Capitol to Capitol | Sept. 17, 2018

Legislation Introduced to Tie States’ Hands on Sales Taxes


On this day in 1796, President George Washington’s Farewell Address was read to Congress informing the public that he would not seek a third term of the presidency. In the letter, Washington (with help from Alexander Hamilton) explained his decision and offered counsel to the people as he stressed the importance of the Union that bonded all Americans together. He cautioned against three interrelated dangers that threatened to destroy the Union: regionalism, partisanship and foreign entanglements.

“The name of American … must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.”

On Sept. 14, U.S. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced legislation that would tie states’ hands in implementing the South Dakota v. Wayfair decision. This bill is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) historic June 21 ruling, which brought clarity to an issue that has been plaguing businesses and states for more than 20 years by giving states the authority to require remote sellers to collect and remit sales taxes on their residents' out-of-state transactions. The legislation has three main pillars that would pre-empt state authority:

  • Ban states from retroactively imposing sales tax collection duties on remote online sellers.
  • Prohibit states from implementing their new sales tax authority before Jan. 1, 2019.
  • Forbid states from collecting remote sales taxes from businesses that have gross annual receipts below $10 million in the U. S.

NCSL issued a statement on Sept. 14 opposing this “unwarranted intrusion on state authority, which, if enacted, would continue the competitive advantage online sellers enjoy over Main Street sellers.” Because of the SCOTUS decision, states and retailers are working together to establish a fair and simplified collection system that ensures parity for all sellers. NCSL will oppose any congressional effort seeking to delay, limit or pre-empt state efforts to implement the Wayfair decision. NCSL will be sending a letter to all members of Congress along with other state organizations early this week.

NCSL Contacts: Jake Lestock, Neal Osten

Congressional Spending Deal Will Put President in Tough Position

On Sept. 13, Congress sent a $147.5 billion three-bill appropriations package to President Donald Trump that will fund the Departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs, as well as congressional operations, water projects and military construction for FY 2019. H.R. 5895 is a major legislative achievement for congressional leaders, who have failed to enact multiple appropriations measures before their deadline expired since 2007. Just last year, it took five continuing resolutions and two short government shutdowns before a massive omnibus spending deal was reached this past March.

With one ‘minibus’ spending package out of the way, Congress has nine more annual spending bills it still must enact by the end of the month. Congressional leaders kept the ball rolling last week announcing that they had reached another deal that would fund most of the discretionary programs for the next fiscal year. The $855 billion measure, H.R. 6157, combines the two largest and usually most controversial spending bills that fund the Departments of Labor (DOL), Department of Education (ED), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense. The package includes an agreement of nearly $675 billion in defense spending, but also includes higher funding levels than anticipated for DOL, HHS and ED, which Republicans did not want. 

The Senate is likely to vote this week to adopt the conference report on the H.R. 6157 minibus with the House following suit next week when it returns to Washington. This second package would also carry a safeguard stopgap funding measure that would extend current funding levels through Dec. 7 for the rest of the federal agencies that will not receive their full-year appropriations completed by the Sept. 30 deadline. Congressional leaders were assured by Trump that he does not plan to reject this package and shut down the government once the deal is reached, but he has also sent mixed messages in the past few weeks. If the spending deal is sent to the president, he will be placed in a tough position, one that will force him to decide whether to reject the bill and shut down a majority of the government or sign a funding deal that will not include funding for things like his proposed border wall and risk having increased funding for unwanted programs.

NCSL Contact: Jake Lestock

Congress Approves FY 2019 Energy-Water Appropriations

Included in the recently passed $147.5 billion fiscal year (FY) 2019 “minibus” appropriations bill was the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019, which contains funding for several federal agencies, departments and programs such as the Department of Energy and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Overall, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 totaled $44.64 billion, $1.44 billion above the FY 2018 enacted level and $8.1 billion above the president’s budget request. Some of the primary highlights for states include receiving $55 million in funding for the State Energy Program, which is the same as FY 2018, and $257 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program, $6 million more than 2018. Additionally, the bill does not include any funding for the department related to activities at Yucca Mountain, a highly contentious issue among members of Congress. One “policy rider” that was included in the bill, was a provision that restricts the application of the Clean Water Act in certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches. Read more specifics on the spending bill in the Natural Resources & Infrastructure Committee’s Information Alert as well as the latest NCSL news on the Clean Water Rule and Waters of the United States.

NCSL Contacts: Ben HuschKristen Hildreth

EPA to Host Webinar on New Water Infrastructure Grants and Lead Testing in School Drinking Water

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be holding an open webinar Sept. 18, from 3-4 p.m. (EST) that will address new developments concerning water infrastructure, including the EPA’s Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation grant programs and updates to its 3Ts Toolkit (Training, Testing and Taking Action) for addressing lead in drinking water in schools and child care facilities.

Call-in number: 202-991-0477, Code: 5205871

Adobe Connect Link:

NCSL Contacts: Ben HuschKristen Hildreth (Environment), Joan Wodiska (Education)


When the Television Academy was brainstorming a name for its new awards back in the 1940s, the term of “Ike,” aka the nickname for a television iconoscope tube, was suggested. But some worried that the term was too closely linked to then WWII hero (and future POTUS) Dwight Eisenhower, and therefore seemed too political. Instead, Henry Lubcke floated “Immy,” referencing another piece of TV tech, the image-orthicon tube. The group decided to feminize it to “Emmy,” so that it matched the statuette that had already been selected.  

Federal Judge Rules Against U.S. Department of Education’s Delay on Student Loan Rules

On Sept. 12, a federal judge ruled against the U.S. Department of Education’s delayed implementation of Obama-era regulations, which extended loan forgiveness to defrauded borrowers. Announced in 2016, the regulation, also known as a borrower defense, sought to cancel the debt of those who received degrees from institutions that defrauded them. U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss agreed with consumer advocates and attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia and ruled the department’s delay as “unlawful,” and “arbitrary and capricious.” The delay was also considered “procedurally invalid” due to the department’s failure to initiate negotiations on the rulemaking process.

NCSL Contacts: Joan Wodiska, Miranda McDonald

House and Senate Resolving Differences on Department of Education Appropriations Act

On Sept. 13, House and Senate leaders reached an agreement on U.S. Department of Education funding. H.R. 6157 appropriates funds for the Departments of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services and Education for FY 2019 and includes an overall $1 billion funding increase compared to FY 2018. Under the bill, the maximum Pell Grant would increase to $6,195. A $70 million increase for career and technical education programs are also covered under the bill, which would now receive $1.3 billion in funding. Under the bill, district charter school funding would increase by $40 million and Title I funding would increase by $125 million. The bill would also authorize cancer patients to defer their federal student loans without interest penalty.

NCSL Contacts: Joan Wodiska, Miranda McDonald

New Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5) Program

When the Every Student Succeeds Act was passed in December 2015, the law included a new Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) program, a $250 million grant opportunity geared toward fostering connections between states’ early learning programs and K-12 education. The PDG B-5 is intended to build upon the existing infrastructure of federal, state and local early care by providing programs and services used to aid children from birth to 5 years of age and their families. States’ governors or an authorized representative must submit a letter designating the state lead agency responsible for grant execution by Oct. 15, the application deadline.

Find more grant related information.

NCSL Contacts: Joan Wodiska, Miranda McDonald

On This Day, Sept. 17, in …


Time magazine, which was just bought by Salesforce founder Marc Benioff for $190 million, launched its iconic red cover border after Time’s ad executives were told in 1930 that to perform better on newsstands, the magazine’s cover should have “pretty girls, babies or red and yellow.”

  • 1912: The Lincoln Highway was laid out by Carl Fisher, the creator of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to become the first paved coast-to-coast highway in the United States, running from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.
  • 1984: The daily syndicated version of “Jeopardy!” makes its debut with your host Alex Trebek. Trebek has hosted more than 7,000 episodes and holds the Guinness World Record for most episodes of a game show hosted by the same presenter. 

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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