May Public Policy Update: Possible Regulations to Keep Immigrants from Using Nonprofit Services; Washington State Considers Overtime Pay Rule Updates

The month of May has seen significant developments on public policies impacting nonprofit organizations. Read on to learn about key items relevant to the nonprofit sector.

May 30 Public Policy Call

Please join us as we discuss current policy issues impacting the nonprofit sector, both nationally and in Washington State. Click here to register and here to download the agenda.

What Do You Want Our Congressional Delegation to Know?

Washington Nonprofits’ Director of Public Policy and Advocacy David Streeter will be traveling to Washington, DC in early June to participate in the National Council of Nonprofits’ Annual Confab. As part of the conference, David will be visiting Capitol Hill for Nonprofit Lobby Day. Issues on the agenda for Lobby Day include:

  • Nonprofit Nonpartisanship (Johnson Amendment)
  • Effects of the New Tax Law (technical corrections and UBIT)
  • Non-Itemizer (Universal) Deduction
  • Census 2020
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness

To help David prepare, please consider and submit an answer to this question:

What messages or information would you like David to convey to our state’s congressional delegation? 

Please make sure to email your responses to David before May 31, 2018.

Video: Why Does the Census Matter to Nonprofits?

The federal government is currently making preparations for the constitutionally required 2020 Census. With nearly $14 billion in federal funds at stake for Washington State, Washington Nonprofits is calling on Congress to do what it takes to ensure an accurate count in 2020. Watch the video to learn why the census matters what you can do to help ensure an accurate count.

Our video doesn’t address another important aspect of the 2020 Census, failure to include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.  You can learn more about this issue here.

If you are feeling inspired by the video and want to send a message to Congress, here are two ways to take action. First, you can call congress to deliver this message:

Please support full funding for the 2020 U.S. Census and exclude the citizenship question. This will ensure our state’s communities receive their fair share of federal resources and that nonprofits can effectively serve their constituents.

Contact Information:

  • Senator Maria Cantwell: (202) 224-3441
  • Senator Patty Murray: (202) 224-2621
  • Congressional Switchboard to be Directed to Your Representative: (202) 225-3121

We also developed a postcard template that you can fill out and send to Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator Patty Murray, and your Representative. To use the postcard template:

  1. Download the template here.
  2. Print the postcard onto cardstock OR print the postcard on regular paper and glue it to an index card or postcard.
  3. Find mailing address information for our Senators here.
  4. Find mailing address information for your Representative here.
  5. Affix postage and mail the postcard.

Our representatives in Congress need to hear from nonprofits so that the Census will be fully funded and the proposed citizenship question excluded. Our collective advocacy will help ensure an accurate count and ensure that Washington’s communities receive their fair share of federal resources.

Trump Administration Considering Expansion of “Public Charge” Criteria for Immigrants

Under current immigration regulations, immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship who use a specific set of public support programs are deemed a “public charge.” This is a negative classification that typically leads to a denial of their citizenship request as well as possible denial of entry into the U.S. or deportation. The Trump Administration has signaled its intent to expand the list of services to include many programs and services that are administered by nonprofit organizations. According to CLASP, the programs impacted could include:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Non-emergency Medicaid
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Subsidies provided through the Affordable Care Act
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Housing assistance, such as Section 8 housing vouchers
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Comparable state and local programs

The effect of such a change is that many immigrants will cease to use those programs because they are fearful of being deemed a “public charge.” In fact, we’ve heard from several Washington Nonprofits members that this effect is already happening based on the uncertainty surrounding the regulations.

The Trump Administration’s rules are likely to be released in July 2018 and Washington Nonprofits will respond accordingly. In the meantime, you can learn more about the possible changes by downloading the fact sheet here. Additionally, our friends at the Children’s Alliance are circulating a petition against the possible changes that you can sign here.

