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

Volume 20   Issue 16 - May 10, 2013


NCSL and states across the nation secured a key victory as the U.S. Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 743) by a vote of 69-27. This legislation would give states that meet the requirements of the act the authority to require remote sellers to collect those states’ sales and use taxes. This legislation contains a $1 million per calendar year small business exemption. It is estimated that states lost $23 billion in 2012 as a direct result of not being able to collect sales and use tax revenue on remote sales. With the administration already signaling its support, the last hurdle remaining is passage in the U.S. House of Representatives. Initial reports indicate the bill will go through regular order, starting with the Judiciary Committee. NCSL thanks state legislators who contacted their U.S. senators to voice support for the Marketplace Fairness Act. Our work is not done, however. We ask that you urge your delegation in the House of Representatives to support S. 743. NCSL staff contacts: Neal Osten, Max Behlke


Thursday marked the first opportunity for U.S. senators to offer amendments on immigration reform. With a majority of the “Gang of Eight” senators on the Judiciary Committee, efforts to undermine the bipartisan support for the bill largely faltered (301 amendments have already been offered). This was the first of several expected markups by the Judiciary Committee, with the next scheduled for May 14. Meanwhile, in a report to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced that any analysis of immigration legislation would incorporate the potential macroeconomic effects of the policy change, something typically not included in CBO cost estimates. This is similar to the work done in 2006 by the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation on previous immigration reform efforts. The document can be viewed here: NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Susan Parnas Frederick, Ann Morse, Emily Wengrovius, Jennifer Arguinzoni


Those hoping for a budget agreement before the end of this federal fiscal season are likely to be disappointed. Despite the fact that the House and Senate each passed budget resolutions, both sides are so far apart, $91 billion to be exact, that a comprehensive budget framework is doubtful to occur. Leaders in each congressional chamber can’t agree on how to begin negotiations. While Senate leaders prefer to begin by naming conferees, House leadership wants to start by developing a spending policy. Similar to previous years, the House is now looking to begin the FY 2014 appropriations process next month by “deeming” the budgetary caps set in the House budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 25). Stay tuned. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley


In eight days, the Department of Treasury will pay the outstanding obligations the federal government has accumulated since the beginning of February, thus exceeding the nation’s debt limit. The Treasury will then use “extraordinary measures” to avoid a default for several months. Initial reports indicated this deadline would arrive in early August; however, as the deficit for FY 2013 shrinks, the Congressional Budget Office is now reporting reaching the debt ceiling may be delayed until October or November. Yesterday the House passed the Full Faith and Credit Act (H.R. 807), which would prioritize payments for debt service, Social Security benefits and other designated obligations. The legislation would not ensure long-term payments for some low-priority debts and annual appropriations since federal revenues do not and are not projected to meet all the government's obligations. The Senate is not expected to address this measure. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley


What is in the current federal tax code? What recommendations have been proposed in recent years? What tax reform suggestions have been offered by congressional working groups? Answers to these and many more questions are in the May 6 report submitted by the Joint Committee on Taxation to the House Ways and Means Committee. The 568-page document mentions comments received by the working group on retaining the tax-exempt status of bonds, which NCSL supports. The full report can be viewed here: NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley