Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update

Congressional Updates

House Tax Subcommittee Examines Tax Change Challenged by School Districts and other Local Government Leaders

Earlier this week, the House Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee held a hearing, titled “How Recent Limitations to the SALT Deduction Harm Communities, Schools, First Responders, and Housing Values” that featured six witnesses. Dr. Paul Imhoff, superintendent of the Upper Arlington City School District in suburban Columbus, Ohio, was among the local government witnesses who testified about the cap on the federal state and local tax deduction (SALT) and how it has started to negatively impact their community’s tax bases. Prior to the subcommittee hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation said more than half of the benefits of eliminating the cap would accrue to those earning more than $1 million. Opponents of the cap have argued that it not only suppresses state and local tax revenues, but that it also is regressive. The witnesses’ written statements can be accessed on the committee’s website and the report is available on the Joint Tax Committee website.

 Administration Updates

FCC Publishes A Troubling Notice of Proposed Rule Making  

As reported in last week’s update, on June 13, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking(NPRM) that could lead to adoption of an aggregate cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF) and a combined program level cap for the E-rate and Rural Health Care programs. These administrative changes could force the E-rate and the three other USF programs to compete with each other for annual funding.

NSBA vigorously opposes the FCC’s proposed changes to the USF and has already taken several steps to stop the proceeding. We recently joined our  Education and Library Networks Coalition (EdLiNC) partners in a letter to the FCC urging the agency to extend the public comment period until later in the year, so that the education community’s response is not muted by the summer break. We also worked with EdLiNC to secure House language in the FCC’s fiscal year 2020 appropriation that would prevent the agency from completing the rulemaking. We do not yet know if the Senate will adopt the language.

Additionally, we are preparing a number of action items planned to mobilize around this issue. The efforts include drafting formal comments from NSBA; working with EdLiNC members to draft joint comments; organizing a grassroots campaign for states and district board members to submit comments, including providing advocacy bullets and a simple “how to” instruction one pager on the process for submitting comments to the FCC; and leading efforts in various coalitions that support NSBA’s position on the issue. The Center for Public Education has also started research for a future report into the broader issue around broadband access and the equity issues associated with it.

 Department of Education Announces SERVE Grants

The Department of Education announced a $1.25 million Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant for the Bay District Schools in Florida. The grant will support their recovery efforts following Hurricane Michael. The district will use the funding to provide students with mental health services, including hiring multiple social workers and one paraprofessional for each school in the district.

 Department of Education Invites Applications for Mental Health Services Grants

This week, the Department of Education invited school districts to seek funding through the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program. The grants support innovative partnerships that will train school-based mental health services providers for employment in schools and LEAs. The goal is to expand the number of high-quality, trained providers in schools served by high-need LEAs. The estimated available funds for this program total $15,000,000 and are contingent upon the availability of funds and quality of applications. Applications are due by August 5, 2019 and further information is available here.

Notable New K-12 Bills

  • H.R.3513To support educational entities in fully implementing title IX and reducing and preventing sex discrimination in all areas of education, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Matsui, Doris O. [D-CA-6]
  • H.R.3492To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to make a permanent program for the procurement of unprocessed fruits and vegetables to provide healthier school meals, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Welch, Peter [D-VT-At Large]
  • H.R.3444To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to require the Secretary of Agriculture to make loan guarantees and grants to finance certain improvements to school lunch facilities, to train school food service personnel, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. DeSaulnier, Mark [D-CA-11]
  • H.R.3378Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2019 Sponsor:Rep. Davis, Susan A. [D-CA-53]

About mnmsba

The Minnesota School Boards Association, a leading advocate for public education, supports, promotes and strengthens the work of public school boards.
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