Capitol to Capitol | March 15, 2021

3/15/2021

House Holds Hearing on Fair Housing

The House Committee on Financial Services met to consider bills aimed at achieving racial equity in housing and financial services. Among the measures considered was a bill to provide down payment assistance to first-generation homebuyers to address multigenerational inequities. Several potential solutions surfaced, including tougher banking and financial regulations, a more targeted approach to underserved and underprivileged communities and improving educational opportunities. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Michael Quillen

House Passes Protecting the Right to Organize Act

Last week, the House passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act by a 225-206 vote. While the vote was mostly along party lines, five Republicans voted in favor and one Democrat voted against the bill. The bill, originally passed by the House last year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, would overturn state “right to work” laws, give union rights to many individual workers currently classified as independent contractors and create penalties for employers who retaliate against union drives. Representative Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), one of the lawmakers who voted against the measure in 2020, voted “yes” this time while pledging to repeal the joint employer provision at some point in the future. In a statement, he said, “[the provision] would threaten to undo the existing franchise model as well as allow secondary boycotts of businesses which have no relation or connection to an ongoing labor dispute.” With the slim Democratic margins in the Senate, it is unlikely the bill will pass the chamber without filibuster reform. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Michael Quillen

NCSL Submits Comments on FEMA’s Notice to Revise Public Assistance Grants Eligibility via the Disaster Declaration Process

This proposed rule would make it harder for states to receive a federal disaster declaration, and access to disaster response and recovery funding through FEMA. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Lucia Bragg

Letter in Support of the Drone Integration and Zoning Act

The legislation affirms state authority regarding low-altitude operation of unmanned aerial systems. Read more.

NCSL Contact:Kristen Hildreth

EPA Seeking Additional Comments on Revised Lead and Copper Rule, Delaying Effective Date

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will delay the effective date for the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions until June 17. The agency plans to propose to further extend the effective date until December 2021 and offer a corresponding extension of the compliance date to Sept. 16, 2024.

In January 2020, the previous administration finalized the first updates to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) since 1991. The updates aim to minimize lead and copper in drinking water by instituting a new trigger level requiring action, as well as the development of publicly available listings of lead service lines (LSLs). Though the new final rule keeps the existing action level of 15 ppb, it proposes a new lead trigger level of 10 ppb. This would require water systems to consult with state regulators to identify actions that would reduce levels in drinking waters, including additional planning, monitoring and treatment requirements.

If a water system is above the existing action level it will be required annually to fully replace a minimum of 3% of the known or potential LSLs in the inventory at the time the action level was exceeded. This is a reduction; previously water systems were required to remove 7% of known or potential LSLs if the action level was exceeded at more than 10% of the taps sampled. For more information on the revisions, read NCSL’s Info Alert here.

NCSL Contact: Kristen Hildreth

Administration Announces $250 million for COVID Vaccination for Underserved Populations

The Biden administration will provide $250 million in funding to encourage COVID-19 safety and vaccination among underserved populations. The Department of  Health and Human Service Office of Minority Health will distribute the funding in health literacy grants to localities partnering with community-based organizations to reach racial and ethnic minority, rural and other vulnerable populations. The resources are part of a new initiative, Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19. The project is expected to fund 30 projects in urban communities and 43 projects in rural communities for two years. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

USDA Extends Free Meals for All Students Through September 2021

Free meals will continue to be available to all students while school is out of session through the Summer Food Service Program and the Seamless Summer Option. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

In Every Edition

Read the March 8 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