Federalism

In the first month of the new single party control of the federal executive and legislative branches, a little known 1996 law called the Congressional Review Act has become one of the most discussed issues. 

Voting on H.J. Res. 66 and H.J. Res. 67 took place Wednesday afternoon, February 15, on the House Floor. These joint resolutions passed to roll back rules set in place in August and December 2016, respectively, by the Department of Labor, or DoL. The DoL rules allowed state and local governments flexibility in creating a marketplace of retirement options for employees of the private sector that otherwise could be interpreted as unallowable by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). If approved by the Senate and signed by the president, the DoL rules will then hold no force or effect and programs could be unallowable under the preemption of ERISA statute.

The Council of State Governments has released its annual listing of the top five issues legislators will face this session in nine key policy areas, including education, workforce development, energy and the environment, federal affairs, fiscal and economic development, health, interstate compacts, transportation, and international affairs.

CSG Director of Federal and International Affairs Andy Karellas and Senior Policy Adviser Jeff Stockdale outline the top five issues in federal affair for the states in 2017, including the presidential transition, strengthening states' roles in federalism, fiscal uncertainty, civic education and intergovernmental relations.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are slowly moving forward with plans to resume use of earmarks, which are being rebranded as congressionally directed spending. The House Rules Committee plans to review the issue in the months ahead and issue a recommendation on whether to continue the current ban on the practice or allow it to resume. 

On February 10th, Education Secretary Besty DeVos issued a letter to Chief State School Officers that addressed a number of ongoing efforts related to the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, and its associated state plans and regulations. The letter is written in response to uncertainty as a result of the White House Chief of Staff’s January 20th memo ordering a freeze to all pending regulations, as well as Congressional efforts to repeal the regulations issued by the Obama Administration.

As President Trump’s Cabinet nominees continue to move through the confirmation process it is encouraging to see ten former state officials among them.  

Early Friday, Feb. 10, Dr. Tom Price was confirmed by the Senate in a 52 to 47 vote as the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Representative from Georgia, an orthopedic surgeon by trade, moved into politics when he first ran for the Georgia State Senate in 1996 and then moved on to Congress in 2004.

“The role of the Department in improving lives means it must carry out its responsibilities with compassion. It also must be efficient, effective, and accountable, as well as willing to partner with...

Today President Trump attended the swearing in of attorney general Jeff Sessions and signed three Executive Orders related to crime. 

State and local governments would not be disappointed if the Supreme Court overturned Chevron v. NRDC (1984). While overturning Chevron isn’t on the table in Coventry Health Care of Missouri v. Nevils, limiting it is. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) asked the Court in its amicus brief to rule that Chevron deference does not apply when an agency is construing the scope of a statute’s preemption provision, absent Congress’s assent.   

In Chevron v. NRDC the Supreme Court held that courts should defer to reasonable agency interpretations of ambiguous statutes. States and local governments generally prefer that courts not defer to federal agency regulations because this deference gives federal agencies a lot of power. 

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