September 21, 2011

The Honorable James Lankford
Chairman
Subcommittee on Technology, Information
Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and
Procurement Reform
Washington, D.C. 20515

RE: HR 373

Dear Chairman Lankford:

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) appreciates the amendment to the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) you are offering today and urges support of those particular provisions that will strengthen the analysis and oversight of federal intergovernmental mandates on state and local governments.

UMRA has served as a critical analytical and procedural tool for raising the visibility of intergovernmental partnerships and fiscal federalism. It has helped to shine the light on the effects of federal legislation and regulations on state and local governments as partners in the delivery of program services and benefits. And it has infrequently provided a mechanism to impose procedural points of order on intergovernmental mandates that would potentially increase federal burdens on states and others.

However, UMRA has enduring shortcomings that your amendment corrects. In particular, expanding the scope of reporting requirements to include new conditions of grant aid is essential. NCSL’s members repeatedly point to this exclusion in the underlying statute as one of the law’s major flaws. NCSL is also pleased that your amendment would require identification and description of reasonably foreseeable indirect costs, would expand UMRA’s reporting requirements to independent regulatory agencies and would allow for congressional requests for regulatory “look-back” analyses of existing federal mandates Ongoing and essential efforts to rein in federal deficits and manage the national debt will likely result in  reductions in discretionary and entitlement funding for state-federal partnerships. It is important that those efforts do not result in the imposition of new or expansion of old unfunded or underfunded federal intergovernmental mandates. H.R. 373 is a key component in ensuring that federal policymakers do not burden states with expenditures they cannot afford or that impede economic vitality.

Respectfully,

Representative Jay Kaufman
Massachusetts House of Representatives
Chair, NCSL Budgets and Revenue Committee