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

Volume 19   Issue 31 - November 2, 2012 

 

HURRICANE SANDY RESOURCES

NCSL has gathered information on the various federal government resources available to help state legislatures respond to constituents’ needs following the hurricane. Go to http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/federal-emergency-management-resources-.aspx for frequently updated information.


POSSIBLY COMING TO THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

For the past 25 years, NCSL has tracked the members of Congress who previously have served in state legislatures. Over that time, the percentage of former state legislators serving in the U.S. House or Senate has ranged from 46 percent to 52 percent. This year’s elections find 93 either sitting or former state lawmakers seeking congressional seats. For most, it’s their first attempt. Among the 20 seeking a U.S. Senate seat, eight are currently members of the U.S. House of Representatives. After the dust settles on Nov. 7, NCSL will publish its comprehensive chart of former legislators who will serve in the 113th Congress (2013-2014). An analysis of current or former state legislators running for either the House or Senate is available here: http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/state-federal/fsls-running-for-113th-congress-house.aspx (House); http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/state-federal/fsls-running-for-113th-congress-senate.aspx   (Senate). NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley


STATES SUBJECT TO BOND SEQUESTER

NCSL has joined several other groups in asking that federal subsidies on bond payments be exempted from sequestration reductions. States and localities have issued more than $200 billion in infrastructure, school and energy bonds in which the interest rate is currently subsidized by the federal government through direct payments to the issuers. A Sept. 14 report from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clarifies that these payments would be reduced by 7.6 percent in FY 2013 if sequestration is applied. This would increase the costs for states and localities since they would have to replace the federal subsidy due to the contractual obligations they have with the bond holders, essentially creating an unfunded federal mandate. The bonds affected by sequestration include Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, Qualified School Construction Bonds, Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, Clean Renewable Energy Bonds and Build America Bonds. OMB has exclusive authority to grant exceptions to sequestration not explicitly made in the 2011 Budget Control Act. A letter from NCSL and 17 other organizations seeking an OMB exception is available at: http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/budget/babs-sequestration.aspx. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley (bonds generally), Lee Posey (education), Ben Husch (energy)


SPEAKING OF SEQUESTRATION…

Lawmakers and think tanks have continued efforts to stave off the automatic $109 billion in deficit cuts for FY 2013 due to begin in early January. Last week, Washington Rep. Norm Dicks, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, released a 15-page letter detailing the consequences the across-the-board cuts would have on education, public safety and homeland security. Rep. Dicks urged Congress instead to “replace sequestration with a balanced approach to long-term deficit reduction that focuses on economic growth and job creation.” Meanwhile, the Bipartisan Policy Center, known for developing Senator Pete Dominici and Alice Rivlin’s deficit plan, outlined a legislative proposal that would eliminate the “fiscal cliff” and sequestration by reducing the federal debt by $4 trillion over the next 10 years. This would be accomplished through an initial legislative package consisting of tax increases and spending reductions before a larger measure would move through the 113th Congress with a “backstop” if Congress fails to pass a comprehensive plan. The bipartisan Senate Gang of Eight continues its efforts to establish a deficit reduction framework consisting of spending cuts and revenue increases. NCSL will continue to update our federal deficit reduction overview page, available here: http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/budget/federal-deficit-reduction-overview.aspx. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley