Capitol to Capitol | Sept. 30, 2019

9/30/2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Stopgap Funding for Federal Government Enacted

A continuing resolution (CR) (HR 4378) funding the federal government at current fiscal year (FY) 2019 levels and avoiding a government shutdown was enacted last week. The measure extends funding to Nov. 21 for federal agencies beyond the new FY, which begins Oct. 1. While the CR is considered a short-term fix, some lawmakers are concerned that a year-long CR may be the final result if Congress and the Trump administration are not able to compromise on border security funding. House and Senate staffers will work over the October recess to develop parameters for negotiating the FY 2020 spending bills both chambers have passed. Funding for the border wall—the president plans to divert money already allocated for military construction projects—remains a critical obstacle to the regular appropriations process: 127 military construction projects in 23 states totaling $3.6 billion would be affected.

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

DYK?

Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to impeach federal officials, and the Senate the sole authority to conduct an impeachment trial. To date, the House has impeached 19 officials, and the Senate has conducted 19 impeachment trials, which have resulted in seven acquittals, eight convictions, three dismissals, and one resignation with no further action.

Senate Approves Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act on Sept. 26. Among the notable funds impacting states:

  • $7.6 billion for the U.S. Census Bureau. This amount is a $3.7 billion increase over the FY 2019 enacted amount. The bill also calls for a mobile response unit to help enumerate hard-to-count communities.
  • $500 million for grants pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This is the highest funding level ever appropriated for VAWA programs.
  • $75 million for implementation of the First Step Act, the major criminal justice reform legislation Congress passed in December 2018.
  • $545 million for Byrne/JAG grants. This amount is $121.5 million more than the FY 2019 enacted amount.

NCSL Contacts: Susan Parnas Frederick and Lucia Bragg

Senate Energy Committee Approves Reauthorization of State Energy Program

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a markup session where it approved 20 bills focusing on a host of energy and water topics. Most important among these was S. 2094, which would reauthorize the U.S. State Energy Program at $90 million, an increase from its current appropriated level of $55 million. Its companion was approved by the House in September. Both bills include new requirements for state energy plans focusing on cybersecurity and physical security responsibilities. Among the bills approved was a bill to provide nearly $300 million in research for energy storage technologies, while others include a focus on energy efficiency and voluntary building codes.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

House Passes SAFE Banking Act

Last week the House passed HR 1595, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019, by a vote of 321–103. The bill provides protections for depository institutions that provide financial services to “legitimate” cannabis-related businesses and their service providers. The bill prohibits a federal banking regulator from penalizing a depository institution for providing banking services to marijuana-related businesses. The bill specifies that a depository institution shall not, under federal law, be liable or subject to forfeiture for providing a loan or other financial services to marijuana businesses. A Senate companion bill is also expected to be introduced in the coming weeks.

 NCSL Contacts: Susan Parnas Frederick and Lucia Bragg

EPA and California Continue Back and Forth Over Complying with Environmental Laws

DYK?

Removal of an impeached president is rare. Only two U.S. presidents have been impeached, Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton, and both were acquitted after Senate trials. Richard Nixon resigned after the Watergate scandal before any impeachment proceedings began.

On Sept. 23, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to California warning the state that it could be subjected to the withholding of federal transportation funds if it does not "withdraw their backlogged and unapprovable SIPs (State implementation Plans for the Clean Air Act) and work with EPA to develop complete, approvable SIPs." The EPA sent a second letter on Sept. 25, noting that the "EPA is concerned that California's implementation of federal environmental laws is failing to meet its obligations," as "the agency is aware of the growing homelessness crisis developing in major California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the impact of this crisis on the environment." While no specific potential penalties are noted in the letter, the EPA requests a response within 30 days.

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. Here is just a sample of what's on the agenda:

  • How to Create an Innovation Economy in Your State.
  • State-Federal Balance in Disaster Spending.
  • Running on Empty: Alternatives to the Gas Tax.
  • The Electoral College: The Pros and Cons.
  • Health Care Access in Rural America.

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

The Reading Room 

Read the Sept. 24 Capitol to Capitol.

Have ideas or suggestions for how Capitol to Capitol can be improved? Please take two minutes to let us know in this very short survey.

If you have comments or suggestions regarding Capitol to Capitol, please contact dc-directors@ncsl.org.

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