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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act: History, Impact, and Issues - R40957

Robert Jay Dilger
Senior Specialist in American National Government

Richard S. Beth
Specialist on Congress and the Legislative Process

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) culminated years of effort by state and local government officials and business interests to control, if not eliminate, the imposition of unfunded intergovernmental and private-sector federal mandates. Advocates argued the statute was needed to forestall federal legislation and regulations that imposed obligations on state and local governments or businesses that resulted in higher costs and inefficiencies. Opponents argued that federal mandates may be necessary to achieve national objectives in areas where voluntary action by state and local governments and business failed to achieve desired results.

UMRA provides a framework for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to estimate the direct costs of mandates in legislative proposals to state and local governments and to the private sector, and for issuing agencies to estimate the direct costs of mandates in proposed regulations to regulated entities. Aside from these informational requirements, UMRA controls the imposition of mandates only through a procedural mechanism allowing Congress to decline to consider unfunded intergovernmental mandates in proposed legislation if they are estimated to cost more than specified threshold amounts. UMRA applies to any provision in legislation, statute, or regulation that would impose an enforceable duty upon state and local governments or the private sector. It does not apply to conditions of federal assistance; duties stemming from participation in voluntary federal programs; rules issued by independent regulatory agencies; rules issued without a general notice of proposed rulemaking; and rules and legislative provisions that cover individual constitutional rights, discrimination, emergency assistance, grant accounting and auditing procedures, national security, treaty obligations, and certain elements of Social Security.

State and local government officials argue that UMRA has restrained the growth of unfunded federal mandates, but that its coverage should be broadened, with special consideration given to including conditions of federal financial assistance. During the 112
th Congress, H.R. 4078, the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act: Title IV, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2012, passed by the House on July 26, 2012, would have broadened UMRA’s coverage to include both direct and indirect costs, such as foregone profits and costs passed onto consumers, and, when requested by the chair or ranking Member of a committee, the prospective costs of legislation that would change conditions of federal financial assistance. The UMRA provisions in the bill (reintroduced as H.R. 899, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2013, during the 113th Congress), as well as several other bills considered during the 112th Congress, would have made private-sector mandates subject to a substantive point of order and would have removed UMRA’s exemption for rules issued by most independent agencies. Other organizations have argued that UMRA’s coverage should be maintained or reinforced by adding exclusions for mandates regarding public health, safety, workers’ rights, environmental protection, and the disabled.

This report examines debates over what constitutes an unfunded federal mandate and UMRA’s implementation. It focuses on UMRA’s requirement that CBO issue written cost estimate statements for federal mandates in legislation, its procedures for raising points of order in the House and Senate concerning unfunded federal mandates in legislation, and its requirement that federal agencies prepare written cost estimate statements for federal mandates in rules. It also assesses UMRA’s impact on federal mandates and arguments concerning UMRA’s future, focusing on UMRA’s definitions, exclusions, and exceptions that currently exempt many federal actions with potentially significant financial impacts on nonfederal entities. An examination of the rise of unfunded federal mandates as a national issue and a summary of UMRA’s legislative history are provided in Appendix A. Citations to UMRA points of order raised in the House and Senate are provided in Appendix B.

Date of Report: December 12, 2013
Number of Pages: 57
Order Number: R40957
Price: $29.95

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Takings Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court: A Chronology - 97-122

Robert Meltz
Legislative Attorney

This report is a reverse chronological listing of U.S. Supreme Court decisions addressing claims that a government entity has “taken” private property, as that term is used in the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Takings Clause states: “[N]or shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” A scattering of related, substantive due process decisions is also included.

Under the Takings Clause, courts allow two distinct types of suit. Condemnation (also “formal condemnation”) occurs when a government or private entity formally invokes its power of eminent domain by filing suit to take a specified property, upon payment to the owner of just compensation. By contrast, a taking action (also “inverse condemnation”)—our topic here—is the procedural reverse. It is a suit by a property holder against the government, claiming that government conduct has effectively taken the property notwithstanding that the government has not filed a formal condemnation suit. A typical taking action complains of severe regulation of land use, though the Takings Clause reaches all species of property, real and personal, tangible and intangible. The taking action generally demands that the government compensate the property owner, just as when government formally exercises eminent domain.

