Capitol to Capitol | March 8, 2021

3/8/2021

Senate-Passed COVID-19 Relief Bill

The bill is now on its way back to the House, with $350 billion in flexible aid for state and local governments. NCSL has written a summary of the Senate-passed bill. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Erlinda Doherty and Jocelyn Salguero

NCSL Letter on FEMA Rule Affecting Public Assistance Program

NCSL and other state and local groups raised concerns that the proposed rulemaking does not properly account for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and offers other recommendations. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Susan Frederick and Lucia Bragg

House Passes Elections Reform

The House passed HR 1, the “For the People Act of 2021,” on March 3. This nearly 800-page bill takes an expansive look at state election access, integrity and security issues, as well as state redistricting, campaign finance issues and D.C. statehood. While well-intended, HR 1 contains many federal preemptions of state law and unfunded federal mandates in its elections and redistricting provisions, such as mandatory online voter registration, same-day or election-day registration, uniform early voting requirements, voter-roll purging standards, a requirement that states use durable voter-verified paper ballots, and a prohibition on limiting curbside and mail-in voting. The redistricting provisions apply to the current redistricting cycle and require states to establish an independent redistricting commission and require courts to draw state plans if states cannot comply. The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration will introduce its own version of HR 1 in the coming weeks and has scheduled a hearing on its bill for March 24. NCSL has asked to provide witness testimony at this hearing.

For a simple section-by-section breakdown of the bill, read here.

Read the full bill text here.

NCSL Contacts: Susan Frederick and Lucia Bragg

Climate Change Package Introduced in the House

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) unveiled the Clean Futures Act. The legislation, which authorized over a half trillion dollars in spending, is a sweeping package aimed at eliminating carbon dioxide and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

The bill mandates that states develop climate plans—requiring them to submit inventories of emissions and sinks to the Environmental Protection Agency and develop plans to hit specific emissions targets. It also includes several environmental justice and energy transition provisions, and creates a national green bank to leverage public funds for investments in new technologies needed to reach emissions goals. The bill would create a new national bottle deposit program and, on the environmental justice front, would establish a grant program to finance lead drinking water service line replacements, which would prioritize disadvantaged communities and include U.S. manufacturing requirements. A section-by-section summary of the act is here.

NCSL Contact: Kristen Hildreth

Navigable Waters Protection Rule in Effect Nationwide

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction blocking the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, placing the rule in effect nationwide. “The Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” which updates the federal definition for a “Waters of the United States,” more commonly referred to as a WOTUS, was finalized in January 2020. The rule redefined the categories of jurisdictional waters that would be considered a WOTUS and therefore fall under federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

The appeals court found that the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado did not prove that the state would have “suffer[ed] irreparable injury absent” an injunction and overturned the June 2020 ruling. In the overturning of the injunction, the court cited the Biden administration’s request to pause litigation but declined to do so. It is very likely the current administration will examine which waters should be protected by the Clean Water Act in coming months and years. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Kristen Hildreth

DOL Releases Guidance on Expanded Eligibility on PUA

The Department of Labor (DOL) released a directive that would expand the number of instances in which workers may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The new COVID-19-related reasons are retroactive because they apply as if they had been included from the beginning of the PUA program. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Michael Quillen

President Directs Federal Pharmacy Program to Prioritize Vaccinating Educators

Teachers and staff in preK-12 schools and child care programs will be able to sign up for an appointment at over 9,000 pharmacies participating in the federal program nationwide. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero (education) Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile (health and human services)

In Every Edition

Read the March 1 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
  • Kristen Hildreth  | 202-624-3597 | 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