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

Volume 20   Issue 5, February 1, 2013

 

PRESIDENT ENTERS IMMIGRATION FRAY

Only 24 hours after eight senators unveiled a four-part immigration reform framework, President Barack Obama announced his own four-part “common sense” proposal. There are many similarities between the two. Both plans broadly call for streamlining the legal immigration system, strengthening border security, providing a reliable employment verification system and creating a path to citizenship. Both are silent on fiscal assistance for states and localities to provide education, health, social and other services to immigrants and enhanced border security. One difference between the plans is that President Obama does not link enhanced border security to gaining citizenship, as the Senate plan does. In making his announcement in Las Vegas, the president clarified that he would let Congress work on developing its own legislation rather than present his own. He warned, however, that he would change course if immigration reform were to get bogged down … again. For now, the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” intends to perfect its legislative package by the end of March to get it on the floor before the summer congressional recess. The president stated yesterday that he’s looking for Congress to complete its work within six months. Additional details on the administration’s plan are available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/29/fact-sheet-fixing-our-broken-immigration-system-so-everyone-plays-rules. NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Susan Parnas Frederick (federal legislation), Ann Morse (state legislation)


NCSL REPORTS ON STATE IMMIGRATION LAW ACTIVITY

Nearly 1,000 bills and resolutions introduced. At least 156 laws enacted. Another 111 resolutions adopted. Those numbers represent state legislative action on immigration-related topics in 2012 as reported by NCSL in January, 2013. After a six-year continuous climb, the number of introductions and enactments declined. However, the topics addressed remained broad. One-fourth of the enactments were budget-related. Another 17 percent addressed law enforcement challenges. Human trafficking, education, health, employment and identity issues accounted for another quarter of the enactments. The full text of the NCSL report is available at: http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/immig/2012-immigration-related-laws-jan-december-2012.aspx. NCSL staff contacts: Ann Morse (state legislation), Sheri Steisel, Susan Parnas Frederick (federal legislation)


THE SENATE ISN’T WAITING EITHER

In a typical year, the president submits his proposed budget in early February. The House and Senate Budget Committees, using the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the proposed budget against current law, and are then required to complete a budget resolution by April 15. As reported in the last issue of Capitol to Capitol, House Republicans are conducting caucus sessions to fashion an early budget resolution that would balance the federal budget in 10 years. Senate Democrats aren’t waiting either. A presidential FY 2014 proposal is unlikely to surface until March because of delays caused primarily by the Dec. 31 fiscal cliff. Incoming Senate Budget Committee Chair, Washington Sen. Patty Murray, has penned a dozen-page letter and memorandum to her colleagues arguing the need for a “balanced” approach in a Senate budget resolution. This translates to including “equal amounts of responsible spending cuts and new revenue from the wealthiest Americans” to further reduce the deficit reduction. Her memorandum argues that “the majority of deficit reduction over the past two years came through cuts to discretionary spending … disproportionately applied to non-defense funding [home to many state-federal grants].” The road to the budget resolution is pot-holed with the March 1 sequestration date and the March 27 continuing resolution sunset date, both major obstacles and both key concerns for states. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley


ODDS AND ENDS

As previously noted in Capitol to Capitol, the president signed into law disaster aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy on Thursday. A majority of the supplemental assistance will be subject to sequestration. More information will be provided as it become available. … Interested in the top issues confronting states? NCSL is offering a series of webinars on those very issues. The next one tackles Medicaid and how states are dealing with the Affordable Care Act. For more information, please visit NCSL’s 2013 Top Issues Webinar Series at: http://www.ncsl.org/meetings/2013-top-issues-webinar-series.aspx.