Capitol to Capitol | Nov. 9, 2020

11/9/2020

The Senate returns to Washington, D.C., this week, the House the following. The Senate is expected to take up the majority of its spending bills this week in an effort to make progress on the stalled appropriations process. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that an economic stimulus bill will be the chamber’s focus and raised the possibility of including more for state and local aid as part of a package. 

Northern District Court of Illinois Denies DHS Public Charge Rule

The Northern District Court of Illinois struck down the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Public Charge Rule nationwide, declaring that the rule is arbitrary and capricious and “substantively and procedurally defective,” under the Administrative Procedure Act. The court held that the rule fails because DHS, among other things, “did not adequately consider the reliance interests of state and local governments.” The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the lower court’s decision pending appeal, so for now, DHS may continue implementation of the rule. NCSL has opposed this rule due to the immense fiscal and economic burden it would place on states. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Susan Frederick (law and criminal justice) and  Ann Morse (immigration)

Interim Final Rule on Maintaining Medicaid Enrollment During Public Health Emergency

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, states receiving the temporary bump in Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) were required to maintain enrollment and coverage for all beneficiaries through the end of the month in which the PHE for COVID-19 expires. Under the interim rule, to maintain the increased FMAP, states must maintain Medicaid enrollment of “validly enrolled beneficiaries” falling under one of three tiers of coverage. States may terminate enrollment for individuals not validly enrolled, after providing advance notice and fair hearing rights. States can also make changes to beneficiary coverage, cost-sharing and post-eligibility treatment of income. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

CMS Publishes COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage Toolkit

The agency published coverage and reimbursement information on COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine administration and cost-sharing under Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Basic Health Program. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

USDOT Takes Next Steps on Drone Integration with State and Local Governments

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced it was formally concluding its three-year Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program. However, eight of the nine state, local and tribal governments that participated in the program have signed new agreements with the Federal Aviation Administration to continue to tackle remaining drone integration challenges as part of a new initiative called BEYOND. The new initiative will answer ongoing issues surrounding the Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations that are repeatable, scalable and economically viable. Specific emphasis is placed on community engagement efforts to collect, analyze and address community concerns; infrastructure inspection, public operations and small package delivery; and leveraging industry operations to better analyze and quantify the societal and economic benefits of UAS operations. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Policies on Cost of Care Rolled Out

The policies require that by 2022, insurers provide advance notice to consumers on the rates they pay medical providers and for covered prescription drugs. The following year, companies will have to publicly post all payment information for the 500 most common medical services. By 2024, health insurers will have to provide patients their entire medical bill in advance and to include potential out-of-pocket drugs costs. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

Federal Agencies Release Initial List of Projects Funded by Great American Outdoors Act

In a major step for implementation of the recently enacted Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Interior released their priority lists of deferred maintenance projects to receive funding in fiscal year 2021. The Department of Interior identified projects within the Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park though specific information about individual projects were not included. The USDA’s list comprised projects totaling $285 million. The GAOA provides $900 million in permanent funding to the Land Water and Conservation Fund, in addition to directing other federal energy revenues to reduce the backlog of federal infrastructure maintenance projects. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

President Appoints New Federal Energy Commission Chairman

President Donald Trump appointed James Danly as chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), replacing Neil Chatterjee, who has served as FERC chairman since 2018. While no specific reason for the change was given, many analysts speculated it was in response to Chatterjee’s recent approval of an order favoring distributed energy resources and FERC’s hosting of a meeting on carbon pricing. Danly served as FERC's general counsel starting in 2017, before he was confirmed as commissioner last year. Should Joe Biden assume the presidency in January 2021, it is expected that Danly would lose his chairmanship to Commissioner Richard Glick, but remain a commissioner. FERC remains an agency that has significant effects on state energy policies, electrical transmission infrastructure and pipeline approval.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

In Every Edition

Read the Nov. 2 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 policies’ 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
  • Abbie Gruwell 202-624-3569 | Commerce and Financial Services
  • Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Jon Jukuri  | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
  • Haley Nicholson | 202-624-8662 | Health
  • Margaret Wile | 202-624-8171 | Human Services
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education