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

Volume 18   Issue 36 - October 14, 2011

 

STATES MOVE QUICKLY ON EDUCATION WAIVERS

Thirty-seven states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have submitted plans to apply for No Child Left Behind Act waivers announced three weeks ago by President Obama. The waivers would give states flexibility regarding the 100 percent proficiency in reading and math, school improvement and accountability requirements along with the use of federal education funds. In exchange, states would have to meet certain requirements regarding quality of instruction and achievement gaps.  States can apply for waivers until Nov. 12 or in a second round of the process in mid-February.  NCSL staff contacts: Lee Posey, Michael Reed


THE APPROPRIATIONS DANCE CONTINUES

There are five weeks left until the current continuing resolution keeping state-federal programs funded for FY 2012 expires (Nov.18). This week produced a bipartisan agreement in the Senate to merge three appropriations bills into a “mini-bus” for pertinent floor amendments and votes next week. H.R. 2112 will be the vehicle for a FY 2012 agriculture, transportation and commerce/justice spending measure. Speaker John Boehner ruled out any prospects for an “omnibus” FY 2012 appropriations approach. Leaders and appropriators also discussed how much funding authority should be allocated to each of the 12 appropriation subcommittee jurisdictions. Agreement on allocations is essential for conference negotiations to commence. The House is in recess next week; the Senate is in recess the following week. Stay tuned, progress is sluggish. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley


“JOBS” CONSENSUS REMAINS ELUSIVE

The Senate fell nine votes shy of the 60 needed to proceed to S. 1660, legislation that mirrors the president’s American Jobs Act proposal. Elements of the president’s “jobs” recommendations now likely become part of ongoing discussions of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Senate Republicans unveiled their “Jobs Through Growth Act,” a 28-point plan that includes a federal balanced budget amendment, numerous regulatory reforms and moratoria, individual and corporate tax reform, repeal of health care and financial institution reform laws, enhanced domestic energy production and a fast-track free-trade agreement renewal process. The plan would preempt state authority regarding medical malpractice law. Disagreements on a comprehensive “jobs” agenda persist, with no immediate resolution in sight. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley


DESPITE ELUSIVE “JOBS” CONSENSUS, TRADE PACTS EASILY PASS

This week the House and Senate passed free-trade agreements with Colombia (H.R. 3078), Panama (H.R. 3079) and South Korea (H.R. 3080) by comfortable margins. Lopsided sign-off on H.R. 2832, legislation renewing retraining programs for American workers harmed by trade pacts, also occurred. Although it took nearly five years for these trade agreements to ripen for passage, signing of the all four pieces of legislation is anticipated to occur expeditiously. NCSL staff contact: Michael Reed


NCSL-BACKED TAX REPEALER CLEARS COMMITTEE

Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee passed H.R. 674, NCSL-backed bipartisan legislation that would repeal a 2005 law imposing an unfunded federal mandate on state and local governments. The legislation would eliminate federal requirements for states to withhold 3 percent of payments to vendors and contractors, forcing adjustments to payment and procurements systems, and potentially increasing purchase costs for various goods and services. H.R. 674 will ultimately require an offset and sponsors continue to review options. This repealing legislation is also contained in the 28 points of the Senate Republican “jobs” plan (see above article). NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley


ON THE HORIZON

Today marks the deadline for congressional standing committees to submit their recommendations to the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. First reports arrived yesterday. The joint committee is left with only 40 days to complete its work on a $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion deficit reduction package. Expect a summary of standing committee recommendations next week.