Capitol to Capitol
An Information Service of NCSL's Standing Committees

Volume 17   Issue 12 - March 19, 2010

This issue is again exclusively devoted to congressional “jobs bill” activity. There are many moving parts and some uncertainty. Please contact NCSL’s Washington, D.C., office or webpage for updates, links and prognoses.


States will have the certainty of highway trust fund reimbursement for the remainder of 2010 and opportunities to expand use of Build America Bonds for school and energy projects with yesterday’s signing of H.R. 2847. “The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act,” also gives small businesses payroll tax exemptions on new hires and Section 179 expensing for capital improvements up to $250,000. Another bill (H.R. 4853) modifying how nearly $1 billion of highway money is distributed among states by the HIRE Act cleared the House March 17. This modification stems from agreements made between Senate leaders and Minnesota Representative James Oberstar regarding funding of the Projects of National and Regional Significance and the National Corridor Infrastructure Development programs. While the story on Jobs Bill #1 is nearly complete, a future Senate vote is needed to close the book on this issue. (NCSL staff contacts: Molly Ramsdell, Jeff Hurley)


It is still very much alive inside H.R. 4213, Jobs Bill #2. This legislation remains on the House desk after passing the Senate nine days ago on a 62-36 vote. However, patience on the part of state legislators and staff will be needed since the House of Representatives intends, at this time, to amend the bill. That became very apparent this week when the House passed H.R. 4851, granting authority for extended unemployment benefits, COBRA premium subsidies and retention of current Medicare provider reimbursement rates until April 30, 2010. All three of these issues are proposed to be extended for the remainder of 2010 in Jobs Bill #2. However, the insertion of a shorter-term extension via H.R. 4851 is a clear sign that the NCSL supported six-month extension of the enhanced Medicaid match for Jan. 1, 2011, through June 30, 2011, and Jobs Bill #2 will not see final action until late April, and perhaps not until May. (NCSL staff contacts: Molly Ramsdell, Jeff Hurley [generally], Joy Johnson Wilson, Rachel Morgan [Medicaid])


As reported in the last issue of Capitol to Capitol, California Representative George Miller recently introduced a $100 billion state and local government job retention and job training bill, H.R. 4812. States would qualify for $24 billion in funding for education, law enforcement and homeland security-related jobs. The legislation now has 60 sponsors, but odds that it will ever get to the president’s desk, let alone through the Senate, remain remote. (NCSL staff contacts: Molly Ramsdell, Jeff Hurley)


On March 17, the House Ways and Means gave party-line vote approval to H.R. 4849 that would extend the Build America Bonds (BAB) program for three years (not related to the changes cited in the first article above). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) allowed state and local governments to issue BABs as a taxable bond and receive a direct payment from the federal government equal to 35 percent of the total interest payable to bond investors. That subsidy percentage would incrementally drop to 30 percent, and the BAB program would continue through April 1, 2012. H.R. 4849 would also exclude bonds that finance water and sewer projects from state private activity bond caps. Depending on the outcome of health care reform legislation, this bill could get House floor time next week. (NCSL staff contacts: Molly Ramsdell, Jeff Hurley)


Work on the FY 2011 budget resolution is delayed until after the congressional Easter/Passover recess. NCSL’s Spring Forum starts a mere 19 days from now in the nation’s capital and runs from April 8 through April 10, 2010.