December Public Policy Update: Stay Current on Tax Reform; Legislative Session Preview

The final few weeks of 2017 have seen a lot of action on issues impacting nonprofit organizations. Below is a brief roundup of the key issues that your organization should be aware of:

Stay Up to Date on Federal Tax Reform

Over the last several weeks, Washington Nonprofits has been advocating for the nonprofit sector’s interests in the federal tax reform debate. The current House and Senate tax reform proposals have the potential to significantly damage the nonprofit sector due to the projected negative impact on charitable giving. Worse, the House proposal threatens to expose nonprofits to partisan politics by repealing the Johnson Amendment, a vital protection in the current tax code that keeps nonprofits nonpartisan. Click here for a tax reform summary from the National Council of Nonprofits.

We are actively working to inform Washington State’s federal delegation about the negative impact of the proposals. We’ve emailed several key action alerts to which many of you responded; issued press releases and spoke with the press; submitted letters to the editor that were published in the Spokesman-Review and The Columbian; and worked with our partners, such as Habitat for Humanity-Spokane, to write letters in support of retaining the Johnson Amendment. We are also pleased to see organizations, such as the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, submitting op-eds to local media regarding tax reform.

As tax reform continues to weave its way through Congress, you can stay current by subscribing to Washington Nonprofits’ Public Policy and Advocacy email list and following @WANonprofits, @NatlCouncilNPs, and @IndSector on Twitter. If you have questions or concerns about tax reform, please feel free to email us.

Washington State Legislature Convenes January 8th

The Washington State Legislature will convene on January 8th for the start of its 60-day short session in 2018. On the agenda will likely be a resolution to the capital budget, Hirst water rights decision, and the most the recent McCleary public school funding decision. In addition to those major issues, a number of bills have been pre-filed that may be of interest to nonprofit organizations. The Spokesman-Review’s Jim Camden highlighted several major bills in his recent column. Washington Nonprofits will continue to provide updates on the forthcoming 2018 legislative session.

Join Us for Our Policy Advisory Call on January 9th

Please join us as we discuss current policy issues impacting the nonprofit sector, both nationally and in Washington State.Our January call will cover updating the 2018 Washington State legislative session, federal tax reform, and other key issues. We will also use the call to get your feedback on how Washington Nonprofits can design its public policy work in 2018 to benefit your organization. The call’s agenda will be distributed prior to the call. Please contact us with questions. Click here to register.

New House Proposal Jeopardizes Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program’s Future

Many nonprofit employees are enrolled in the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program as a way to reduce their student loan burden. However, the program’s availability to future borrowers is uncertain due to a provision in the latest higher education proposal unveiled by House Republicans. Click here to read an analysis from The Washington Post. The loss of this program could harm the nonprofit sector’s ability to recruit and retain talented employees. Washington Nonprofits will continue to provide updates as this issue develops.

Plan for NFF State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey

The Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) regularly collects data about nonprofits’ financial health, and related operational issues. The State of the Sector Survey is a widely watched barometer of the health and challenges of nonprofit organizations and the communities we all serve. Please help shine a light on the financial dynamics of our sector by setting aside just 20-30 minutes between January 17 and February 21 to complete the Survey. We will share additional information on the survey as it becomes available.

December Advocacy Tip: Send Your Legislators a Holiday Greeting

During a few of our recent legislative visits, elected officials and their staff lamented that they do not hear from nonprofits enough throughout the year. Sending a holiday card to your elected officials is an easy and optimistic way to communicate with them that may even give you an opening for a future meeting during the new year. You may want to include a personalized note from the Executive Director or the Board Chair in addition to the card’s basic greeting. The card may also be an excellent vehicle for delivering any annual report that you’ve compiled showing your impact in the community. Even if you just send a basic card with a generic greeting (we recommend doing more than this), it still shows that you took the time to reach out to the official.

Bonus Tip: If your organization is having a year-end reception, be sure to invite your elected officials and their staff. Welcoming an elected official at your event is a great way to build their familiarity with your organization and deepen your relationship with the official. Even if the official or a staff member is unable to attend, they will still appreciate the invitation and it may open up an opportunity for a future meeting or site visit with the official.

 

About David Streeter 13 Articles
David Streeter is Washington Nonprofits’ Director of Public Policy and Advocacy.