Capitol to Capitol | Oct. 1, 2018

Shutdown Averted…For Two Months


October originally was the eighth month of the 10-month Roman calendar formulated by Romulus, the legendary first king of Rome, deriving its name from the Latin ôctō, meaning "eight." The 12-month year was not born until around 713 B.C. when January and February were added. 

For the first time in 22 years, five of the 12 annual appropriations bills became law on time. After weeks of uncertainty on whether President Donald Trump would sign a spending package without funding for a wall on the southern border, the president signed a $855.1 billion spending package, H.R. 6157, which funds the military, plus the departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services.

These two appropriations bills join the previously passed minibus, H.R. 5895, which included three appropriations bills funding the departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs, along with the Legislative branch of the U.S. government, military construction and water projects. These five appropriations give these agencies 12 months of funding certainty and represent 75 percent of FY 2019’s base discretionary funding.

The remaining seven appropriations bills that fund the departments of Commerce, Justice, Agriculture, State, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation and Interior, as well as the EPA, science programs, foreign operations and agencies like the IRS will operate under a stopgap measure until Dec. 7.

These seven bills must be addressed after elections, and the track record for completing spending bills in a lame-duck session haven’t been reassuring. Since 2004, lawmakers in a lame-duck session have always punted the bills into the next calendar year through a continuing resolution, with one exception in 2014. With this in mind, another showdown for funding part of the government could be on the horizon at the end of the calendar year.

NCSL Contact: Jake Lestock

FCC Pre-empts State and Local Legislation, Siting Regulations on 5G Small Cells

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the Declaratory Ruling and Third Report and Order at the FCC’s Sept. 26 open meeting, focusing on state and local management of small cell wireless infrastructure deployment. The order places substantial new limits on local wireless siting review and could pre-empt most of the 20 states that have enacted small cell legislation in their state. The declaratory ruling and report and order:

  • Creates two new categories of shot clocks for small cell wireless facility review. Local governments would have 60 days to complete review of applications for collocated small cells, and 90 days for small cells on new structures.
  • Establishes or affirms definitions of two key terms:
    • “Small wireless facilities” are defined as including an antenna of no more than 3 cubic feet and equipment totaling no more than 28 cubic feet, placed on a structure that is either no more than 50 feet in height, no more than 10 percent taller than adjacent structures or no more than 10 percent taller than the structure’s pre-existing height after the new antenna is placed.
    • “Collocation” is defined as placing an antenna on any existing structure, regardless of whether that structure already has wireless equipment on it, or whether it has been zoned for placing that equipment.
  • Limits application fees for all small wireless facilities to $500 for up to five sites, and $100 per site for each site thereafter.
  • Limits recurring fees for small cells in the rights-of-way.
  • Limits allowable local aesthetic requirements, including minimum spacing requirements, to those that are “(1) reasonable, (2) no more burdensome than those applied to other types of infrastructure deployments, and (3) published in advance.”
  • Allows injunctive relief for shot clock overruns, allowing wireless site applicants to seek expedited injunctive relief in court within 30 days of a local government missing a shot clock deadline.
  • More restrictive state laws will remain in effect and will not be replaced by this order.

The new regulations will go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. NCSL was joined by the National Governors Association in a letter opposing the FCC’s order.

NCSL Contact: Danielle Dean

Tax Cuts 2.0 on Hold Until December


NBC ran “The Best of Carson” reruns on the weekends from 1965-1974, but in 1974, Johnny Carson wanted to save “Tonight Show” reruns for the extra vacations he was planning to take during weekdays. So, NBC hired Lorne Michaels to develop a show to be run in the Saturday night time slot. That is how “Saturday Night Live” was born: because Carson wanted more vacation days. 

The House passed all three tax cut bills last week that would:

  1. Permanently extend tax cuts for individuals and unincorporated businesses: H.R. 6760
  2. Provide more generous tax breaks for start-up businesses: H.R. 6756
  3. Motivate individual savings and boost retirement account incentives: H.R. 6757

The three bills passed mostly along party lines except for H.R. 6760, which caused some heartburn for blue-state Republicans who were forced to vote no as a result of the bill making the state and local tax deduction cap, currently set to expire by 2026, permanent. The Senate has no plans to act on any of these bills until after the November midterm elections. Although, House GOP members, who are heading home for an extended six-week recess, believe it will help them at the polls.

