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Capitol to Capitol | July 17, 2023

July 17, 2023

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

NCSL Updates

NCSL Briefing on Federal Student Loan Repayment Program

With the student loan repayment pause expiring at the end of August, the Department of Education is rolling out a series of new policies to help borrowers successfully reenter repayment. Austin Reid, NCSL’s director of federal education policy, will explain recent federal actions and detail their implications for state policymakers and student loan borrowers. Register

NCSL Legislative Summit 

The Long and Short from the Supreme Court    Wednesday, Aug. 16 | 1:45 PM-3:00 PM

Summary: In the most recent term, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a pile of cases on issues that impact state legislatures, including the independent state legislatures theory, redistricting, student debt and affirmative action. And there's more excitement to come! Join us as we dive into these issues and more!
Moderator: Susan Parnas Frederick, Sr Fed Affairs Counsel, National Conference of State Legislatures
Speaker: George Hicks, Partner, Attorney, Kirkland & Ellis

Administration Updates

EPA Issues Final Rule to Phase Down Hydrofluorocarbons

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons by 40% starting in 2024. The rule builds on the EPA’s 10% phasedown for 2022 and 2023, and aligns with the goals outlined in the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, which directs the agency to address HFCs via new authorities in three main areas: phasing down the production and consumption of listed HFCs, managing HFCs and their substitutes, and facilitating the transition to next-generation technologies. The act requires the EPA to phase down HFC production and use by approximately 85% over the next 15 years but provides a five-year exception from HFC regulation for niche applications deemed “essential uses,” including defense sprays, medical inhalers, semiconductor manufacturing, certain insulating foams and mission-critical military uses. Of most importance for states, the act included a preemption provision that prohibits states from enforcing their own HFC laws or restricting the management or use of the exempted HFCs for five years.

HFCs were intended to replace ozone depleting substances referred to as “substitute refrigerants” under the Clean Air Act. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the EPA approved several HFCs and HFC-blends as acceptable uses for ozone depleting substances for products including aerosols, motor vehicle air conditioners, commercial refrigeration and foams. However, as science evolved, states and the federal government moved to take action to address the “atmospheric effects” of the chemicals. Find more information on the EPA’s rulemaking here.

Biden Administration Releases National Strategy to Address Adulterated Fentanyl

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy released a new national response plan on July 11 to coordinate a whole-of-government response to the increasing instances of street drugs containing deadly combinations of fentanyl and xylazine. Xylazine is a powerful veterinary sedative that, unlike fentanyl and other opioids, does not respond to opioid overdose reversal drugs such as Narcan. On July 13, White House drug czar Dr. Rahul Gupta briefed stakeholders on elements of the plan:

  • Increasing testing drugs for xylazine.
  • Improving data collection on xylazine-adulterated fentanyl.
  • Developing evidence-based prevention.
  • Harm reduction and treatment tactics.
  • Reducing the supply.
  • Scheduling xylazine as a controlled substance.
  • Researching xylazine impacts on mental and physical health.

The plan aims to reduce xylazine overdoses by 15% in at least 75% of the country by 2025. The White House reports that xylazine has been detected in every state. Read more.

Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury Release Proposed Regulation of Short-Term Insurance Plans

The proposed rule would limit the length of short-term health insurance plans—meant to provide an option for brief gaps in comprehensive coverage—to three months with the option to renew for one additional month. The regulation would also modify the conditions for hospital indemnity or other fixed indemnity insurance and clarify the tax treatment of certain benefit payments in fixed amounts received under employer-provided accident and health plans. Comments are due by Sept. 11. Read more.

HHS Unveils Proposed Rule on Child Care Funding

The proposed rule related to the Child Care and Development Fund aims to make child care more affordable for families, improve funding stability for providers and make it easier for families to enroll in the program. Specifically, the rule would cap copayments at 7% of income for families enrolled in the program and require payments to providers to be based on enrollment and paid at the beginning of the month. The rule would also encourage states to waive copayments for families with income at or below 150% of the federal poverty line; to accept online CCDF applications, and to consider the siblings of CCDF-eligible children to be presumptively eligible. Comments are due by Aug. 28. Read more.

Education Department Announces $39B in Loan Forgiveness Through Income-Driven Repayment Plans

More than 804,000 borrowers will have their remaining loan balances discharged in the next 30 days due to one-time adjustments in the number of monthly payments that qualify toward forgiveness under income-driven repayment plans. Borrowers must make $240 or $300 monthly payments on an income-driven repayment plan to have their remaining balance forgiven. Read more.

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