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Capitol to Capitol | Sept. 25, 2023

September 25, 2023

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

NCSL Updates

Call to Action: Contact your Senate members this week and urge support for the SAFER Banking Act. 

This week, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee is expected to vote on the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act of 2023, paving the way for a floor vote in the Senate. This will be an amended version of The SAFE Banking Act, which passed the House during the 116th and 117th Congresses but failed to move in the Senate. Committee action guarantees floor action as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) supports the legislation. Read NCSL’s most recent letter to Senate leadership here.  

 Contact your Senate members this week and urge support for the SAFER Banking Act! 

 The SAFER Banking Act would allow and protect financial institutions that choose to offer services to legitimate cannabis-related businesses operating consistent with their respective state laws. Without this provision, the conflict between state and federal cannabis law has forced cannabis businesses in those states to operate as cash-only entities, rendering them prime targets for them, burglary, armed robbery and other property crimes. 

Congressional Updates

Potential Impacts of a Government Shutdown on State Grant Programs

Federal Funds Information for States has published an FAQ on the impacts of a shutdown on state grant programs. Read more.

Administration Updates

30 States Required to Pause Medicaid Procedural Terminations 

As NCSL reported in a recent edition of Cap to Cap, many state Medicaid agencies were erroneously terminating Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage for all members of a household even when individual members remained eligible. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to states on Aug. 30, directing them to review their eligibility systems and processes to assess compliance with the federal requirement that eligibility be determined on an individual basis. Any states not in compliance were directed to immediately pause improper procedural terminations, reinstate coverage for all affected individuals and fix the systems errors. As of Sept. 21, 30 states were out of compliance.

The CMS estimates that 500,000 children and adults who were improperly disenrolled will regain coverage as states work to resolve the system errors. The CMS is reviewing the assessments submitted by states and plans to provide direct assistance to help states achieve compliance. A preliminary list of state assessments and estimates of the number of people impacted in each state is available. Read more.

DHS Proposes Modernization of H-2 Temporary Visa Programs and Strengthens Worker Protections

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at decreasing opportunities for abuse in the H-2 Temporary Visa program. Under the proposed regulations, employers who violate program requirements may be deemed ineligible to use the program in the future. It would also strengthen prohibitions on and consequences of collecting fees from or imposing exploitative debts on H-2 visa employees. Further, DHS is proposing greater flexibility for H-2 workers by extending grace periods for seeking new employment, preparing for departure from the United States, or seeking a change of immigration status, which will provide increased clarity and worker flexibility, mobility and protections.

The H-2 visa program allows employers to fill labor gaps by sponsoring guest workers from other countries. It is split into two subcategories: agricultural and non-agricultural labor, or H-2A and H-2B, respectively. While the program is integral to seasonal and agricultural industries, many critics of the program structure say that the laborers’ reliance on their employers under the program provides opportunity for retaliation and abuse, a position supported by a 2015 Government Accountability Office Report. The public comment period will end on Nov. 20, 2023. Read more.

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