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Capitol to Capitol | April 22, 2024

April 22, 2024

NCSL Update

NCSL Supports Bipartisan SAFER Banking Act

Current federal law makes it difficult, if not impossible, for cannabis businesses in states where the product is legal to access banking, insurance and lending services because financial institutions fear that, without a clearer federal directive, they will be penalized for dealing with the businesses. If enacted, the SAFER Banking Act would allow financial institutions to serve these legal state businesses without penalty. It would also help to reduce threats to public safety posed by cash-only cannabis businesses, enable better monitoring of the financial activity and enforcement of legal cannabis businesses, and demonstrate respect for state authority to legislate in this area.

In a letter to congressional leadership, NCSL urges lawmakers to attach the SAFER Banking Act to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization and pass the bill into law. Current FAA authorization expires May 10. The letter explains how the legislation is necessary to “provide much-needed banking resources to legal state cannabis businesses and help facilitate secure, simpler and more enforceable business activity in nearly every state.”

NCSL’s state-federal affairs team will continue working with members of Congress and congressional staff to garner support for the legislation.

Administration Updates

 $51M for Prerelease Health Services for Incarcerated People

The Health Resources and Services Administration has announced new competitive funding for HRSA-funded health centers to provide services to incarcerated people 90 days before release. These health centers provide primary care regardless of ability to pay and serve as a lifeline for people who are uninsured, unhoused, living in underserved areas or are otherwise unable to afford health services.

About 80% of people returning to the community after incarceration have chronic physical and mental health needs and many are at significant risk for opioid overdose. The disconnection from treatment and medications and from health insurance eligibility puts this population at high risk of negative health outcomes. The grants aim to reverse this trend by funding the efforts of 51 health centers to reduce drug overdose risk, address mental health and substance use disorder, manage chronic conditions, and prevent and treat hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis and other infectious diseases.

Applications are due by June 10

Click here to find a health center

FAFSA Update: Students Can Correct Forms, System Errors Being Addressed

Students can now correct their FAFSA forms. About 1.2 million forms need corrections from students or their families. Nearly two-thirds of forms are missing signatures or authorizations to retrieve federal tax information.

The Education Department began reprocessing 700,000 applications due to internal system errors this week and hopes to update those applications by next week. The 1.5 million applications that need corrected tax information from the IRS will be reprocessed by “approximately May 1.”

Paper-based FAFSA submissions have not been processed and no timeline has been stated for when processing will begin.

As of April 5, FAFSA completions are down 38% compared with last year, according to tracking from the National College Access Network.

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Department of Education Proposes Rules Providing Broad Student Loan Forgiveness

The proposed regulations include nine new rules that would allow the secretary of education to waive student loans in certain circumstances. The department estimates that the rules would collectively provide some level of loan forgiveness for over 30 million borrowers.

Borrowers whose balances have grown over time would be eligible for relief. The rules would permit automatic relief of up to $20,000 of the amount by which a borrower’s loans currently exceed what they owed upon starting repayment. In addition, the rules would forgive the full amount by which a borrower saw their balance grow after entering repayment if the borrower is enrolled in any income-driven repayment plan and has annual income equal to or below $120,000 if they are single or $240,000 if they are married.

The rules would also permit student debt forgiveness for borrowers with only undergraduate debt if they first entered repayment at least 20 years ago (on or before July 1, 2005). Borrowers with any graduate school debt would qualify if they first entered repayment 25 or more years ago (on or before July 1, 2000).

The rules would also allow the secretary to forgive debt for borrowers who are otherwise eligible for loan forgiveness under existing forgiveness programs, including income-driven repayment plans, but are not enrolled. In addition, the rules would relief for borrowers eligible for forgiveness opportunities such as closed school discharges but who have not successfully applied.

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Department of Education Releases Final Rule on Sex Discrimination

The Title IX rule, which applies to educational institutions that receive federal funding, updates definitions and procedural requirements for addressing sex-based discrimination and harassment. Changes include prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, sex characteristics and pregnancy, and requiring schools to take prompt and effective action to address sex discrimination and sex-based harassment. It does not address sex discrimination in sports, which is expected to be the subject of a separate forthcoming rule.

Title IX regulations were last updated in 2020 and included new standards and procedures for determining instances of sex discrimination and sex-based harassment. The new final rule retains some but not all of those procedural requirements.

The rule goes into effect on Aug. 1.

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DHS Announces $1.8B for Preparedness Grants

The funds, made available by the Department of Homeland Security through eight fiscal year 2024 preparedness grant programs, are aimed at helping states and localities prepare for, prevent and respond to disasters and acts of terrorism. The programs include both competitive and noncompetitive grants for states, localities, tribes and territories.

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