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Provisions Limiting Nonprofit Advocacy Expected This Week

(Oct. 24, 2005) The House of Representatives is expected this week to consider a provision that would prohibit certain nonprofits from engaging in lobbying and 'voter participation' activities.

These types of activities are now legal for nonprofits, but under an amendment to H.R. 1461, the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act, charities that wanted to apply for certain affordable housing funds would not be allowed to lobby the government or engage in voter registration activities--even with private funds.

Even more disturbing, the prohibition would apply to organizations that don't engage in such activities, but are 'affiliated' with those that do. The definition of 'affiliated' under the amendment is very broad, including the sharing of office space and supplies.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, these prohibitions conflict with requirements of the National Voter Registration Act, which requires many agencies that receive funding from states to conduct voter registration with their residents or clients.

The coalition, along with OMB Watch and other organizations, is encouraging charities to contact their members of Congress and urge them to oppose the amendment.

Members can find out more information, including an (800) phone number to use to contact Congress about this issue, at the Coalition website.

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