Capitol to Capitol | Oct. 7, 2019















Congress is in recess until Oct. 15; the current continuing resolution (CR) expires Nov. 21. More on the CR can be found in last week’s Capitol to Capitol.


Last week, Jimmy Carter, the 39th commander in chief, became the oldest living former U.S. president.

Surprise Billing and Prescription Drugs, Congress Marches On

Members and staff are still meeting to work on proposals to address surprise medical bills and prescription drug prices. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Maine) proposed a solution to Democratic lawmakers that would bring together stakeholder groups and relevant federal agencies, such as Health and Human Services and the departments of Labor and Treasury, to develop recommendations that could then be issued as a regulation by the administration. Neal’s proposal is one of several among lawmakers to address these policies before the end of the year.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

TSA: Only 27% of Americans have REAL ID as One Year Deadline Passes

TSA reported that only 27% of Americans have been issued a Real ID-compliant identification card. Acting TSA Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell noted that the low enrollment numbers may in part be explained by the fact that some states have only recently begun to issue the licenses, but acknowledged that the low enrollment is concerning. All travelers age 18 or older have until Oct. 1, 2020, to obtain a Real ID-compliant identification card. After that date, those without a Real ID will have to present another form of acceptable identification to fly domestically. That includes U.S. passports, Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler cards, transportation worker identification credentials and permanent resident cards. Currently, 47 states issue compliant ID cards. More on the REAL ID can be found here.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Court Rules EPA Failed to Achieve Appropriate Reductions in Interstate Air Pollution

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to devise a new plan on how to address pollution that travels across state lines. Specifically, the EPA  is ordered to revise its 2018  "closeout" rule, which would have ended the requirements of certain states in the eastern half of the U.S. to reduce smog under the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR).

CSAPR was initially promulgated to require upwind states to reduce power plant emissions that travel with wind patterns and contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution on downwind states. This ruling builds off a related case from Sept. 2019 where the court ruled largely in favor of CSAPR, but that the EPA needed impose a deadline for upwind states to eliminate their "significant contributions" to downwind ozone pollution. Further legal challenges surrounding the CSAPR are anticipated.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

NTSB Formally Recommends Seat Belt Requirement for Limos


The Pony Express mail service ran nonstop and was faster than its competitors. During a route, a rider typically traveled 75 to 100 miles, and changed horses every 10 to 15 miles at one of the nearly 200 relief stations along the way. Changes between horses and riders were synchronized so no time was wasted. For the more dangerous work, riders were paid between $100 and $125 per month; for treacherous routes, a few riders were paid $150.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a recommendation, which is not legally binding, for new federal seat belt requirements for limousines. The recommendation comes as the board investigates an October 2018 limousine crash that killed 20 people. Specifically, the NTSB wants the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require lap/shoulder belts for each passenger seat on all new vehicles used as limousines, and to require that limousine seating systems “meet minimum performance standards to ensure their integrity during a crash.”

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

CMS Appeals 340B Ruling Date

A federal D.C. district court judge ruled last year that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) lacked authority to reduce reimbursements for Medicare Part B drugs, which are purchased through the 340B program by certain hospitals. Despite the court’s decision, the CMS has defended the reductions during the appeals process, with oral arguments scheduled before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 8. The agency’s proposed cuts are almost 30% to hospitals participating in the 340B program.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

FDA Releases New Food Safety Dashboard

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a "Food Safety Dashboard" (FSMA) tool used to track implementation of new rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act and new metrics for inspections and recalls. The FDA noted that "comparing the FSMA data with our recall data shows the bigger picture, demonstrating the effectiveness of preventive measures as food recalls once again have reached a five-year low."

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Explore Critical Issues Facing States at NCSL Capitol Forum

Registration is now open for NCSL's Capitol Forum, Dec. 10-12 in sunny Phoenix.

This year's NCSL Capitol Forum is an excellent opportunity to connect with your colleagues from across the country to explore the most critical issues facing the states. From redistricting to our ever-popular Supreme Court roundup and preview, there will be something for everyone.

Early bird registration for the 2019 NCSL Capitol Forum ends Tuesday, Nov. 19. Take advantage of this discounted rate and register today!

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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
  • 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