The rumor is that Congress may adjourn for the holidays sooner rather than later. That means some major issues may be punted until 2024; however, giving is still down and the challenges nonprofits face continue to rise. Please take a few minutes to read the message below to remind Congress that there is a bill ready for their support and urge them to take action when they return in early 2024.
Please tailor the message below to your nonprofit services, challenges and community support, and the difference that can be made if Congress passes the bipartisan Charitable Act (H.R. 3435/S. 566). Louisiana delegation members need to hear from you, your board members, volunteers, and community and business allies this week or early next. Nonprofits are important to all communities, but particularly vital to rural communities where they oftentimes fill in gaps of service where budgets are often limited. Shelly Dupré can provide you with email addresses for key contacts for your Representatives and Senators.
I write to ask that you not leave DC for the holidays before taking action to advance legislation to promote charitable giving tax incentives. As you may know, charitable organizations saw a drop in giving in 2022, the year after the nonitemizer tax deduction expired. Late last month, the results from Giving Tuesday were flat and, alarmingly, the number of donors declined by 10%. These declines in resources for the work of charitable nonprofits come at a time when demand for services continues to rise and when organizations face unprecedented stresses due to natural disasters and other challenges.
The Charitable Act (S.566 / H.R. 3435) would be a direct and immediate solution that would create a non-itemizer, universal charitable deduction. Specifically, the bill would enable taxpayers who take the standard deduction (about 88% of taxpayers) to deduct charitable donations of up to one-third of the standard deduction, or about $4,600 for individuals and $9,200 for married couples based on the current standard deduction.
I am attaching a letter signed by more than 1,000 charitable organizations from all 50 states explaining the need for and impact of this vital legislation.
The needs of the people charitable nonprofits serve and whom you represent are too important to ignore. Before Congress adjourns for the holidays, I ask you to cosponsor the Charitable Act and press for the expanded charitable giving incentive be included in any year-end legislation that goes to the House and Senate floors.
(Your name, title and organization)
Jan Masaoka, CEO of CalNonprofits, recently published an article (below) that is certainly worth a share. She very accurately provides a case for advocating for your nonprofit in addition to your specific issues. It's also worth noting that advocacy doesn't only extend to traveling to the State Capitol during the legislative session when there are a million things going on and where you are amongst a million people vying for the attention of a few legislators. Advocacy happens year-round and it includes making a plan to not only regularly visit your state legislators, but also your mayors, city council members and others who are both directly and indirectly influenced by your organization. These are also the people who travel to the Capitol during the legislative session when you may not have the time nor resources to do so. If you've built the relationship long before the legislative session, the chances of your issues and specific nonprofit garnering the attention needed should increase exponentially. To put it another way, start looking at advocacy as part of the entree instead of just a side salad.
Jan Masaoka's article below:
A long, long time ago I was a research assistant for a nonprofit research firm. We embarked on a three-year national study of mental health clinics to see what factors were most critical to organizational sustainability. Were clinics more successful in urban or in rural areas? Was it better to have an executive director with a background in medicine or in operations?
I ended up leaving the job before the study concluded. But several years later I ran into my old ED and couldn't wait to ask her: What did that critical X factor turn out to be?
Her answer: the amount of time the executive director spends at their state capitol.
It was an important lesson. We in nonprofits often think about advocacy in terms of our causes: we advocate for children with disabilities, for mountain lions, for immigrants, for people leaving incarceration, for seniors living in poverty.
We don't always realize that advocacy is not only the right thing to do to further our causes, but is also an important fundraising and business strategy. For example, a nonprofit might advocate for laws to increase senior housing. But if advocacy is also considered a business strategy, that same organization might try to package that housing with additional government support for community-based senior services that they could provide for the benefit of their neighborhood.
Government funds nonprofits with about ten times the amount of money that foundations give. But that money doesn't just happen. It happens because nonprofit advocates have fought for it -- to serve their constituencies, and as part of doing so, to give their own nonprofit financial strength.
One former animal welfare advocate commented to me that she realized she had spent years advocating for dogs, for cats, for whales, for kangaroos, for birds. But she hadn't thought to also advocate for her nonprofit organization.
