If you prefer to watch an update on recent NCSL advocacy efforts in Washinton, D.C., check out our eVideo update.
CONGRESS NEARS ACHIEVEMENT IN EDUCATION BILL. The Senate this week is expected to continue deliberation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), overhauling the education law referred to as No Child Left Behind. The Every Child Achieves Act, which last month unanimously passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, contains several provisions favorable to states. These include enhanced state flexibility in accountability systems and school improvement strategies, both of which were recommended by NCSL and the National Governors Association in reauthorization principles released earlier this year. The Every Child Achieves Act also lists state legislatures among those who must be consulted by state departments of education on Title I plans. NCSL joined other state and local associations in a letter thanking Senate leadership for allowing the ESEA reauthorization to be considered on the Senate floor, and urged passage of the Every Child Achieves Act. The Senate debate comes on the heels of the House narrowly passing its version last week in a contentious vote of 218-213. The Student Success Act received a veto threat from the administration. With differences between the House-passed measure and Senate proposal currently being debated, a potential bicameral conference will not be easy. NCSL staff will produce a summary of both bills this week. Stay tuned. NCSL staff contacts: Lee Posey, Ben Schaefer
RUNNING ON EMPTY. Pressure continues to mount as federal lawmakers have until the end of July to extend authorization and funding for the nation’s surface transportation programs. With this looming deadline in mind, the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee approved the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, a six-year, $277 billion federal transportation reauthorization. Included in the bill is language authorizing slight increases in federal funding as well the creation of a new program for states to find alternatives to the gas tax, a provision supported by NCSL. However, the bill would reduce some state funding for the Surface Transportation Program and carve out funding for the new National Freight Program from existing funds rather than new dedicated funding. Additionally, although the DRIVE Act determines long-term funding levels for federal transportation programs, it does not provide any funding mechanism, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees. A Senate Finance Committee working group recently recommended establishing a voluntary vehicle-miles-traveled pilot program to help raise money for highway projects. However, this suggestion doesn’t offer a solution for the trust fund’s short-term solvency problem. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon
NCSL APPLAUDS HOUSE PASSAGE OF CHEMICAL REFORM. NCSL thanked members of the House for their overwhelming support and approval of legislation that will overhaul regulation of the nation’s toxic chemicals. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Modernization Act of 2015 would update current law that grants the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to require reporting, record-keeping and safety testing of chemical substances and mixtures. The letter, co-signed with the Environmental Council of States, highlights language in the TSCA Modernization Act that would allow states to regulate a particular substance in the absence of an EPA final determination. Attention now turns to the Senate, where a companion bill may be brought to the Senate floor before the August recess. NCSL staff contacts: Susan Frederick, Melanie Condon
#NCSLSummit. NCSL’s Legislative Summit in Seattle is less than three weeks away. NCSL’s premier meeting will include general sessions featuring former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Amazon’s Andy Jassy and best-selling author Jon Meacham. All proposed policy directives and resolutions to be considered by NCSL standing committees at the Summit will be published on Friday, July 17. If adopted by their respective standing committee, these policies will be voted on at NCSL’s General Business Meeting on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 10:15 a.m.
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