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

Volume 17   Issue 20 - May 21, 2010


MEDICAID MATCH EXTENSION VOTE MOVED TO NEXT WEEK

Tuesday, May 25, 2010, now appears to be the earliest the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 4213, which would give states a $24 billion, six-month extension of the enhanced match for Medicaid and Title IV-E programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). States would also be provided with $2.5 billion for a one-year extension of ARRA’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund for subsidized employment programs, basic assistance and one-time aid. The schedule slipped late this week as House and Senate negotiators worked to get: agreement on a near $60 billion package of offsets; a three-year continuation of Medicare physician reimbursement rates at slightly increased levels for 2010 and 2011; and additional increases for physicians providing primary and preventive care. Members have sensed that H.R. 4213 could likely be one of the last bills leaving the station before November’s election so new provisions, particularly oil-spill liability, pension, agricultural disaster relief and summer youth employment, have been added. Also delaying a floor vote is the lack of a final Congressional Budget Office score and legislative language for some of the agreed-to provisions.

Other provisions affecting states directly or indirectly include an extension to year’s end of the emergency unemployment compensation program and 100 percent funding for the extended unemployment benefits program. Taxpayers would retain the option to deduct their state and local general sales taxes on the federal tax form. The Build America Bonds program would be extended through 2012, with the amount of the direct payment incrementally reduced from 35 percent to 30 percent of the coupon interest. H.R. 4213 would exclude bonds that finance water and sewage facilities from state volume caps. The legislation would exclude private activity bonds from the federal alternative minimum tax for 2011 (ARRA authorized the exclusion for 2009 and 2010). The federal poverty line for 2010 would be held at a level no lower than 2009’s. There are a number of substantive statutory changes on health issues that NCSL staff are reviewing. And, a one-year extension of state court improvement programs for processing foster care and adoption cases is included. Please go to http://rules.house.gov/ for summaries, bill language and cost analyses and to www.ncsl.org  for updates throughout next week on provisions and status of the legislation. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley (tax and spending issues generally), Joy Johnson Wilson, Rachel Morgan (Medicaid, CHIP), Sheri Steisel, Lee Posey (TANF), Diana Hinton Noel, Robert Strange (unemployment insurance), Susan Parnas Frederick, Jennifer Arguinzoni (state courts)


SECOND HEALTH CARE REFORM WEBINAR NEXT WEEK

NCSL hosts its second health care reform webinar on Wed., May 26, 2010, at 3 p.m. EDT. State grant opportunities provided through health care reform legislation will be the topic. Two other webinars are in the works: health exchanges on June 2 and state actions on June 9. To register for any of these webinars, visit http://ecom.ncsl.org/public/registration/met_reg.htm?mtg=WC051710. And for more information on health care reform, please visit http://www.ncsl.org/?tabid=20251. NCSL staff contacts: Allison Colker


FINANCIAL SERVICES REFORM TO CONFERENCE

Months of committee and floor debate on S. 3217, the Senate’s version of financial services regulatory reform, concluded yesterday with a 59-39 favorable vote on the bill. Earlier in the week, the Senate rejected an amendment offered by New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg that would have prohibited the federal government from helping state and local governments that had defaulted on their obligations. The amendment failed 47-50 (60 votes required). The Senate handily approved an amendment from Delaware Senator Tom Carper allowing state attorneys general to sue national banks that violate state consumer protection laws or violate regulations proposed by a new federal consumer protection agency. The Carper amendment passed 80-17. Next stop: conference committee, where the debate on S. 3217 and H.R. 4173 is certain to reignite in during June and probably into July. NCSL staff contacts: Neal Osten, Jeff Hurley


SENATE TAKES UP SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS MEASURE

With financial services reform finished, the Senate calendar is now clear for consideration of H.R. 4899, making supplemental FY 2010 appropriations. The near-$60 billion package includes $34 billion for overseas military operations, $5 billion to fortify the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster assistance fund and $13 billion to compensate veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Expect at least one amendment affecting states. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin wants to add $23 billion to the supplemental spending package for extension of the ARRA state fiscal stabilization fund (education). Its prospects are uncertain. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn will offer a variety of amendments that would reduce currently authorized federal spending in order to pay for some or all of H.R. 4899’s provisions. As adopted unanimously in committee, H.R. 4899 is declared “emergency spending” and is not offset whatsoever. Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled early votes next week on this legislation and on H.R. 4213 (above story) so that the Senate can finish by the Memorial Day recess. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley (appropriations generally), David Shreve, Robert Strange (education)


ON THE HORIZON

On Tuesday, May 25, 2010, Maryland Delegate Sally Young Jameson, chair of NCSL’s Environment Committee, will testify before the U.S. Department of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future on nuclear waste management and other nuclear energy issues.