UNFUNDED MANDATE MADNESS. NCSL President Senator Curt Bramble testified before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday to discuss the burden unfunded federal mandates have on state governments. Bramble urged members of a subcommittee for the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee to address “transparency and government responsibility by ensuring the full potential of impacts of intergovernmental mandates in legislation and regulations is known.” Chairman James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a former member of NCSL’s Executive Committee, have introduced legislation, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act (UMITA; S. 189), that would provide additional transparency and accountability in regards to unfunded federal mandates. NCSL previously expressed support for provisions within UMITA, such as expanding reporting requirements to include new conditions of grant aid and encouraging agency consultation with state and local governments. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley
ITFA NOW, EFAIRNESS LEGISLATION LATER. The president this month signed legislation that makes permanent the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), effectively prohibiting state and local taxation of Internet access. NCSL and other state and local groups had previously urged lawmakers to consider ITFA in conjunction with remote sales and use tax collection legislation. However, in agreeing to move forward with ITFA, proponents of efairness legislation received a commitment that the Senate will vote on the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 698) by the end of the year. The Marketplace Fairness Act received bipartisan support and passed the Senate in May 2013, by a vote of 69-27. NCSL staff contact: Max Behlke
COLORADO WINS REMOTE SALES REPORTING REQUIREMENT CASE. A federal appeals court last Monday ruled that a Colorado law requiring remote sellers to inform Colorado purchasers of their purchases and send the same information to the Colorado Department of Revenue did not violate the dormant Commerce Clause or discriminate against interstate commerce, a boost for state effort to collect sales taxes on remote purchases. The ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the U.S. District Court’s decision in 2010’s Direct Marketers Association v. Brohl. NCSL and other national organizations had previously filed an amicus brief in support of Colorado. NCSL staff contacts: Max Behlke, Susan Frederick
ENGINE TROUBLE. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a six-year, $69 billion, federal aviation reauthorization earlier this month. However, the bill was removed from consideration on the House floor last week becauseof growing opposition among lawmakers. The Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4441) would renew authority for the Federal Aviation Administration, currently scheduled to expire at the end of March. NCSL noted several concerns and recommendations of the long-term reauthorization in a letter to Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. These include raising the federal cap on passenger user fees, allowing states more funding flexibility to address security measures, and opposing any legislation that would restrict a state’s ability to regulate intrastate commerce. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon
COALITION FOR EDUCATION IMPLEMENTATION. NCSL joined other education advocates in forming a coalition to coordinate federal efforts in the implementation and success of the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA). The State and Local ESSA Implementation Network aims to promote state, local and school decision-making, ensure a timely transition from the previous federal law (No Child Left Behind to ESSA) and collaborate with education stakeholders to provide guidance to the Department of Education on implementation issues. NCSL staff contacts: Lee Posey, Ben Schafer
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