NCSL Contact: Jake Lestock

Sports Betting Hearing

The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations held its first hearing on sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for states to legalize and regulate sports wagering in the landmark case Murphy v. NCAA. The decision repealed the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which prohibited states from allowing gambling related to professional and amateur sports. Testimony was provided from both supporters and opponents of a federal sports betting framework that could pre-empt state authority. While regulations and safeguards are certainly needed, NCSL argued in a letter sent to House Judiciary members that any safeguards and regulations would best be set by state legislatures.

Please join us at the NCSL Capitol Forum, Dec. 5-7, in Washington, D.C., where we will hold a national hearing on sports betting and options for states when considering sports betting legislation.

NCSL Contact: Jake Lestock

FAA Reauthorization Expected to Pass This Week

Congress passed a seven-day extension of the current authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which had been scheduled to expire on Sept. 30. On Sept. 26, the House passed a five-year, $97 billion reauthorization of FAA. The Senate is expected to act shortly. Stay tuned to NCSL for further details.

Farm Bill Expires

The 2014 Farm Bill expired Sept. 30, the end of the 2018 fiscal year. Negotiations over the 2018 Farm Bill between the House and Senate remain stalled and appear unlikely to reach a conclusion until Congress returns for its lame-duck session after the November midterms. Many of the major programs, SNAP and WIC, along with the agriculture commodity and crop insurance programs included in the 2014 Farm Bill, will continue to operate due to funding procedures while others, such as conservation programs, will not.

The Congressional Research Service provided a full list of those programs that will experience a lapse in funding in a report from May 2018. Should this Congress be unable to reach agreement, it’s likely it will pass an extension to ensure those programs are continued leaving reauthorization in the hands of the 116th Congress. NCSL wrote to all Farm Bill conference members in early September highlighting its priorities for the final conference agreement.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch, Kristen Hildreth

Full Steam Ahead for ESSA Implementation: Senate Hearing, Florida Approval and States Critiqued

On Sept. 25, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held its second public hearing on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) since the start of the 115th Congress. State education commissioners from Nebraska, Delaware and South Carolina, and Shavar Jeffries, president of Education Reform Now, testified on states’ ESSA plan implementation.

The hearing covered a wide range of topics, including accountability, subgroup performance, testing and the use of federal funds for state and local school safety initiatives. Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matthew Blomsted highlighted the federal and state government partnerships. “ESSA has allowed us to better align federal programs … that would not have been allowed under No Child Left Behind without significant waivers from that law,” he said. Jeffries called on Congress and states to “demand data” to close achievement gaps.

On Sept. 26, the Department of Education announced the approval of Florida’s state ESSA plan, completing the approval of all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The complete list of all state plans is available.   

NCSL Contacts: Joan Wodiska, Miranda McDonald

NCSL in D.C. Committee Newsletters

Looking for more detailed information about all the goings-on when it comes to federal transportation, energy, environmental and agriculture? NCSL’s NRI Committee just released its latest updates including stories on U. S. Department of Agriculture aid for farmers impacted by tariffs, court rulings on Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and more than $500 million in grants for airports.

Find more information from NCSL’s Health and Human Services Standing Committee.

On This Day, Oct. 1, in …


Half of U.S. presidents were born in four states, while 29 states have yet to produce any presidents. Virginia leads, with eight U.S. presidents hailing from the state, Ohio is close behind with seven, New York is in third place after the 2016 elections with five and Massachusetts with four.

  • 1890: Congress passed the McKinley Tariff Act. The act raised tariffs to a record level. American voters, who suffered a steep increase in the cost of products, registered their displeasure at the polls that fall. House Republicans lost 93 seats and Democrats swung comfortably into a commanding majority.
  • 1903: The first modern World Series took place between the Boston Pilgrims and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Boston prevailed five games to three, winning the last four in a row.
  • 1908:  Henry Ford introduced the Model T, the car that opened travel for middle-class Americans.  
  • 1971:  Walt Disney World Resort opened in Orlando, Fla., including Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Ford Wilderness resort and Campground.
  • 1988: Mikhail Gorbachev became chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, effectively head of state of the Soviet Union.

Read the Sept. 24 Capitol-to-Capitol.

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NCSL's Advocacy in Washington

NCSL's Washington staff advocate Congress, the White House and federal agencies on behalf of state legislatures 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
  • Jake Lestock | 202-624-8171 | Budgets and Revenue
  • Danielle Dean | 202-624-8698 | Communications, Financial Services
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
  • Abbie Gruwell 202-624-3569 | Human 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
  • Joan Wodiska | 202-624-3558 | Education