November Public Policy Update

The push to the end of the 2017 calendar year has seen lots of action on public policies impactingnonprofit organizations. Below is a round up of issues for your organization to be aware of. If there are other issues impacting your organization, or you would like to discuss these items further, please feel free to email Washington Nonprofits’ Director of Public Policy and Advocacy David Streeter.

Federal Tax Reform: House Bill Could Dramatically Alter Nonprofit Operations, Missions

The House Ways and Means Committee advanced its tax reform bill through the committee process. The bill contains two key provisions that could be devastating to nonprofits:

  • Reducing the Number of Itemizers Without Including a Universal Charitable Deduction: The House tax plan doubles the standard deduction for taxpayers, which reduces the number of taxpayers who itemize from 30% to about 5%. If the number of itemizers is decreased, charitable giving will decline by an estimated $13 billion. We support the creation of a Universal Deduction so that all taxpayers would receive a deduction for charitable contributions, which would restore the incentive for giving and expand who can participate.
  • Weakening the Johnson Amendment: The Johnson Amendment mandates tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organizations to remain nonpartisan, which enables nonprofits to focus on their missions instead of politics. There is currently a proposal in the House tax reform bill to allow nonprofits and religious institutions to endorse candidates. This will likely result in massive political spending, expansion of corruption in the 501(c)(3) space, and erosion of the public’s trust in community serving nonprofits. Efforts to remove this provision in committee were unsuccessful to date, but we continue to lobby on this issue. We also published a letter in the Spokane Spokesman-Review defending the Johnson Amendment that can be read here.
  • Other Provisions Impacting Nonprofits: The National Council of Nonprofits published a roundup of other tax reform provisions impacting nonprofits and philanthropy, including the repeal of the Estate Tax and changes to the Unrelated Business Income Tax, Foundation Excise Tax, and Executive Compensation rules for tax-exempt organizations.

What You Can Do: This week is a crucial week for tax reform. The House version of the bill cleared the Ways and Means Committee last week and the Senate version is currently being debated in the Senate Finance Committee. Before it’s too late, please take the following actions.

1. Please review the comparison of the two tax reform bills and contact Senator Maria Cantwell at (202) 224-3441 to let her know how tax reform impacts your organization and the people you serve. You can also use the script and tweet below:

“I am calling to urge Senator Cantwell to protect charitable giving in the Senate tax reform bill. The current proposal is projected to decrease charitable contributions. However, Senator Cantwell can support nonprofits by including a universal, non-itemizer tax deduction for charitable giving. This will incentivize giving by enabling all Americans to benefit from supporting the work of nonprofits in their communities. Thank you!”

. @SenatorCantwell: Please protect #nonprofits in #taxreform by adding a universal charitable deduction for all taxpayers

2. Washington Nonprofits joins the National Council of Nonprofits and the Council on Foundations in opposing the House tax reform bill. Please call your Representative and urge them to vote no using this script (find contact information here):

“I am calling to urge [Your Representative] to vote no on H.R. 1, the House’s tax reform bill. The bill is bad for nonprofit organizations because it is projected to reduce charitable giving and politicizes the nonprofit sector by repealing the Johnson Amendment. [Your Representative] can support the work of nonprofits in our district by voting no on H.R. 1. Thank you.”

In addition to calling, you can send this tweet (find your Representative’s Twitter handle here):

. [@ Your Representative]: House #TaxReform Bill hurts charitable giving & politicizes #nonprofits. Please vote NO on HR 1 to protect #nonprofits.

Election 2017: Washington State Senate Flips

Democrats are poised to gain control of the Washington State Senate following the election of Manka Dhingra to serve as the senator for the 45th legislative district. (Final election results will be certified by the Secretary of State on December 1, 2017). It is expected that once the results are officially certified, the Senate will move to resolve the capital budget delay, Hirst decision, and other key issues left over from the 2017 legislative session. Click here to review full results from the 2017 election.

Washington State Capital Budget: Share Your Story

Washington State’s capital budget is currently delayed. If your organization is impacted by the delay, please email David Streeter to share your story. We want to hear from you on this important issue.

