Capitol to Capitol | Volume 21, Issue 7

Jeff Hurley 4/7/2014

Capitol to Capitol

HOUSE BUDGET ON DISPLAY. The House Budget Committee last week approved Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) FY 2015 budget resolution and 10-year budgetary framework that would provide more than $5 trillion in savings. A budget resolution’s primary purpose is to develop a framework to consider revenue, spending and other budgetary considerations including an overall spending limit. This is the fourth year Ryan has drafted a budget resolution, and this edition, titled "The Path to Prosperity," contains many similarities to previous proposals. Perhaps most important, it adheres to the overall discretionary caps for FY 2015 enacted in December’s Bipartisan Budget Act. Other notable highlights of the resolution include: lowering and consolidating income tax rates, converting Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into block grants to states, establishing a Medicare exchange that would allow private insurers to compete with traditional Medicare starting in 2024, and eliminating the Social Services Block Grant. A unique provision proposed by Ryan would allow states to opt out of the federal gas tax and use state revenue instead to fund their transportation projects. The full House is expected to vote on the budget resolution this week. Earlier this year, the Senate decided not to propose a budget counterpart. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) determined the Bipartisan Budget Act already provided congressional appropriators with a fiscal guide for FY 2015. NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Jeff Hurley

FEDERAL PREEMPTION AT STAKE. “NCSL urges you to respect the sovereignty of states to decide whether to allow gambling, and in particular online gambling.” This was the message NCSL sent to congressional leaders in a letter on April 3 in opposition to recently introduced legislation to ban gambling via the Internet. The proposal, The Restoration of America’s Wire Act, would overturn a 2011 ruling by the Department of Justice that clarified that intra-state online gaming is lawful, opening up the opportunity for states to authorize forms of Internet gaming within their own borders. In the letter, NCSL President Oregon Senator Bruce Starr and President-Elect Nevada Senator Debbie Smith urged Congress to allow “each state to make the decision that is best suited to the desires of its residents and not through a congressional mandate.” Thus far, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands have enacted legislation to allow online gambling within their borders, Maine and Utah have clarified their statutes prohibiting gambling on the Internet, while a dozen other states have introduced legislation addressing online gambling. NCSL staff contacts: James Ward, Jeff Hurley

SUPREME COURT CAMPAIGN FINANCE CASE LIKELY TO AFFECT STATES. The U.S. Supreme Court last week struck down aggregate limits on individual contributions to candidates for federal office, political parties and political action committees. McCutcheon v. FEC will likely have an impact on the dozen or so states (see NCSL’s “State Limits on Contributions to Candidates” chart) that place their own aggregate limits on individual campaign contributions to candidates for state office. The decision casts doubt on the constitutionality of these state laws, but its impact will vary by state. In New York, for example, the aggregate limit to contribute to a state candidate is $150,000, so not much will likely change in that state. SLLC staff contact: Lisa Soronen | NCSL staff contact: Susan Frederick

ON THE HORIZON. The Senate Finance Committee approved draft legislation last Thursday that would extend a variety of tax provisions that expired at the end of 2013, including the state and local sales tax deductibility. The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to discuss the tax measures, commonly referred to as “tax extenders,” this week. … The House began the appropriations process last week, as both the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs and Legislative Branch subcommittee spending bills were approved. Leadership in both the House and Senate have been vocal in their desire to complete the appropriations process and avoid a continuing resolution before the beginning of the 2015 fiscal year, a feat not accomplished since 1997.   

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.