Capitol to Capitol | Sept. 14, 2020


NCSL Continues to Advocate for Additional Stimulus Funding Even as Senate Fails to Advance ‘Skinny’ Version

The Senate failed to move forward its pared-down version of a stimulus bill that would have maintained some likelihood—albeit slim—that another significant federal Coronavirus response measure could be enacted before the election. NCSL continues to advocate for additional flexible state assistance, galvanizing state legislators, launching targeted Twitter content and issuing strategic Big 7 coalition statements. The Senate bill—which is $2.2 trillion less than the House-passed Heroes Act—would have restored supplemental jobless benefits, extended small-business aid, but omitted state aid and an additional round of stimulus checks to individuals. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

The Big 7 Question Treasury OIG Actions on CRF

Last week, the Big 7 state and local government associations sent a letter to the Treasury Department’s deputy inspector general expressing concern that the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) recent changes to the regulatory and oversight process for the Coronavirus Relief Fund by different offices within the U.S. Treasury creates discrepancies and confusion over eligible expenditures state and local governments can make. Most recently, the OIG’s new reporting requirements contradict prior Treasury guidance that states and localities have relied on to make budgeting, payroll, and employment decisions. The OIG changes may mean that it will claw back expended funds, which will have the impact of “punishing” states for expenditures made in good faith. Read more

NCSL Contacts: Susan Frederick and Erlinda Doherty

DHS Announces All States in Full Compliance With REAL ID

More than 15 years since Congress passed the REAL ID Act, all 50 states are now in full compliance. To date, the 50 states have issued more than 105 million REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, representing 38% of all driver’s license and identification card holders. As a reminder, on Oct. 1, 2021, full enforcement of REAL ID will take effect at all federally regulated airports, federal facilities and nuclear power plants. Full enforcement requires the use of a compliant state issued driver’s license, indicated by a white, black, or yellow star in the upper right or an acceptable alternative ID issued by the federal government such as a passport, federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID, as well as DHS trusted traveler cards. NCSL continues to work with Congress on modernizing some requirements of the original bill that require paper documentation when requesting a REAL ID. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Ben Husch

GAO Reports Opportunities Exist to Improve Federalism Consultation

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed intergovernmental affairs activities at executive branch agencies. This included assessing state and local government officials' interaction with intergovernmental affairs offices, which is required under the "Executive Order  13132--Federalism,” including their reported strengths and challenges. NCSL met with the GAO as part of its research. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Susan Frederick

Trump Bans Oil Drilling Off Coasts of Southern States

President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum announcing the imposition of a new ban until 2032 on oil drilling off the coasts of Florida (Atlantic and Gulf), Georgia and South Carolina, reversing the administration’s earlier pledges to open those waters to exploration. The decision expands a current moratorium until 2022 on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and broadens it to include drilling off the Atlantic coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The current moratorium expires in 2022. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Judge Strikes Down DeVos’ Equitable Services Rule to Send Additional CARES Act Funds to Private Schools Nationwide

The decision repeals the Education Department’s interim final rule that directs school districts to reserve Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds for “equitable services” to all local private school students, if the district makes funds available to all students in the district. The ruling applies nationwide and the department has since taken down the “equitable services” interim final rule. The court ruled that Congress expressed a clear and unambiguous preference for apportioning funding to public and private schools based on the number of students from low-income families. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

Department of Education Finalizes Religious Freedom Rule for Colleges and Universities

The rule would deny federal grant money to institutions if they violate the First Amendment and free speech policies. The rule does not affect federal student aid dollars. The regulation also requires that religious student organizations be given the same treatment as nonsecular groups and explains how religious-affiliated colleges can claim exemptions to Title IX. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero

HUD Allocates Final Round of CDBG-CV Funds

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the allocation of the third and final round of Community Development Block Grant funding appropriated in the CARES Act, totaling $1.988 billion. Read more

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Michael Quillen

HHS Awards Grants to States and Tribes to Prevent and Treat Substance Use Disorders

The HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration distributed the first-year funds of its $3 billion, two-year State Opioid Response and Tribal Opioid Response grant programs. Grants will be used for state and tribal prevention, treatment and recovery services for opioid use disorder and/or stimulant use disorders. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

Administration of Children Awards $8.7 Million for Child Support Programs

The Administration of Children’s Office of Child Support announced that eight child support agencies—Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Texas— were granted a total of $8.7 million to develop nine programs to educate teens and young adults about parenthood. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

Children’s Bureau Releases Annual Report on Adoption and Foster Care

The bureau released the 27th annual Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System report, which examined data from 2019. The report states that, among other findings, the overall number of children in care fell by 2.5% and the number of children entering foster care fell by 4.4%. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

New Child Welfare Prevention Services Clearinghouse Ratings

The Title-IV Prevention Services Clearinghouse released ratings for an additional 13 programs. Of those programs, six did not meet current criteria, five were “promising,” two were “supported,” and none of the programs met the “well-supported” rating. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile

NCSL Base Camp: Mapping the Way Forward for States Begins Tomorrow

For a year unlike any other, you need a plan unlike any other. Welcome to NCSL Base Camp 2020, where national thought leaders and policy experts join with states to map the way forward.

Join NCSL Sept. 15-17 for a three-day online experience like no other. Reserve your seat today.

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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