Capitol to Capitol | March 14, 2022

3/14/2022

Agreement Reached on Federal Funding for Remainder of Fiscal Year

The $1.5 trillion spending bill funds the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2022, which ends Sept. 30. The legislation increases nondefense spending by 6.7% and defense spending by 5.6%, and it includes $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine. A last-minute change removed a provision that would have rescinded some of the funding states were to receive in their second tranche of Coronavirus State and Local Relief Fund payments to use as a “pay-for” for some of the $15.6 billion in emergency funding for the pandemic.

The bill’s passage allows for the full implementation of the historic investments in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. With the federal government operating under a continuing resolution, many of the infrastructure bill’s funding increases and new programs could not move forward. The omnibus also contains the return of earmarks, many but not all of which are transportation focused. A list of all transportation earmarks can be found here, on page 104. A full list of water infrastructure earmarks can be found here, on page 84.

Highlights include:

  • $1 billion increase in Title I education program funds.
  • Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
  • $400 increase in the maximum Pell Grant award of $6,895 for 2022-23. 
  • An increase in the federal medical assistance percentage for certain territories until Dec. 13. Puerto Rico will receive an additional $200 million if Health and Human Services certifies its state Medicaid plan meets certain requirements. 
  • $1 billion for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.
  • A requirement that companies in critical sectors such as energy, finance and health alert the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within 72 hours when they are hacked. These businesses must also alert the agency within 24 hours of paying a ransom as part of a ransomware attack.
  • $235 million for registered apprenticeships, an increase of $50 million.
  • $101.6 million for the Suicide Lifeline, an increase of $77.6 million above the FY 2021 enacted level to support the implementation of the Lifeline’s new 988 number.
  • An increase of $558 million for early childhood education programs.
  • A more than $550 million investment in the expansion of broadband service, including an additional $450 million for the ReConnect program. This is in addition to the $2 billion provided in the infrastructure bill.   

NCSL will publish a full overview later this week. In the meantime, a chart showing the major discretionary and mandatory program funding levels prepared by Federal Funds Information for States can be found here.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth (infrastructure and transportation) and Erlinda Doherty and Patrick Lawler (budgets)

DOT to Review Process for Responding to State Daylight Saving Time Actions

The Department of Transportation inspector general announced it is initiating an audit of the department to assess its processes for evaluating and responding to requests from states and localities for time zone changes and daylight saving time exemptions. In the last four years, 18 states have enacted legislation or passed resolutions to provide for year-round DST, if Congress were to allow such a change and, in some cases, if surrounding states enact the same legislation. Because federal law does not currently allow full-time DST, Congress would have to act before states could adopt changes. The announcement comes only days after a hearing in which the House Energy and Commerce Committee reviewed the potential impacts of moving to a single time system that would not involve changing between standard and daylight time. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch (federal) Jim Reed (state)

DOT Takes Significant Step on Autonomous Vehicles

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, a branch of the Department of Transportation, published a final rule that updates several motor vehicle safety standards aiming to reduce regulatory barriers for the eventual deployment of autonomous vehicles. Specifically, the rule modernizes terms specific to protecting vehicle occupants so that new interior designs maintain the required level of safety but no longer require certain features necessary only for human operators. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Doug Shinkle

EPA Issues Memo for Implementation of $43 Billion in Water Infrastructure Funding

The EPA issued a memo for the implementation of $43 billion in water infrastructure funding going to state, local and tribal partners through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The memo provides guidelines on how the agency will award and administer supplemental state revolving fund grants through the law. It also describes how awards will be administered for the general drinking water and clean water revolving fund programs and the funding to be dedicated to removing lead service lines and addressing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and other emerging contaminants.

The memo follows a letter from EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan to governors in December 2021 encouraging states and tribes to maximize the impact of water funding from the law to reach the administration’s Justice40 initiative, which aims to ensure that federal agencies deliver at least 40% of benefits from certain investments to disadvantaged communities. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Kristen Hildreth

EPA Restores California’s Authority to Implement GHG Emission Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency reinstated California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to implement its own greenhouse gas emission standards. The action, which follows the agency’s reconsideration of 2019’s Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule, is in accordance with President Joe Biden’s executive order 13990.

California received authority in 2013 to impose more stringent greenhouse gas emission standards than federal ones. In addition, the EPA also announced plans to withdraw the previous administration’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act, which would have prohibited other states from adopting California’s emission standards. As of December 2021, 17 states have adopted California’s low-emission vehicle criteria and greenhouse gas emission regulations, making roughly 40% of the total new light-duty vehicle sales in the U.S. For more information, read the EPA’s regulatory update here.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

President Biden Issues Executive Order on Cryptocurrency

President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing a whole-of-government approach to the $3 trillion cryptocurrency market, asking federal agencies to examine the risks and benefits on cryptocurrency and consider the best way to structure a regulatory environment for digital assets. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Tres York and Erlinda Doherty
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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 policy 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 | Budget and Revenue
  • Patrick Lawler | 202-624-8697 | Budget and Revenue
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | 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
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education
  • Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Commerce and Financial Services
  • Tres York | 202-624-8686 | Commerce and Financial Services