WAITING TO BOARD. Facing a looming deadline, Congress approved a short-term extension through July 15 for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). With regard to a long-term reauthorization, the Senate Commerce Committee approved a two-year reauthorization for the FAA on March 16, and it is expected to come to the Senate floor in April. Included in the Senate bill is language that would pre-empt state laws on unmanned aerial systems (UAS/drones). NCSL reiterated concerns over this provision, noting it would effectively undo the work of 26 states that have enacted legislation pertaining to the use of UAS and only serve to exacerbate the uncertainty of this technology. On the other side of the terminal, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved a six-year reauthorization that includes privatizing air traffic control operations, although the bill is facing difficulty in attracting enough support to gain a floor vote. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon
FEDERAL BUDGET UPDATE. The House Budget Committee marked-up a FY2017 budget resolution on Wednesday, providing the opening salvo to congressional budget proceedings. However, it’s uncertain whether this measure will be approved when it’s considered on the House floor. In dispute is the amount of overall discretionary spending, with leadership supporting a funding level that abides by last year’s budget agreement. One possibility for reaching consensus is proposing entitlement reductions equal to the $30 billion difference of new spending provided for FY 2017. The tax and spending framework offers a path to balance the federal budget and targets $7 trillion in deficit savings within the next 10 years. The Senate, meanwhile, will likely bypass approving its own budget resolution and instead proceed directly to considering appropriations bills at last year’s agreed upon discretionary spending level of $1.07 trillion. Stay tuned. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley
2016 FISCAL FACTS. Have questions on the fiscal well-being of state and local finances? NCSL and other associations representing state and local officials released the latest State and Local Fiscal Facts policy brief, which aims to correct any misinformation and misperceptions on the fiscal condition of state and local governments. A prime example of such misinformation is the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act (PEPTA), which would add a complex layer of federal reporting on top of existing state and local accounting and reporting and threatens to eliminate the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds for any state and local government not in compliance. This latest version is currently being circulated in an attempt to yield cosponsors, an effort NCSL has strongly opposed. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley
FLIRTING WITH DISASTER FUNDING. NCSL joined the U.S. Conference of Mayors and League of Cities in commenting on efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) to establish a disaster deductible for states and localities to receive disaster relief funds. FEMA introduced a notice of proposed rulemaking earlier this year in response to recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security to create a disaster deductible instead of raising the threshold for declaring disaster relief. The proposal brings forth several concerns for states, including: delaying distribution of disaster relief funds, the fiscal capacity to raise funds with the budget constraints faced by state and local governments and if FEMA has the authority to lower its share of disaster recovery costs. NCSL staff contacts: Susan Frederick, Danielle Dean
2016 LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT. Registration is open for the 2016 NCSL Legislative Summit, Aug. 8-11, in Chicago. The Summit is the biggest and best gathering of state legislators and staff in the country. Visit the Summit website today for more information
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.