Capitol Corner May 2020

The Senate resumed at the end of April and the House will start back May 11. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that her starting point for next relief package (Phase 4) is up to $1 trillion in aid for states and local governments that allows making up for lost revenues. She and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed that aid should be focused on the losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic and not pension liabilities or other budget shortfalls from the past. “There will be a bill, and it will be expensive,” Pelosi said, calling for funding in other areas, too:
– Another $80 billion for broadband development;
– Infusion of funds for the postal system;
– Expand voting by mail;
– Adding funds for education, public housing, renters’ aid, direct small business grants, hospitals, health care workers, hazard pay, jobless benefits, employee-retention credits, Medicaid, food stamps and student debt relief;
– Another round of cash payments to individuals – perhaps as much as $2,000 per adult; and
Possibly a limited infrastructure package focused on broadband, water access and community health centers.

Achieving bipartisan consensus on the next package(s) could be more difficult. The Senate will wait for the House to act first. Behind-the-scenes bill drafting may lead to a House leadership proposal by mid-May. Lawmakers are expected to approve it this summer.

North Carolina COVID-19 Relief Bills

Last week, the North Carolina General Assembly unanimously passed and Governor Roy Cooper signed into law two important COVID-19 Relief Bills guiding $1.6 billion in relief measures. The swift bi-partisan action provides guidance on funding and policy changes related to public health and safety, education, small business and continuity of government operations. We created a short summary of key points from the NC COVID-19 relief bills, along with links to the full bill documents. We are amending our Federal Action Agenda to include advocacy for changes to federal law that would enable the use of the addition $150 million in the Local Government Coronavirus Relief Reserve for municipalities experiencing revenue shortfall due to the crisis. Centralina also plans to coordinate statewide advocacy efforts with other regional councils.