Capitol to Capitol | Oct. 25, 2021

10/25/2021

Senate Approves New Flexibility in Use of ARPA Funds

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved S 3011, the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act. The bipartisan bill from Senators John Cornyn III (R-Texas) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) would provide new flexibilities to states to spend the federal COVID aid they received under the American Rescue Plan Act on surface transportation infrastructure projects. If signed into law, state, county and local governments could spend 30% of their ARPA funding or $10 million, whichever is greater, on highway and public transportation projects but not on transit operating expenses. The legislation also allows state and local governments to use ARPA funds to provide emergency relief from natural disasters or the negative economic impacts of natural disasters. NCSL is working with members of Congress to encourage quick passage of the bill.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Department of Education Approving ARPA ESSER III Plans on Rolling Basis

All states have submitted Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund III (ESSER) plans, and the Department of Education has approved 44 of them. States receive the remaining one-third of ESSER III funds upon approval. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

Math and Reading Scores Decline on National Assessment of Educational Progress Long-Term Trend Assessments

Average scores for 13-year-olds in both reading and mathematics were lower in 2020 compared with the last long-term trend assessments in 2012. Averages scores for 9-year-olds in reading and math were not significantly different from 2012. This is the first time scores have dropped in the test’s 50-year history.  Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

Administration Announces National PFAS Strategy

The Environmental Protection Agency announced its comprehensive PFAS Strategic Roadmap to confront per- and poly-fluoroalkyls, known more commonly as PFAS—a group of human-made chemicals used in a wide range of products including cookware, rain gear and pizza boxes.

The EPA’s road map is centered on three guidelines—increasing investments in research, enabling authorities to restrict PFAS chemicals from further release into the environment and accelerating the cleanup of PFAS contamination. Notably, the plan sets timelines for the agency to set enforceable drinking water limits for two PFAS compounds—perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)under the Safe Drinking Water Act by fall 2022 and to regulate PFOA and PFOS under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund law, by summer 2023. This will begin a separate process requiring the cleanup of contaminated sites. The plan also lays out how the agency will continue its work to limit PFAS pollution in wastewater by the end of 2024 via its effluent limitation guidelines and its authorities under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program.

Additionally, the plan includes an expansion of requirements on chemicals manufacturers to conduct health and environmental testing on more than 2,000 PFAS, with the EPA using its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to compel the tests.

For more information on PFAS visit the EPA’s webpage or NCSL’s webpage on state legislation and federal action.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

In Every Edition

Read the Oct. 18 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
  • 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