Capitol to Capitol |Oct. 5, 2020


Stimulus 4 Update

NCSL issued a statement in support of the state and local aid provisions—an additional $238 billion in flexible state assistance—in the House-approved “Heroes II” Act. NCSL also joined a coalition of over 200 government and business organizations last week urging Congress to pass a stimulus package before adjourning for the November election. Negotiations continue between the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. NCSL will continue to advocate for resources states require to help mitigate the pandemic’s deleterious impacts.

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

Federal Government Stopgap Funding Approved Through December

A continuing resolution (CR) was enacted last week averting a government shutdown at least through Dec. 11. Maintaining spending at FY 2020 levels, this legislation will allow government operations to continue while lawmakers attempt to finish work on the 12 regular annual appropriations bills during the lame duck session after the November elections. Additional funding in the “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021” provides $30 billion to the Commodity Credit Corporation that could be used to provide additional aid to farmers, as well as $8 billion for child nutrition programs. The CR also includes provisions that would extend the surface transportation authorization (FAST Act) for one year, which had been set to expire at the end of the month, authorizes the transfer of nearly $14 billion to ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust fund with $10.4 billion to the highway account and another $3.2 billion for the transit account. NCSL had strongly advocated for the inclusion of this extension in the CR, urging Congressional leadership to ensure the authorization did not lapse. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty and Ben Husch

States Granted Spectrum Licensing Authority

With a 3-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission will allow state governments to lease spectrum in the 4.9 GHz band for flexible uses, including commercial leases. The plan sought to improve usage of the band, which has been significantly underutilized and reserved only for public safety entities. Now, a single state lessor will be able to make leasing decisions for the 50 megahertz of spectrum, including for commercial use, public safety, electric utilities, or critical infrastructure. In the weeks before the vote, a provision was added that would make states and local governments that divert 911 fees for non-911 purposes ineligible from the new leasing scheme. Some commissioners and public safety groups voiced concerns that state authority over licensing will create interoperability concerns and encourage states to trade public safety communications for revenue. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Abbie Gruwell and Tres York

Bill for State and Local Cyber Support Passes 

The House passed the “State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act” (HR 5823), which establishes a grant program for states and localities to help them strengthen their cybersecurity capabilities. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will manage the grant program. The bill will authorize $400 million annually through FY 2025. Grant recipients would have to propose and implement plans to safeguard IT systems, make continuous threat assessments, provide safe online services, and assess cyberthreats to critical infrastructure. The Department of Homeland Security would have to approve state cybersecurity plans before awarding grants, with some exceptions. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Susan Frederick and Abbie Gruwell

FDA Announces Drug Importation Guidance

Following the release of the Safe Importation Action Plan and the “Executive Order on Increasing Drug Importation to Lower Prices for American Patients,” the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a final rule allowing the agency to authorize states, territories, the District of Columbia and Indian tribes to import certain prescription drugs from Canada, under certain conditions, including  ensuring that importation poses no risk to the public’s health and safety. The rule also outlines procedures for drug manufacturers to facilitate the importation of prescription drugs and biological products that are FDA-approved and manufactured abroad. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Haley Nicholson

CISA Releases New Election Disinformation Toolkit

The Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Election Disinformation Toolkit includes talking points and frequently asked questions designed to assist election officials with communicating their role as trusted sources for election information. The toolkit seeks to help voters visit election officials’ websites, ensure voters are getting accurate election information, openly communicate plans, procedures and processes, stop the spread of disinformation and encourage voters to be prepared to participate in the 2020 election. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Susan Frederick

ED Awards $100 Million in Competitive Grants to Improve Teaching Quality

School districts, nonprofits and universities in 21 states received 35 awards through the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program, Supporting Effective Educator Development, and Teacher Quality Partnership initiatives. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

In Every Edition

Read the Sept. 28 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 and Human Services
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education