2006 Year-End Public Policy Update
As was widely predicted in the media, the November 2006 elections resulted in a wave of support for Democrats at the federal level. The Democrats gained enough seats in the election to take majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Although this change in political control is significant in potential impact for some national policies related to defense, trade, energy and taxation, it is not clear what the changes will mean for the nonprofit sector.
None at this time. However, if you have contacts/relationships with any of the new members of congress, please let us know.
Prior to Election Day, the AFP PAC Board approved contributions to the following candidates based upon their support for the nonprofit sector or because of their leadership positions:
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS)
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA)
Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL)
Each of these candidates won their election with the notable exceptions of Sen. Santorum and Rep. Shaw.
Sen. Santorum, the leading legislative champion for the nonprofit sector in Congress, was defeated and will be departing—it was largely his influence that led to the inclusion of the IRA Rollover provision in this year’s pension reform act. He also prevented many so-called charitable reforms from being enacted. The loss of this strong supporter of the charitable sector will have a major impact on the sector’s public policy efforts.
Rep. Harold Ford (D-TN), who had been supportive of the nonprofit sector while he served in the House, lost his campaign for a Senate seat and, therefore, will not be part of the next Congress.
Rep. Rangel likely will be the new chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Mr. Rangel is not well known to many in the nonprofit sector so it is difficult to predict his agenda with regard to our sector.
In the Senate, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) will see his chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee switch over to Sen. Baucus. However, Sen. Grassley will still have a strong voice and is likely to continue to push his charitable reforms. However, Sen. Baucus will probably have other priorities related to energy, financial institutions, and the alternative minimum tax on his tax agenda.
In the next session of Congress, AFP will work to make permanent the charitable giving incentives incorporated into the Pension Protection Act of 2006. In addition, we will seek to make the IRA Rollover provision a better opportunity for more donors. We will also work tirelessly to fight so-called reform measures that are needlessly burdensome to the nonprofit sector while offering the public little or no benefit.
House to Focus on Ethics Reforms Package in Early 2007
In January 2007, the Democrats will officially take control of the House, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will assume the role of speaker. It is anticipated that the House Democrats immediately will unveil a series of bills during what many are calling the “First 100 Hours.” Among those bills will be the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, a package of ethics reforms.
None at this time.
The proposed bill likely will (among other things):
- Ban certain gifts from lobbyists
- Ban travel funded or arranged by lobbyists
- Prohibit the use of official or campaign funds to pay for the use of non-commercial, corporate jets.
- Require mandatory ethics training annually for all House employees and members.
- Earmark reform that would require full disclosure of all earmarks.
In addition, the bill has a provision clarifying disclosure rules surrounding lobbying activities by certain coalitions and associations. We currently are reviewing the legislation to see how this provision may affect tax exempt organizations.
Also, if the ethics package were to extend its reach into issues related to fundraising, we obviously will strive to work with Congress to ensure that any proposed provisions would benefit the public without overly burdening the fundraising community.
We will continue to monitor this issue and keep you apprised of any developments.
Charitable Reforms Could Arise on the State Level
Due to the heightened scrutiny of the charitable sector and proposed charitable reforms on the federal level, we have heard rumors that states are poised to follow suit.
Please let us know if you hear of any proposed legislation in your state that would introduce charitable reforms. You can contact Jason Lee, Director of Government Relations, at email@example.com.
Over the past few years, Congress, particularly the Senate Finance Committee, has been closely studying the charitable sector. Several charitable reforms have been introduced despite the fact that empirical evidence indicates that charitable abuse is not a widespread problem and that stronger enforcement of existing laws could curb those rare instances of abuse.
Because of the federal government’s focus on the charitable sector, some states are rumored to be contemplating their own charitable reforms.
If states do introduce charitable reform legislation, AFP will seek to work with the legislative body to ensure that the charitable sector is not subjected to needless bureaucracy that would provide little benefit to the public.
Recently, AFP was able to work with the sponsor of California’s Nonprofit Integrity Act, State Sen. Byron Sher, and the California Attorney General's office to ensure the law's impact on legitimate organizations was minimized.
CRTC Continues to Prepare for the Implementation of the Do Not Call List
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) continues to work on implementing the federal Do Not Call List.
Currently, the CRTC is doing a couple of things:
1. They are reviewing feedback from the various work groups, including the operations work group that AFP participated in.
2. They are meeting with those groups who have responded to the Request for Information (RFI) questionnaire.
None at this time.
According to the CRTC website, the RFI questionnaire asked potential respondents to “describe their capabilities and any preliminary views that they may have concerning the operation of the proposed [Do Not Call List] DNCL system.” Subsequent to this, the CRTC will develop and issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to be sent to “qualified respondents to the RFI and any other entities identified. . . as potential DNCL operators.”
The CRTC originally envisioned the formation of a consortium of organizations (other than the CRTC) that would have administered the RFI and RFP process. However, such consortium, for a variety of reasons, never formed. Therefore, the CRTC itself now must handle the RFI and RFP process via a government procurement procedure, which has slowed the overall implementation of the Do Not Call List.
For confidentiality reasons, the list of RFI respondents is unavailable.
Currently, there is no target date for the Do Not Call List to be fully implemented. The CRTC’s next public announcement will likely be the announcement of the RFP.
It is our hope that AFP will have the opportunity to weigh in to ensure that an education component is put into place so that the public understands that registered charities are exempt from the Do Not Call List.
As you know, AFP worked with Parliament to ensure that registered charities were exempted from the Do Not Call List. AFP continued to participate in the process as a member of a Do Not Call List operations subcommittee.
In addition, AFP submitted an application for variance to the CRTC in 2005 in response to proposed telemarketing regulations that likely will be revisited as the CRTC crafts the Do Not Call List implementation process.
We will continue to work with the CRTC and keep you informed of any developments.
Imagine Canada’s “Investing in Citizens, Families and Communities” Proposal
Imagine Canada has presented a funding proposal called “Investing in Citizens, Families and Communities” that would create opportunities for increased partnering between the federal government and the nonprofit sector.
The proposal is attached here: Imagine Canada proposal.
None at this time.
The proposal urges more of an investment in the sector from the federal government, funding beyond just grants and contribution agreements.
Conference calls have been held by Imagine Canada about this issue, and a few groups in the charitable sector, including AFP, have participated in those discussions.
As Imagine Canada now moves forward with this proposal, most organizations, including AFP, are taking more of a “wait and see” approach.