Capitol to Capitol | Nov. 15, 2021

11/15/2021

Urge Congress to Pass Federal COVID-19 Aid Flexibility

NCSL encourages state legislators to contact members of their U.S. House delegation and urge them to co-sponsor HR 5735,  the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act, and ask for its swift passage. This strongly bipartisan bill from Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.) would provide new flexibilities to states to spend the federal COVID-19 funds received under the American Rescue Plan Act on surface transportation infrastructure, disaster mitigation, and emergency response. Currently, allowable uses of the Coronavirus State and Local Relief Fund limit states to water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. NCSL is working with members of Congress to encourage passage quickly but with your help we can make sure states have this additional flexibility immediately. The companion bill S 3011  previously passed the U.S. Senate on unanimous consent, showing strong bipartisan support.

To download a draft email or letter to send to your member of Congress CLICK HERE. And of course, please let us know if you need assistance in contacting your member and their staff.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

President Signs $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill into Law; Lots of Wins for States

President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law after strong bipartisan votes in both chambers, 69-30 and 228-206. The bill includes a new $500 billion, five-year reauthorization of federal surface transportation infrastructure, as well as hundreds of billions in new funding for clean and safe drinking water, broadband infrastructure, disaster mitigation, electric grid modernization, ports and waterways, and more. Read more.

Read NCSL’s statement on the president signing the bill. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth (transportation and energy) Susan Frederick (disaster response, cybersecurity) and Tres York (broadband)

COVID-19 Vaccine-or-Test Emergency Temporary Standard Released; Court Grants Motion to Stay

The new emergency temporary standard (ETS) requires employers with 100 or more employees to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy that requires employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work. The ETS also requires employers to provide paid leave to workers to get vaccinated and time to recover from any vaccination side effects. Employers are not required to pay for testing or face coverings.

The ETS will cover two-thirds of the nation’s private sector workforce. In the 26 states and two territories with OSHA State Plans, the ETS will also cover public sector workers employed by state and local governments, including educators and school staff. Upon publication in the Federal Register on Nov. 5, employers must comply with the ETS within 30 days of publication and with the testing requirements within 60 days. However, on Nov. 12, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit granted a motion to stay enforcement and implementation of COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS. The court ordered that OSHA “take no steps to implement or enforce” the ETS “until further court order.” The order was issued after an expedited briefing and in response to a petition filed by various employers, states, religious groups, and individual citizens seeking a temporary stay of the ETS pending judicial review to determine if a permanent injunction should be granted.

The ETS also serves as a proposal for normal rulemaking for a final standard. The OSHA is seeking comment on all aspects of this ETS and whether the agency should adopt it as a final standard.

For additional details, including legal challenges and potential impact on states, read the NCSL blog.

Other Resources

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Deanna Ross

President Signs the Consider Teachers Act

The bipartisan legislation (S 848) revises the service obligation verification process for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant. Teachers whose TEACH grants were automatically converted to loans can now have their loan reconverted into a grant. Additionally, the law now provides more flexibility for employment certification and provides three years additional years for grantees to meet their service obligation due to the impact of Covid-19. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

SCOTUS to Hear Major Climate Change Case

In West Virginia v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court will examine the scope of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate the emission of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) from power plants. Specifically, the court will examine the EPA’s Clean Power Plan rule, even though the rule was never implemented after being finalized in 2015. Read NCSL’s blog.

NCSL Contact: Lisa Soronen

In Every Edition

Read the Oct. 25 Capitol to Capitol.

NCSL's Advocacy in Washington

NCSL’s Washington staff advocates on behalf of state legislatures before Congress, the White House and federal agencies in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policy positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.

NCSL Staff in Washington, D.C.

  • Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Director
  • Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Budgets and Revenue
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
  • Tres York | 202-624-8686 | Commerce and Financial Services
  • Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Kristen Hildreth | 202-624-3597 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Jon Jukuri  | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education