Capitol to Capitol | Vol. 21, Issue 18


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NCSL FIGHTS PETITION SUPPORTING PREEMPTION. Last month NCSL submitted two letters requesting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reject a petition that would preempt state laws regulating taxpayer funded broadband networks. The letters, one from NCSL, the other signed in conjunction with the National Governors Association and the Council of State Governments, are in response to the attempt by the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tenn., and the City of Wilson, N.C., to supplant the principles of federalism in their efforts to offer broadband deployment. NCSL noted that any preemptive action taken by the FCC would “tie the hands of state policymakers as they seek new strategies to protect the delicate fiscal and economic health of not only the state, but their cities and towns.” Currently, 21 states have enacted safeguards on municipal broadband projects. Earlier this year, FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler ignoring the principles of state sovereignty, commented “that state laws that directly conflict with critical federal laws and policy may be subject to preemption in appropriate circumstances.” The FCC will make its final ruling once all the comment periods are over. Stay tuned. NCSL staff contacts: James Ward, Susan Parnas Frederick

LIKE CLOCKWORK, BUDGET REACHES 11TH HOUR. Initial plans to quickly approve a stopgap spending measure that would keep the federal government funded into FY 2015 have faded, leaving lawmakers only a handful of days to determine the fate of a continuing resolution. Last week the House introduced and planned to vote on a proposal to avoid a government shutdown and fund the federal government until Dec. 11. Legislative action was delayed, however, because of concerns over the length of the continuing resolution and whether to include a request from the White House to authorize training of Syrian rebels against the Islamic State. Questions also abound on several legislative provisions facing looming deadlines. The proposal would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act until June 30, 2015, and Dec. 11, respectively. With both chambers of Congress on recess the week of Sept. 22, lawmakers hope to address the spending plan this week and avoid another last-minute deadline deal. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley

COOPERATION IN FEDERAL CONSERVATION EFFORTS. On Sept. 3, NCSL sent a letter thanking the Departments of Defense, Agriculture and Interior for their help in securing interagency cooperation in conservation programs in the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. This allows funds, provided by the Department of Defense to protect bases from encroachment, to qualify as a match or cost share in the conservation programs of the Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies. Signed by the co-chairs of NCSL’s Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee, the letter notes that this collaboration “will ensure the protection of military readiness while maintaining benefits for farmers, rancher and local communities.” NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon

STATE LAWMAKERS CONVENE IN MINNEAPOLIS FOR NCSLS LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT. State legislators and staff from across the country descended upon Minneapolis last month for NCSL’s 40th Legislative Summit. Attendees heard from national and local experts on critical state issues. Highlights include: Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Cindy McCain, who serves on Arizona’s Task Force on Human Trafficking, calling for tougher trafficking laws, renowned education expert Sir Ken Robinson discussing education reform, and an analysis of the upcoming mid-term elections from pollsters Neil Newhouse and Geoffrey Garin. The Summit also welcomed Nevada Senator Debbie Smith as NCSL’s new president. Senator Smith, who succeeds Immediate Past President Senator Bruce Starr of Oregon, chairs the Finance Committee in the Nevada Senate and serves as assistant majority leader. Utah Senate President Pro Tem Curt Bramble will now serve as president-elect of NCSL. Senator Mike Gronstal, the current Senate majority leader in Iowa, was elected vice president of NCSL and is set to become president at the 2016 Legislative Summit. View NCSL’s Legislative Summit resources page to find powerpoints, handouts, video recordings, and other materials discussed in Minneapolis. Registration for NCSL’s next meeting, the Forum in Washington, D.C. from Dec. 9-12, opens today. And please don’t forget to mark your calendars now for the 40th anniversary dinner, being held on Dec. 10 in conjunction with the Forum.

SUPREME COURT PREVIEW. Interested in what the Supreme Court may discuss as they begin their next term on Oct. 6? Lisa Soronen of the State and Local Legal Center provides an overview of cases, such as same-sex marriage and Affordable Care Act exchanges, that may be on the Supreme Court docket this fall.

Capitol to Capitol is a publication of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the premier bipartisan organization representing the interest of states, territories and commonwealths. The conference operates from offices in Denver and Washington, D.C.