Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Newsletter is an NCSL electronic newsletter for Committee members and interested staff. This newsletter provides quarterly updates and links to the latest research and news highlights related to law, criminal justice and public safety.
The website and registration for NCSL’s annual Legislative Summit are now live. The Summit will be held July 30-Aug. 2 in Los Angeles, Calif. For registration and more information, visit the website. Check out the Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee specific agenda. The website and agenda are updated frequently as we approach the Summit.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 was signed by President Donald Trump on March 23, and includes an amendment introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that prevents the Department of Justice from using federal funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. This language has existed in appropriations legislation since the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was passed in 2014, and its inclusion in the 2018 spending package ensures the provision’s reauthorization. NCSL issued a letter in support of the amendment in January. For more information on this and on the passage of the first-ever recreational marijuana legalization enactment via state legislature, see NCSL’s blog post.
On March 9, NCSL issued comments to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on the draft National Mitigation Investment Strategy (NMIS). The NMIS is meant to be a roadmap for disaster mitigation coordination between federal, state, and local governments as well as the private and nonprofit sectors. In the comments, NCSL emphasizes that states have competing priorities for limited funding and there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to disaster mitigation. The comments note the ways states facing extensive risk are already investing in mitigation initiatives, pointing to enacted and pending legislation in California, Florida, Illinois, and South Carolina. NCSL encourages the administration to maintain and expand its efforts to include states in any attempt to reform standards, policies, and procedures. NCSL agrees with FEMA’s long-standing goal of making funds distribution easier for states, and cautions against cost-shifts from federal to state governments as part of the final NMIS draft.
S. 2135, the Fix NICS Act of 2017, supported by NCSL, was signed by the president as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. The bipartisan Fix NICS Act amends the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act by requiring all federal agencies and courts to certify whether they have provided any disqualifying records of people prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It also amends the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 to provide incentives to states that upload mental health and criminal history records to the NICS system. The incentives included are waivers of grant match requirements under the National Criminal History Improvement Program. The administration has also come out in favor of this legislation. For details on the bill’s contents, see NCSL’s November blog post.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that passed in 2002 required states to make improvements to their voting systems. Included in that measure was an authorization of $3.2 billion dollars to be distributed to states over three years to assist in these improvements. Congress appropriated all but $380 million of that amount, but this final sum is now included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. NCSL has consistently requested that Congress appropriate these remaining funds and has an election reform policy supporting the full funding of HAVA.
The Senate Homeland Security Committee passed HR 2825 on March 7, which would reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the first time since its inception in 2002. The House passed its version of the legislation in July 2017. The Senate version outlines a schedule for regular DHS reauthorizations and would rename and restructure the National Protection and Programs Directorate as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The Agency’s director would report directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the bill would designate assistant directors that each oversee cyber and infrastructure security. The Agency would partner with industry sectors, academia, and other federal agencies to advance research and development in advanced encryption, cyber defense technologies, and insider threat monitoring methodologies. The bill also emphasizes information sharing, encouraging DHS to increase dissemination of unclassified cyber threat details to state, local and tribal governments. For more information, see NCSL’s blog post on the legislation.
On April 17 the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in South Dakota v. Wayfair. In this case the Supreme Court will decide whether to allow states to require out-of-state vendors to collect sales tax. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of South Dakota, states and local governments will be able to collect billions of dollars more in sales tax annually. Join Tillman Breckenridge and Bailey Glasser, who wrote the State and Local Legal Center amicus brief in this case, in a discussion about how we got here and what happened at oral argument.
Date: April 17
Time: 1 p.m. ET.
View the latest edition of NCSL’s Pretrial Quarterly newsletter for recent pretrial policy developments.
100 Resilient Communities Releases Federal Policy Guidelines (March 14)
NCSL LegisBrief: Criminal Justice Reform on the Federal Level (March 1)
DOJ Actions to Improve School Security (March 13)
Carrying Firearms in K-12 Schools: A Policy Snapshot (March 8)
NCSL Joins SLLC Supreme Court Amicus Brief in Remote Sales Tax Case (March 6)
Should You Be Able to Wear Your “MAGA” Or “Resist” Hat at The Polls? (Feb. 28)
Second Court Orders Trump Administration to Maintain DACA (Feb. 21)