New Trump Executive Order Regarding Faith-Based Nonprofits

On May 3, 2018, President Donald Trump issued an executive orderimpacting faith-based nonprofit organizations. According to USA Today:

The executive order repeals Obama administration rules limiting the ability of groups getting federal funds to preach to those they serve. Under the Trump order, faith-based groups will no longer have to refer beneficiaries to alternative programs if they object to the religious teachings.

Additional reporting on the executive order is available from Religion News Service.

WA Considering Updates to Executive, Administrative, and Professional Exemptions to Minimum Wage Act

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industry is working on an update to the state’s Minimum Wage Act’s overtime regulations. The intent of the proposed update is to raise the exemption threshold for executive, administrative, and professional employees so that more employees will be eligible for overtime pay.

According to the Department of Labor and Industry:

Most employees covered by the Washington Minimum Wage Act (MWA) must be provided a minimum wage (currently $11.50 per hour), overtime for working above forty hours in a seven-day workweek, and paid sick leave. The MWA exempts certain kinds of covered employees from its requirements, including bona fide Executive, Administrative, and Professional (“EAP”) workers, as well as Outside Salespersons. … The EAP exemptionswere largely intended to exempt “white collar” workers who often enjoy more economic security and relative bargaining power than lower wage earners. The department last updated its rules on the EAP exemptions in 1976. The 1976 rules require most workers to meet a duties test and be paid a minimum salary of at least $250/week to qualify for these exemptions, which equates to a minimum yearly salary of $13,000. Because salary levels have not been updated, the rules governing these exemptions are out of date, and the duties tests may not accurately reflect current expectations of exempt professionals. As a result, the department is initiating rulemaking to update these rules.

Washington Nonprofits submitted comments to the rulemaking process that are available to download here. The next round of public comments closes May 29, 2018. If your organization would like to learn more and submit feedback to inform the rulemaking process, you can do so here.

New Universal Deduction Bill Proposed in U.S. House

A new bipartisan bill, H.R. 5771, was introduced in the U.S. House on May 10, 2018 that would provide a charitable deduction to all taxpayers regardless of whether they itemize their tax return. This is an important development because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Actpassed at the end of 2017 significantly limited the number of taxpayers eligible to receive a tax deduction for their charitable contributions. The bill, introduced by Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX), is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee and has no additional sponsors beyond Smith and Cuellar. However, you can help it gain cosponsors by calling your Representative and asking them to cosponsor the bill. Click hereto find your Representative. We will also provide updates and opportunities for action during the summer so that we can help elevate this issue in Congress.

Advocacy Tip: Meet Your Regulators

Not every policy challenge facing a nonprofit needs a fix through Congress, the legislature, or a local council. Instead, nonprofits can work directly with regulatory agencies to achieve policy changes, which can be just as effective as working through a legislative body. The possible benefits of developing relationships with your regulators include:

  • Your organization will be “at the table” to influence regulations;
  • Your organization will have established lines of communications with government agencies; and
  • Your organization can use its relationships to cultivate advocates within the agencies that can help you with your work or a funding request.

As an example, Washington Nonprofits’ Executive Director Laura Pierce and Director of Public Policy and Advocacy David Streeter visited Olympia to meet with several state agencies that oversee different aspects of nonprofit operations. Laura and David met with staff from the Liquor and Cannabis Board and the Gambling Commission to discuss our new liquor and gambling toolkit; the Public Disclosure Commission to discuss the rulemaking process for implementing the DISCLOSE Act; the Secretary of State’s office to discuss our partnership; and the Department of Labor and Industry to learn about workplace regulations for all employers in Washington State.

These types of meetings and relationships are a major factor in Washington Nonprofits’ success as a state association. As your organization looks for opportunities to advance your advocacy, make sure building relationships with your regulators is a priority. If you need advice on how to get started with this, feel free to contact us.

Public Disclosure Commission Now Hiring

The Public Disclosure Commission is currently seeking a Senior Software Developer/Data Specialist to help the agency find new ways to serve the public. Click here to learn more about the position.