Capitol to Capitol | Vol. 23, Issue 5


Capitol to CapitolMIXED REACTION FOR STATES IN CHEMICAL SAFETY BILL. Forty years after its initial enactment, the Senate followed the House in approving legislation to reform and modernize the regulation of toxic chemicals. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for a 21st Century Act, named after the late senator who advocated for reform, received bipartisan approval and is expected to be signed into law by the president this week. The legislation replaces requirements that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analyze chemicals from a safety perspective and replaces them with a standard that is related to the health impacts of the chemical in question. However, the bill also includes pre-emption of past state actions, although the bill grandfathers any state legislation in effect before 2003, and would allow states to take additional action beyond that of EPA through a waiver process. NCSL staff contact: Ben Husch

BETTING ON STATE SOVEREIGNTY. The emergence over the past year of daily fantasy sports, an industry with 16 million participants who spent more than $4 billion in 2015, peeked the curiosity of Congress last month. During an Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, federal lawmakers were looking for an informed opinion on whether a federal role is warranted on the regulation of daily fantasy sports. In a statement from NCSL president and Utah Senator Curt Bramble, the answer was a resounding, “no.” “NCSL strongly opposes any effort by the federal government to consider legislation that would overrule state authority by regulating daily fantasy sports at the federal level,” said Bramble. NCSL also urged the committee to recognize the sovereignty of states to regulate online gaming and sports betting, while also being respectful to state legislatures that prohibit gambling within their state. NCSL staff contact: Jake Lestock

BUDGET SPENDING HITS SUMMER SWOON. Less than four months remain until the start of the 2017 federal fiscal year, and appropriators have made little progress toward completing spending bills. While many appropriations bills have been marked-up in subcommittee, the House and Senate have only passed two (House) and three (Senate) appropriations bills, respectively. Spending bills in the House were detoured by an “open legislative process” that allowed floor consideration of controversial amendments. House leaders will now likely move appropriations bills under structured rules that seek to prevent discussions on divisive issues. With only eight legislative weeks in session remaining before the end of the current fiscal year, all signs continue to point toward either a comprehensive omnibus package or a short-term continuing resolution. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley

SENATE SEEKS TO RESCIND TRANSPORTATION FUNDING. One of the three appropriations bills passed in the Senate is the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spending bill. Along with allocating highway and transit funding, it would also rescind $2.2 billion of states’ unobligated transportation authority from previous funding bills. NCSL, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) urged lawmakers to remove this rescission in a letter to appropriations leaders in both the House and Senate. Last year’s transportation reauthorization, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST), already included a rescission of $7.6 billion of contract authority in 2020, which comes entirely from Highway Trust Fund programs used by state transportation departments. As the House committee mark-up of Transportation-HUD did not include an additional rescission, its fate won’t be determined until conference negotiations or in an omnibus agreement later this year. NCSL staff contact: Ben Husch

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.