Capitol to Capitol | Vol. 22, Issue 6


Capitol to CapitolPrefer to view an update of recent NCSL advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., and vital federal legislation? No problem. Go here to watch an overview of this week’s Capitol-to-Capitol. #Cap2Cap.

NCSL APPLAUDS INTRODUCTION OF MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS ACT. The Senate reintroduced the Marketplace Fairness Act last Tuesday, legislation that would give states that meet the requirements of the act the authority to require remote sellers to collect those states’ sales taxes. NCSL released a statement thanking Senators Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) for introducing the bipartisan initiative. NCSL Executive Director William Pound reiterated that “this plan will level the playing field for all retailers and will simply allow states to collect taxes they are already owed.” The Marketplace Fairness Act was approved 69-27 by the Senate in the previous Congress in May 2013. NCSL urges you to contact your senator and ask them to support the Marketplace Fairness Act. Please remind them that this legislation will end the unfair competitive edge that online and remote sellers enjoy over main street business and close a loophole in states’ collection of sales taxes. NCSL staff contact: Max Behlke

BUDGET BLUEPRINT BONANZA. The House and Senate this week introduced and marked-up their chamber’s budget resolution, which outlines budget priorities for the next year and provides long-term fiscal frameworks. Both plans target a balanced federal budget within 10 years, with upward of $5 trillion in deficit savings to accomplish the feat. As for FY 2016, each budget resolution recommends keeping the discretionary limits for both defense and non-defense spending, although each will likely provide additional defense funding to Overseas Contingency Operations, which is outside the reach of discretionary caps and sequestration. Each plan also includes reconciliation language aimed at reducing the nation’s deficit and repealing the Affordable Care Act. Reconciliation instructions are used to change budget authority or spending outlays and bring them into conformity with recommendations included in the budget resolution. The House and Senate both hope to bring their proposals to the floor next week, and aim to adopt a conference agreement by April 15. Stay tuned. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley

GETTING BACK ON TRACK. The House earlier this month approved a reauthorization for Amtrak, providing funding until FY 2019 at levels matching recent appropriations. The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act (PRIIA) also establishes a new state capital grant program, funded at $300 million annually, with half the funding designated for northeast corridor states. NCSL sent a letter before the House vote thanking the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for approving the measure and urging the full House to pass H.R. 749. Noting the benefits that Amtrak and other passenger rail services provide, the letter highlights NCSL’s supports for a “dedicated source of federal funding for passenger rail service, including adequate support for a capital improvement program.” NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon  

ODDS AND ENDS. “The legal system should find an appropriate case for this court to reexamine Quill.” Justice Anthony Kennedy made this comment in a concurring opinion in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl, and refers to Quill Corp. v. North Dakota. The Quill case, decided in 1992, held that states cannot require businesses with no in-state presence to collect sales and use taxes. “NCSL is pleased Justice Kennedy understands the necessity to reconsider and reverse the court’s ruling in the Quill decision,” NCSL’s Executive Director William Pound commented in a statement. … Legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was introduced in the Senate last week by Senators Mark Udall (D-N.M.) and David Vitter (R-La.). The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which would modernize the regulation of chemicals, is a mixed bag for states. While it would potentially preempt state action on “high-priority” chemicals, the bill grandfathers in any state legislation in effect as of the beginning of 2015.

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.