Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

At the State Capitol: Nursing Home Reform

All state nursing home reform bills in the PROTECT package have passed their house of origin, including AARP’s priority bill, SB 650, which requires nursing homes to be transparent regarding how they spend state funds intended to support patient care.  SB 650 and the rest of the bills in the PROTECT package now move on to the next chamber of the Legislature, where they will be heard in committee, and where AARP will continue to advocate for their passage.  By the time you read this, SB 650 will have been heard in the next chamber.

In Washington DC: The (Ambitious) American Jobs Plan

President Biden believes that we must invest in our country and in our people, creating good-paying union jobs, tackling the climate crisis, and growing the economy sustainably, and equitably for decades to come. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework is a critical step in accomplishing these objectives.

Everything, from clean driving cars and buses to reduce emissions and clean drinking water by getting rid of lead pipes completely, to connecting everyone to reliable high-speed internet and upgrading our power infrastructure will create lots of good-paying union jobs and advance environmental justice. There’s more: Roads, bridges and public transportation, airports, ports and waterways — the list goes on.

So far, the Republicans and Democrats have agreed on a framework for this $973 billion infrastructure bill, and President Biden has given it his support. While the American Rescue Plan (all those stimulus payments) is changing the course of the pandemic and delivering relief for working families, President Biden believes this is no time to build back to the way things were. This is the moment to reimagine and rebuild a new economy. The American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China. Public domestic investment as a share of the economy has fallen by more than 40 percent since the 1960s. The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race.

The question is:  Who will pay for all this?  The rich?  The corporations?  The idea here is to equalize everything and everyone by reducing the IRS tax gap, redirecting unused unemployment insurance relief funds, repurposing unused relief funds from 2020 emergency relief legislation, allowing state and local investment in broadband infrastructure, and allowing states to sell or purchase unused toll credits for infrastructure.

Reinstating Superfund fees for chemicals and 5G spectrum auction proceeds as well as strategic petroleum reserve sales are slated to pay for this…  And don’t forget public-private partnerships, private activity bonds, direct pay bonds, and asset recycling for infrastructure investment.