Capitol to Capitol | Vol. 22, Issue 2


Capitol to Capitol

If you prefer prefer to view a video update of recent NCSL advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., and vital federal legislation, follow this link to see the video. 

A SOURCE OF CONTENTION.  A public hearing on the merits of a proposal to base interstate sales taxes on the location of the seller rather than the consumer (called hybrid-origin sourcing) produced far more questions than answers. This illustrates once again that the Marketplace Fairness Act, or similar efairness legislation, is the most viable option to solving the sales tax loophole, which gives online retailers an unfair advantage over “brick and mortar” retail store owners by allowing them to short-change sales tax collection. The hearing was held in New Orleans by NCSL’s State and Local Taxation Task Force. State legislators heard from proponents and opponents of the hybrid proposal, including retailers and state tax policy experts. Hybrid-origin sourcing raises concerns over state sovereignty and taxation without representation. U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has expressed interest in this plan over a destination sourcing plan, such as the NCSL-supported Marketplace Fairness Act; last week he circulated a discussion draft to tax Internet sales using a hybrid-origin model. NCSL staff contact: Max Behlke

NCSL-ENDORSED ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING BILL REINTRODUCED. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators last week renewed efforts to combat sex trafficking with the introduction of the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking (SETT) Act. Similar legislation was approved in the House last year, but despite broad consensus, the Senate was unable to vote on legislation before the end of the 113th Congress. SETT, which is sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), would aid state and local governments in developing victim-centered programs, training law enforcement officers and prosecuting human traffickers. A memo released by the four senators highlighted the legislation’s support from NCSL. State legislatures have been at the forefront of this issue, with more than 45 states enacting 221 anti-trafficking laws over the last three legislation sessions. NCSL staff contacts: Susan Frederick, Jennifer Arguinzoni

FEDERAL BUDGET UPDATE. The House last week quickly moved to clear the lone spending bill not included in December’s budget package. The Homeland Security appropriations measure, which would provide $39.7 billion to fund operations such as Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Transportation Security Agency, was approved by a vote of 236-191. The FY 2015 Homeland Security funding measure was only funded until Feb. 27 in last month’s budget deal, largely due to opposition to President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The House-passed bill includes several provisions that would alter or eliminate immigration enforcement activities, amendments that are unlikely to be approved when the Senate addresses the measure in early February. NCSL staff contacts: Susan Frederick, Jennifer Arguinzoni

Meanwhile, the president announced he will submit a budget proposal on Feb. 2, a deadline that has not been met in recent years. Of particular interest will be whether the administration’s FY 2016 budget will abide by statutory spending caps and recommend changes to sequestration reductions. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley

ODDS AND ENDS. After failing to be reauthorized when the program expired on Jan. 1, Congress overwhelmingly approved, and the president signed, an NCSL-supported reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. The act, extended for six years, provides a federal backstop for the terrorism risk insurance market and increases the threshold on terrorism claims to $200 million. … Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has reintroduced legislation that would close loopholes in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and strengthen the analysis and oversight of federal intergovernmental mandates on state and local governments. Previous iterations of Mandates Information and Transparency Act (H.R. 50) passed the House in three of the last four congressional sessions. Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate this year by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Deb Fischer (R-NE). … Were you unable to attend NCSL’s 2014 Forum? Click here to find links to Forum resources, such as speakers’ PowerPoint presentations and handouts, to learn the latest on important and emerging state-federal issues. 

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.