Skip to main content

Capitol to Capitol | April 15, 2024

April 15, 2024

Questions? Please use the email icon at left to contact NCSL’s State-Federal Affairs Division.

NCSL Updates

Urge Congress to Support Additional Funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program

The legislation would appropriate $7 billion in unused Treasury Department funding to help continue the ACP through 2024.

CALL TO ACTION : Contact members of your congressional delegation and urge them to support the bipartisan, bicameral Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024 or other efforts to extend funding for the ACP.

Consider Using the Following Talking Points

  • We urge you to support the bipartisan, bicameral Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024 or other efforts to extend funding for the ACP.
  • If Congress does not provide additional funding, program participants—who are mostly lower-income individuals and families—will not receive the full ACP benefit of $30 after this month.
  • The program has provided affordable, high-speed internet to 23 million households.
  • After April, many of our residents who currently receive high-speed internet access because of the ACP’s subsidy will lose their service.
  • The ACP has been essential for getting our residents connected to high-speed internet service so that our children can more fully engage in school, parents and veterans can access employment opportunities, older and rural residents can visit their doctors virtually, and everyone can better connect with family and friends.
  • NCSL letter to Congress supporting additional funding for the ACP .

Congressional Update

In Bipartisan Vote, House Reauthorizes Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6655: A Stronger Workforce for America Act. This bipartisan bill, passed with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote (378-26), seeks to update the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014 and, when originally enacted, WIOA made crucial improvements to streamline the multitude of federal workforce development programs and enhance accountability through a single set of performance metrics.

Almost a decade later, significant challenges persist that impede the workforce system’s ability to provide high-quality services to job seekers and employers. H.R. 6655 seeks to improve these challenges by making critical updates to increase the amount of skills development provided under the law, strengthening connections between employers and the workforce system, and updating standards for state programs utilizing federal funds for workforce development. Updates will also strengthen programs for dislocated workers, digital literacy, adult education and youth workers.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Click here for a fact sheet.
Click here for bill text. 
Click here for a bill summary. 
Click here for a section-by-section summary. 

Bicameral, Bipartisan Federal Privacy Bill Released

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) released a draft federal privacy bill: the American Privacy Rights Act . The bill, which is accompanied by a section-by-section overview , would preempt many state privacy laws, if enacted. The NCSL Federal Affairs team will be more closely analyzing the bill in the coming days and meeting with congressional staff to convey thoughts and provide recommendations.

The bill’s enactment is far from certain as several members of Congress have expressed concerns with provisions preempting state privacy laws, allowing consumers to file private lawsuits against entities that violate their rights under the Act (a private right), expanding the Federal Trade Commission’s enforcement authority, and failing to focus more on children, to name a few. Congress plans to hold hearings on this and other federal privacy bills, including the Kids Online Safety Act and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. An initial hearing is set for April 17 before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data and Commerce. The hearing is titled “ Legislative Solutions to Protect Kids Online and Ensure Americans’ Data Privacy Rights. 

Administration Updates

Treasury releases updated FAQ for SLFRF Funds

The Treasury Department updated its State and Local Fiscal Recover Funds FAQ on March 29 to include questions related to the November 2023 obligation interim final rule  (and reference guide ). The interim rule was intended to clarify how recipients can obligate funds, including covering personnel costs and using interagency agreements. Per the department:

“The 2022 final rule became effective April 1, 2022. On December 29, 2022, Congress amended the SLFRF program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (2023 CAA) to provide state, local, territorial and Tribal governments more flexibility to use SLFRF funds to provide emergency relief from natural disasters, build critical transportation infrastructure, and support community development. On August 10, 2023, Treasury released an interim final rule implementing these new eligible uses; this interim final rule was published in the Federal Register on September 20, 2023.”

You can find more information on the recovery funds, including news and program updates, here .

Education Department Provides FAFSA Update, Some Forms Need Corrections

16% of submitted FAFSAs Students are required to make corrections on 16% of submitted FAFSA forms, and 30% of submitted forms have data processing errors. Approximately two-thirds of the forms with data processing errors require corrected tax information from the IRS. The department says forms with tax data issues would be corrected by May 1, while other issues would be resolved starting the week of April 15. The department has processed 7 million applications to date and is now sending information from completed forms to states and colleges within one to three days of completion. Read more

Protecting the Nation’s Water: First National Rule to Block PFAS

For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency has released a national regulation to limit PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in drinking water. Also known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are a family of over 15,000 synthetic chemical substances with long chemical chains, making it difficult if not impossible for them to break down naturally in the environment. The buildup of these substances in nature and the human body has been attributed to illness and death. The new rule, which is the first new water contaminant limit since 1996, is expected to help reduce illness in 30,000 people and prevent 10,000 deaths in the United States.

Under the new rule, water utilities will be required to eliminate all detectable levels of two specific PFOA and PFOS chemicals—a subset of PFAS—and significantly reduce the levels of four other PFAS over the next five years by upgrading equipment. Water utilities will also be required to use the rule’s hazard index and remove combinations of certain PFAS considered dangerous, even if they are below EPA limits, and other hazardous chemicals by upgrading treatment systems.

Compliance is expected to be a heavy lift for water utilities and cost an estimated $1.5 billion annually. The administration is making $1 billion available to states to distribute to entities in need of assistance. Some have said the rule doesn’t go far enough to address PFAS harm, while others criticize the cost burden on water systems, with some saying the rule will cost significantly more than estimated to implement. Another regulation listing PFOA and PFAS as Superfund hazardous substances is expected.

Other Updates

Nearly One-Quarter of People Disenrolled From Medicaid Remain Uninsured

A new survey of over 1,000 adults with Medicaid coverage before the unwinding process started reveals that 1 in 5 lost coverage and 23% of those disenrolled from the program remain without health insurance. While over half (54%) said cost was the primary obstacle to obtaining new coverage, the survey revealed a number of other obstacles, including long call center wait times, confusion about which documents were needed, lack of reliable internet access needed to submit documents, or no assistance available at all. Despite the challenges, 83% were able to retain coverage or reenroll.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has provided states with additional strategies and waiver flexibilities to facilitate the unwinding process. CMS data indicates that these waivers have been particularly effective in improving renewal outcomes for children.

Read more about the survey.

NCSL Contact: Lauren Kallins

In Every Edition

Read previous issues of Capitol to Capitol.

  • Contact NCSL

  • For more information on this topic, use this form to reach NCSL staff.