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.
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.
On Sept. 2-8, a CSG-sponsored delegation of state leaders visited China to discuss regional policy issues and learn about bilateral relations. Over the course of the six-day trip, the delegation met with Chinese officials from the provincial, city and local levels in Beijing, Jinan and Shanghai. Additionally, the delegation met with Chinese nonprofit leaders to discuss cultural and social exchange programs and participated in an international convening of sister cities.
Following the June 23 vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, there are a number of looming economic impacts not only for European nations, but for the states on this side of the Atlantic that sold $56 billion worth of goods to the UK in 2015.
On May 17, President Barack Obama and Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced significant changes as to how employers will determine who is eligible for overtime pay in the future. The regulatory changes are to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and lift the salary threshold used as part of a two-fold overtime eligibility determination from $23,660 to $47,476 a year. According to the administration, this change will affect 4.2 million employees and increase payrolls $1.2 billion annually.
On May 1, Puerto Rico defaulted on a $422 million bond payment to little fanfare. Congress now has a brief window to address the commonwealth’s lack of options before a $2 billion payment is due July 1—a default that would likely not pass so quietly.
International trade directors from more than 35 states participated in meetings and discussions with federal officials, foreign dignitaries and other partners at the State International Development Organizations’, or SIDO’s, Washington Forum in Washington, D.C., the first week of April. SIDO members met with federal officials to discuss implementation of two recent legislative actions, namely the passage of the Small Business Trade Enhancement Act of 2015, or the State Trade Coordination Act, and the reauthorization of the State Trade and Export Promotions, or STEP, program.