An Information Service of NCSL's Standing Committees
Volume 19 Issue 24- July 23, 2012
MOVEMENT IN MARKETPLACE
An amendment to the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act (S. 2237), introduced by Wyoming Senator Michael Enzi and Illinois Senator Richard Durbin on July 10, would have given states the authority to collect sales and use taxes from online sales. Although the amendment, which mirrored the language in the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 1832), was withdrawn after a floor colloquy, it gained five new Senate co-sponsors in the process. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee announced it will hold a hearing Tuesday, July 24, on the Marketplace Equity Act (H.R. 3179). Although slightly different than the Senate version, H.R. 3179 would also grant states the authority to collect remote sales taxes, which would result in $23 billion in additional revenue for state budgets without accruing any cost to the federal government. Action: Contact your congressional delegation and urge them to support S. 1832 and H.R. 3179. NCSL staff contacts: Neal Osten, Max Behlke
UMRA VOTE IMMINENT
NCSL-endorsed legislation (H.R. 373) to strengthen the analysis and oversight of intergovernmental mandates will be brought to the House floor Wednesday as part of larger regulatory reform package titled the Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act (H.R. 4078). H.R. 373 would amend the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) by expanding its scope to include a cost estimate of new conditions of grant aid and reasonably foreseeable indirect costs, and a regulatory “look-back” analysis of existing federal mandates. H.R. 373 also contains several regulatory alterations that would have an impact on the private sector. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley
CLARITY REMAINS “OUT TO LUNCH.”
States remain “in the dark” regarding FY 2013 federal appropriations even though the House last week passed H.R. 5872, legislation that requires the administration to detail the effect sequestration will have on domestic and defense spending. The Senate is likely to pass similar legislation that requires even more detailed analyses of the potential impacts. These across-the-board program cuts are scheduled to take effect Jan. 2, 2013. An NCSL summary of what these reports seek is available at http://www.ncsl.org/documents/statefed/Sequestration_chartJuly2012.pdf . Congressional hearings continued on defense sequestration, with a parade of organizations denouncing the devastation sequestration would wreak. U.S. Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina headed up a letter -writing effort seeking passage of a continuing resolution for all FY 2013 appropriations. Illinois Senator Richard Durbin also noted that there is bipartisan support for Congress to complete a short-term spending agreement before Congress leaves for recess in August. This would remove FY 2013 funding deliberations from the “fiscal cliff” and instead continue the debate after the start of the calendar year. Don't hold your breath on this making significant headway.
A bi-partisan effort to mobilize civic and business leaders in support of a comprehensive federal deficit reduction and long-term debt management deal was announced on July 17, by former U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (New Hampshire) and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Inspiring this effort are Erskine Bowles and former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson (Wyoming), the co-chairs of the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Serious talk about deficit reduction before the election, or even before the end of the year, however, remains unlikely. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley
TANF WAIVERS AVAILABLE
States may now seek waivers from certain requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant program on a non-competitive basis. Applications must follow criteria included in a July 12 Department of Health and Human Services Information Memorandum. The waivers are intended for states that have found federal requirements to be barriers to implementing the program, and therefore need greater flexibility to test new approaches. All waiver applications will require a strong evaluation component, progress benchmarks and job entry-retention-advancement components and must be carried out with current TANF block grant allotments. The Information Memorandum is available at: http://www.acf.HHS.gov/programs/ofa/policy/im-ofa/2012/im201203/im201203.html. NCSL contacts: Sheri Steisel, Emily Wengrovius
In a statement to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, NCSL and several other state and local groups stressed that any new requirements for state governments on grants, contracts and loans must be accompanied by sufficient funding to carry out reporting and oversight requirements. The hearing, titled “Show Me the Money: Improving the Transparency of Federal Funding,” largely focused on the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2011 (DATA Act). The statement emphasizes the commitment of state and local government officials to providing transparency and accountability in monitoring government while also voicing concerns on the possible imposition of an unfunded federal mandate and the lack of a phased-in reporting system. Office of Management and Budget Controller Danny Werfel testified against the DATA Act on the grounds that it would hinder transparency measures by the administration. The House overwhelmingly passed the DATA Act (H.R. 2146) in April. Virginia Senator Mark Warner introduced similar legislation, S. 1222, in the spring and is currently working with NCSL and others to restructure and improve upon his original bill and H.R. 2146. The full statement can be viewed at: http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/budget/data-act-statement.aspx. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley
HUNGER PARTNERSHIP WEBINAR THIS WEEK
How to ensure integrity in nutrition assistance programs is the topic of an NCSL webinar on Tuesday, July 24 for state legislators and legislative staff. A panel of state and federal government and business representatives will lead an exploration of cost-effective state efforts to combat errors, theft and fraud. Register now at http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/human-services/nutrition-assistance-programs-webinar.aspx. NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Ann Morse, Emily Wengrovius, Angelynn Hermes
TASTE OF CHICAGO
NCSL’s Legislative Summit is only two weeks away. Find out all NCSL’s premier meeting has to offer at: http://www.ncsl.org/meetings/legislativesummit12/overview/general.aspx .
All proposed policy directives and resolutions to be considered by NCSL standing committees at the Summit are now available online at: http://www.ncsl.org/state-federal-committees.aspx?tabs=854,15,1100. If adopted by their respective standing committee, these policies will be voted on at NCSL’s General Business Meeting on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 10:30 a.m.