Capitol to Capitol | May 4, 2020

5/4/2020

The Senate returns to Washington, D.C., this week. House members are expected to return next week. Negotiations over stimulus 4.0 (CARES Act 2.0) continue. The Treasury Department is expected to release expanded FAQs this week on the Coronavirus Relief Fund. 

Lawmakers Call for Paid Sick Leave Tax Credits for Public Employers

Representatives Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), TJ Cox, (D-Calif.), Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) introduced legislation that would make state and local governments eligible for payroll tax credits for emergency paid sick and family leave, as required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA requires employers to provide paid sick leave and family leave but excluded public employers from being able to claim the tax credit. The bill currently has 108 co-sponsors in the House. NCSL and  other organizations representing state and local officials have been pushing for this fix to FFCRA.

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Michael Quillen

President Invokes Defense Production Act to Help Stabilize Meat Food Supply

President Donald Trump issued an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) with specific respect to food supply chain resources, including meat and poultry, during the coronavirus national emergency. The order delegated powers granted by the DPA to the Secretary of Agriculture to determine the proper nationwide priorities and allocation of all the materials, services and facilities necessary to ensure the continued supply of meat and poultry. These priorities should remain consistent with the guidance for operating meat and poultry processing facilities jointly issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

NCSL Contacts:  Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

President Issues Executive Order on Electrical Grid Safety

President Trump signed an executive order aimed at securing the United States electrical grid by prohibiting U.S. electric utilities from installing grid devices from foreign manufacturers that could threaten national security. The order requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a “pre-qualified” vendor program that will allow utilities to identify friendly device makers from around the globe. The agency will also develop a program to identify any prohibited power devices already in use and work with utilities to “identify, isolate, monitor, and replace this equipment as appropriate.” The DOE will also create a task force to develop new infrastructure procurement policies for utilities that are “fully integrated” with federal cybersecurity policies.

NCSL Contacts:  Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

CMS Announces Commission to Address COVID-19 Response in Nursing Homes

Noting the start of Older Americans Month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new independent commission that will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the nursing home response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission will convene in late May and develop recommendations based on three tasks:

  • Ensuring the health of nursing home residents is a top priority—protecting residents from COVID-19 and improving the responsiveness of care delivery to maximize their quality of life.
  • Strengthening efforts to enable rapid and effective identification and mitigation of COVID-19 transmission (as well as other infectious disease) in nursing homes.
  • Enhancing strategies to improve compliance with infection control policies in response to COVID-19.

The commission will provide independent recommendations to review and report to CMS to build on immediate and future responses to COVID-19 in nursing homes. This work builds on the agency’s five-part plan released in April 2019 to ensure safety and quality in America’s nursing homes.

NCSL Contacts:  Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

Education Department Does Not Recommend IDEA Waivers, Asks Congress to Consider Other Flexibilities

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced she is not recommending that Congress pass any additional waiver authority concerning the Free Appropriate Public Education and Least Restrictive Environment requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The department is requesting that Congress consider additional flexibilities on administrative requirements under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and IDEA.

NCSL Contacts:  Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

In Every Edition

COVID-19 Funding Updates: Access COVID-19 Daily Announcements from Federal Agencies

NCSL Recent Letters to the Hill: Read NCSL’s most recent correspondence to members of Congress and the administration.

The Reading Room: Lots of interesting reports issued last week, the majority related to COVID-19.

Read the April 27 Capitol to Capitol.

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
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education