Finding the line between government interferences with property that are takings and those that are not has occupied the Supreme Court in most of the 100-plus decisions compiled here. The Supreme Court’s decisions in these takings actions reach back to 1870, and are divided in this report into three periods.

The modern period, 1978 to the present, has seen the Court settle into a taxonomy of four fundamental types of takings—total regulatory takings, partial regulatory takings, physical takings, and exaction takings. The Court in this period also has sought to develop criteria for these four types, and to set out ripeness standards and clarify the required remedy. In the preceding period, 1922 to 1978, the Court first announced the regulatory taking concept—the notion that government regulation alone, without appropriation or physical invasion of property, may be a taking if sufficiently severe. During this time, however, it proffered little by way of regulatory takings criteria, continuing rather its earlier focus on appropriations and physical occupations. In the earliest period of takings law, 1870 to 1922, the Court saw the Takings Clause as protecting property owners only from appropriations and physical invasions, two forms of government interference with property seen by the Court as most functionally similar to an outright condemnation of property. During this infancy of takings law, regulatory restrictions were tested under other, non-takings theories, such as whether they were within a state’s police power, and were generally upheld.

The three takings cases decided by the Supreme Court during its 2012-2013 term attest to the Court’s continuing interest in the takings issue.

Date of Report: December 9, 2013
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: 97-122
Price: $29.95

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Women in the United States Congress, 1917-2013: Biographical and Committee Assignment Information, and Listings by State and Congress - RL30261

Jennifer E. Manning
Information Research Specialist

Ida A. Brudnick
Specialist on the Congress

One hundred two women currently serve in the 113
th Congress: 82 in the House (63 Democrats and 19 Republicans) and 20 in the Senate (16 Democrats and 4 Republicans). One hundred one women were initially sworn in to the 113th Congress, one female Republican House Member has since resigned, and two Democratic House Members have been elected. This is higher than the previous record number of 95 women who were initially elected to the 111th Congress.

The first woman elected to Congress was Representative Jeannette Rankin (R-MT, 1917-1919, 1941-1943). The first woman to serve in the Senate was Rebecca Latimer Felton (D-GA). She was appointed in 1922 and served for only one day.

A total of 298 women have served in Congress, 194 Democrats and 104 Republicans. Of these women, 254 (165 Democrats, 89 Republicans) have served only in the House of Representatives; 34 (21 Democrats, 13 Republicans) have served only in the Senate; and 10 (8 Democrats, 2 Republicans) have served in both houses. These figures include four non-voting Delegates, one each from Guam, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of the 44 women who have served in the Senate, 14 were first appointed and 5 were first elected to fill unexpired terms.

A total of 33 African American women have served in Congress (1 in the Senate, 32 in the House), including 17 serving in the 113
th Congress. Ten Hispanic women have been elected to the House; nine serve in the 113th Congress. Nine Asian Pacific American women have served in the Congress (8 in the House, 1 in both the House and Senate), including seven in the 113th Congress. Nineteen women in the House, and 10 women in the Senate, have chaired committees. In the 113th Congress, one woman chairs a House committee, and five women chair Senate committees, with one female Senator chairing two committees.

This report includes biographical information, including the names, committee assignments, dates of service, listings by Congress and state, and (for Representatives) congressional districts of the 297 women who have served in Congress. It will be updated when there are relevant changes in the makeup of Congress.

For additional information, including a discussion of the impact of women in Congress as well as historical information, including the number and percentage of women in Congress over time, data on entry to Congress, comparisons to international and state legislatures, tenure, firsts for women in Congress, women in leadership, and African American and Asian Pacific American women in Congress, see CRS Report R43244,
Women in the United States Congress: Historical Overview, Tables, and Discussion, by Jennifer E. Manning, Colleen J. Shogan, and Ida A. Brudnick.

Date of Report: December 16, 2013
Number of Pages: 107
Order Number: RL30261
Price: $29.95

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