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

Volume 20,  Issue 7 - February 15, 2013


NCSL CONTINUES SUPPORT FOR MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS ACT

The House and Senate this week introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, which would give states that comply with the tax simplification requirements the authority to require remote sellers to collect sales taxes. It is estimated that in 2012 state and local governments lost at least $23 billion in uncollected sales taxes from out-of-state sales. NCSL continues to strongly support this bipartisan initiative, which mirrors similar legislation introduced in the 112th Congress. Sponsors include Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi, Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, Arkansas Representative Steve Womack, California Representative Jackie Speier and Vermont Representative Peter Welch. Read NCSL’s press release here: http://www.ncsl.org/press-room/ncsl-support-for-marketplace-fairness-act.aspx. NCSL staff contacts: Neal Osten, Max Behlke


PASSWORD PROTECTED

The president this week issued an executive order to establish a process to share information on possible public and private cyber threats and to develop voluntary cybersecurity standards for the private sector. The order, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, echoes the president’s call to pass comprehensive cybersecurity legislation contained in his State of the Union address. The executive order 1) requires both the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence to issue instructions to ensure the safety of unclassified reports from cyber threats, 2) calls on the secretary of Homeland Security to solicit and consider advice from state, local, territorial and tribal governments on how to coordinate the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure, and 3) charges the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) with developing a “Cybersecurity Framework” to reduce the risks to critical infrastructure. The president’s executive order and NCSL’s information alert are available here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/02/12/executive-order-improving-critical-infrastructure-cybersecurity; http://www.ncsl.org/state-federal-committees/sclaw/white-house-cybersecurity-executive-order.aspx. NCSL staff contacts: James Ward, Jennifer Arguinzoni


THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

The likelihood that across-the-board spending cuts will begin on March 1 is increasing. With time running short on enacting legislation to postpone or modify sequestration, lawmakers are now considering  March 27, when the continuing resolution expires, as the “best time to redesign the automatic spending cuts, ” says  Texas Representative Kevin Brady, chair of the Joint Economic Committee. The Congressional Budget Office’s recent “Budget and Economic Outlook” estimates reductions of 7.9 percent in defense discretionary spending and 5.3 percent in nondefense discretionary spending. The question remains on the severity of cuts at the beginning of March. Federal agencies have some flexibility on when the reductions would occur, and the possibility remains Congress could retroactively reinstate funding for previous cuts.
 
Both chambers of Congress are still working on last-minute substitutes for sequestration. Next week the Senate will vote on the $110 billion American Family Economic Protection Act that would increase revenues and decrease spending equally. This proposal would eliminate the $85 billion in reductions in federal FY 2013 and replace sequester cuts through December 2013, with the remaining $25 billion. Most of the revenue increases would be derived from the “Buffet Rule,” which would apply a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for taxpayers with a gross adjusted income over $1 million. Similar to sequestration, the cuts would be split between defense discretionary and non-defense discretionary spending. Senate Republicans will propose a sequestration alternative, as well. The House has recently discussed legislation, the 2013 Down Payment to Protect National Security Act, which would reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent and freeze lawmakers’ salaries for 10 years. Meanwhile, the president ruled out raising the age to become eligible for Medicare along with savings to Medicaid as possibilities to achieve deficit savings. Stay tuned. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley