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STATE-FRIENDLY EDUCATION REWRITE MOVES IN SENATE. Bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) was marked up and approved by unanimous consent last week and includes several recommendations offered by NCSL and the National Governors Association. The Every Child Achieves Act, introduced on April 7 by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), proposes to return control over K-12 education accountability and school improvement strategies to states and provides flexibility to states to use innovative new assessments. In a letter sent last week, NCSL applauded the HELP Committee for introducing the ESEA reauthorization and embracing NCSL’s recommendations. The bill is expected to receive floor consideration in the Senate as early as this spring. NCSL staff contacts: Lee Posey, Ben Schaefer
SENATE NEARS APPROVAL OF ANTI-TRAFFICKING BILL. After nearly a month of back-and-forth debate, the Senate appears close to a deal on a comprehensive anti-human trafficking bill. S. 178, the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act,” addresses all aspects of human trafficking, including law enforcement training, to better identify and apprehend traffickers. The bill, which is sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), also creates a Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund and establishes a block grant to states to provide victim’s services assistance. S. 178 passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the House approved a similar version earlier this year. Please urge your senators to vote for immediate cloture and final passage of S. 178 to combat human trafficking. NCSL staff contacts: Susan Frederick, Jennifer Arguinzoni
TAX DAY FILING. Federal and state tax systems are inextricably linked, and any federal tax reform will have far-reaching consequences for state and local governments. This was NCSL’s message in comments submitted to the Senate Finance Committee on April 15. The Senate Finance Committee has asked for public input on bipartisan tax reform as it aims to overhaul the federal tax code. The goal is for the committee to produce findings on current tax policy and introduce legislative recommendations by the end of May. NCSL urged the committee to adhere to several principles, including: 1) protecting the state and local income tax, sales tax and property tax deductions for federal income tax purposes; 2) maintaining the tax-exempt status of state and local government bonds for infrastructure and capital projects; 3) ensuring the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund; and 4) maintaining and improving upon the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley
ODDS AND ENDS. Congress is on track to complete the congressional budget process for the first time in almost five years by agreeing to a budgetary framework for FY 2016. Leadership in each chamber last week selected lawmakers to serve on the conference panel, with the goal to agree upon a concurrent budget resolution by the end of April. … The Department of Labor released a Notice of Proposed Rules for the Workforce Innovation Act, legislation enacted last summer designed to help the unemployed get jobs, education and training. The comment period for the public will be open until June 15, 2015. … The House on Thursday approved legislation (H.R. 622) that would make permanent the state and local sales tax deduction. This provision, which is mentioned in NCSL’s letter to the Senate Finance Committee, has been extended in recent years as part of the tax extenders packages.
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.