NCSL: INTERNET TAX FAIRNESS IN EXCHANGE FOR INTERNET ACCESS MORATORIUM. Included in the laundry list of pending expirations at the end of this month is a prohibition on state and local taxation of Internet access. The Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) was enacted in 1998 and has been incrementally extended over the past 17 years. With this deadline approaching, NCSL sent a letter urging congressional leaders to delay legislation addressing ITFA until they enact legislation, such as the Remote Transactions Parity Act or the Senate-passed Marketplace Fairness Act, which would level the playing field for local retailers and allow states to collect sales taxes on remote purchases. The letter, signed by NCSL’s leadership, notes that if Congress extends or makes the moratorium permanent, it should “do so while recognizing the same technology that empowers the Internet is the same technology that allows for the seamless collection of sales taxes on remote transactions.” In June, the House passed a permanent extension of ITFA by voice vote, while the Senate has yet to consider an extension in the 114th Congress. NCSL staff contact: Max Behlke
SEPTEMBER STATE OF PLAY. Lawmakers returned from their summer recess this month facing a heavy workload and limited time. With Washington planning for the arrival of Pope Francis, Congress has only a handful of scheduled legislative days remaining to determine the fate of the federal government before the 2016 fiscal year begins Oct. 1. This will just be the beginning of a loaded congressional agenda for the remainder of 2015 that includes a fiscal merry-go-round of budgetary deadlines and pending reauthorizations. Not for the first time in recent years, Congress will need to avert defaulting on the federal debt and determine the fate of “tax extenders.” The “X date” for the nation’s debt is estimated to arrive within the next three months, while a decision on the litany of expired tax provisions needs to be determined by the end of the year. In addition, along with renewing authority for the Federal Aviation Administration, the Child Nutrition Act and the Internet Tax Freedom Act (see story above), Congress must also reauthorize federal surface transportations by Oct. 29.
SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN. With the end of the federal fiscal year quickly approaching and limited negotiations across the aisle, a continuing resolution is likely to kick off FY 2016. The stalemate initially revolved on whether to increase the statutory cap on discretionary spending. Recent efforts to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood have further complicated discussions. One possible solution is to pass a reconciliation bill that would include a budget package and cannot be filibustered, although the president has already vowed to veto such a proposal. Another option is aligning a funding mechanism with other fiscal deadlines looming later this year, or passing a full-year continuing resolution that would keep sequestration reductions that are scheduled to continue on Oct. 1. And then there is always the potential for a federal government shutdown, the second in the last three years. Fun fact: This would be the 19th consecutive year Congress started the fiscal year with a continuing resolution. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley
NCSL COMMENTS ON TRANSPORTATION SAFETY. In comments submitted last week, NCSL urged the Federal Transit Administration to consider several matters important to states as it moves forward in developing and completing proposed changes to its safety program. This includes respecting state sovereignty, ensuring consultation with states and avoiding mandates that are enforced through the use of reprogramming sanctions. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon
2015 LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT HIGHLIGHTS. Unable to attend or missed any sessions from last month’s Legislative Summit? Fear not, NCSL’s online resources page includes links to PowerPoints, handouts and audio/video recordings from Seattle. And don’t forget, NCSL’s Capitol Forum, set for Dec. 8-11 in Washington, D.C., is right around the corner. Register now to take part in NCSL’s Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, training for legislative staff, and to work with your colleagues from across the country to craft the states’ agenda.
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.