Committee Days in Olympia

Committee hearings are scheduled in Olympia during the week of November 13-17, 2017. If a particular hearing interests your organization, do try to send a representative to testify or submit testimony. Instructions for testifying in-person or through written testimony are available here. The full committee schedule and agenda listing is available here, but key hearings that may be of interest to Washington Nonprofits members include:

      • November 13 at 10:00 AM: Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee
      • November 13 at 3:30 PM: Senate Health Care Committee
      • November 14 at 8:00 AM: Senate Higher Education Committee
      • November 14 at 8:00 AM: Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee
      • November 14 at 1:30 PM: Senate Human Services, Mental Health, and Housing Committee
      • November 15 at 9:00 AM: Senate Local Government Committee
      • November 15 at 10:00 AM: House Early Learning and Human Services Committee
      • November 15 at 1:00 PM: Joint Select Committee on Health Care Oversight
      • November 15 at 3:30 PM: Children’s Legislative Oversight Committee
      • November 16 at 8:00 AM: House Human Services and Early Learning Committee
      • November 16 at 8:00 AM: House Health Care and Wellness Committee
      • November 16 at 8:00 AM: House Higher Education Committee
      • November 16 at 1:30 PM: House Education Committee
      • November 16 at 1:30 PM: House Environment Committee
      • November 16 at 1:30 PM: House Public Safety Committee
      • November 16 at 3:30 PM: House Appropriations Committee
      • November 17 at 8:00 AM: House Capital Budget Committee
      • November 17 at 10:00 AM: House Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs Committee
      • November 17 at 10:00 AM: House Judiciary Committee
      • November 17 at 10:00 AM: House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee

November Advocacy Tip: Review the PDC’s Lobbying Disclosure Requirements Before the Legislative Session

As the 2018 legislative session in Olympia draws closer, it is important for nonprofits to understand Washington State’s lobbying rules. Organizations lobbying the legislature or state agencies are required to register with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission and report on their lobbying activities each month. Circumstances are different by organization, so it is best for your organization to review the registration and exemption criteria, determine what requirements apply, and take the necessary steps to be compliant with state disclosure laws. Visit www.pdc.wa.gov or call 1(877) 601-2828 to learn more. Also, stay tuned, as we hope to announce a webinar on this topic shortly.

Nonprofit Discount for 2017 Re-Wire Policy Conference on December 12th

Washington Nonprofits is pleased to sponsor this year’s Re-Wire Public Policy Conference and offer a 20% registration discount to nonprofits! The Re-Wire Public Policy Conference is a non-partisan, policy agnostic platform for civil, civic discourse on policy, politics, and political economy. Re-Wire’s purpose is to create a gathering, a physical space where the most important policy makers, opinion shapers, nonprofit leaders, and corporate actors can gather to network, discuss solutions, and foster trust. The topical agenda is divided into four tracks: Governing in Washington State, Dialogue on Economic Issues, The Connection Between Culture and Politics, and The Policy Issues Ahead in 2018. The conference is a great opportunity for your organization to learn about key public policy issues shaping our state while building new cross-sector partnerships. Nonprofits can use the promo code WANP20 to receive 20% off the ticket price. Visit the Re-Wire website to learn more and register.

Upcoming Town Halls and Events

Town halls and other public events are great opportunities to connect with your legislators. Below is a list of upcoming events and town halls hosted by elected officials. You can find out when your elected officials are hosting events by subscribing to their email list and following them on social media.

WHAT: U.S. Representative Denny Heck (D-WA) Facebook Town Hall

WHEN: November 17, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Click here for information. 

WHAT: U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) Senior Symposium

WHEN: November 17, 2017 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM

WHERE: Moses Lake Senior Center, 608 Third Avenue, Moses Lake, WA 98837

Click here for information.

WHAT: U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene Town Halls

WHEN: November 18, 2017

WHERE: Multiple locations in Representative DelBene’s district

Click here for information.

WHAT: U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) Constituent Services Community Outreach

WHEN: Dates in November and December

WHERE: Multiple locations in Representative Smith’s district

Click here for information.

WHAT: State Representative Laurie Jinkins Drop In Office Hours

WHEN: Dates in November and December

WHERE: Multiple locations in Representative Jinkins’ district

Click here for information.

WHAT: 24th Legislative District Town Hall Series

WHEN: Dates in December

WHERE: Multiple locations in the 24th Legislative District

Click here for information.