court Midterm Webinar to learn more.

Date: March 20, 2019

Time: 1–2 p.m. EDT

Register here.

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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
  • Joan Wodiska | 202-624-3558 | Education