So if you sometimes think, "We should do more advocacy but we don't have time," consider flipping your script to this: "We don't have time for fundraising either, but we make the time. Advocacy is a business strategy, too – why aren't we paying more attention?"
The 2024 Legislature will be made up of 28 Republicans and 11 Democrats in the Senate and 73 Republicans and 32 Democrats in the House.
House Leadership Nominations:
Rep. Phillip DeVillier, a Republican from Eunice has been nominated for speaker by the House GOP. Other nominations include:
A formal vote for the leadership positions will be held in January.
Senator Cameron Henry, a Republican from Metairie, has been nominated for Senate President, and Senator Jeremy Stine (Lake Charles) is expected to garner strong support for Senate Majority Leader. The new Senate Republican Delegation will meet for the first time in Baton Rouge on Thursday, Dec. 14 where senators will elect delegation officers.
House Democratic Caucus Leadership
Rep. Matthew Willard of New Orleans will serve as the new Caucus chair next term.
Other members include:
The organizational session of the Legislature (Inauguration Day), which will host formal votes for House speaker and Senate president, is scheduled for January 8, 2024. Among the first issues lawmakers will address in 2024 is the special redistricting session following a court order to create two majority-minority congressional districts. Other possible issues on the table for a special session include crime and insurance.
2023 election results were sweeping in both the executive and legislative branches. For the first time since 2015, Republicans have secured all statewide offices.
Inauguration Day – Monday, January 8, 2024
Republican Senator Cameron Henry all but sealed the deal this week after his main opponent for the top upper chamber spot, Senator Mike Reese, R-Leesville, endorsed him for Senate President. Probably more important, Landry’s team made it clear that the governor-elect favored Henry over Reese, and senators aren’t looking to cross the new gov on this important pick.
The selection of who would succeed Senator Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, as Senate president has been closely watched by political insiders because the president is typically the second most powerful elected official in state government after the governor. The new Senate president will take over in January following a formal vote by senators when the new Legislature and governor take office.
Henry, 48, is seen as being slightly more conservative than Reese, a trucking company owner and commercial real estate developer who is well liked and respected by the delegation. But Reese faced the disadvantage of being closely associated over the past four years with Cortez, a political foe of Landry’s from political spats over the years in the Acadiana region and, later, in state politics.
Henry got his start in politics as an aide to then-state Rep. Steve Scalise and has remained close with Scalise during his time as a Republican leader in Washington.
He ran to be House speaker in 2015 after winning re-election to a second term in the House, but lost to then-state Rep. Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia.
As a “consolation” prize, former Speaker Barras named Henry as chair of the House Appropriations Committee, which writes the House's version of the state budget.
The Senate president determines which senators chair the various legislative committees as well as all of the other committee assignments. That gives senators plenty of reasons to be on Henry’s good side, even if they disagree with him on certain issues. The Senate president is also the spokesman for the upper chamber and its chief negotiator with the governor.
In the House chamber, which state representative might replace term-limited House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, remains unclear. A number of House members are vying for the top House spot (all Republicans) include Reps. Phillip DeVillier of Eunice, Beau Beaullieu of New Iberia, Jack McFarland of Jonesboro, Paula Davis of Baton Rouge, Daryl Deshotel of Hessmer and Neil Riser of Columbia.
*As a side note, if your organization covers any of the areas of the Senate and House top spot contenders, you and your board should make every effort to build a relationship with these legislators.
Good news for nonprofits… There is now a House companion bill to the Streamlining Federal Grants Act (S. 2286/H.R. 5934).
The bipartisan bill was introduced today by Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA) with Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) as lead cosponsor. Here’s their news release, bill summary, and legislative text.
The Streamlining Federal Grants Act (S. 2286/H.R. 5934) and the Benefits to Charitable Nonprofits, National Council of Nonprofits, updated Oct. 12, 2023.
Just to show the power of advocacy, Laura Pierce of the Nonprofit Association of Washington sent a thank you letter to Rep. Glusenkamp Perez and within 4 minutes got this response:
“The Nonprofit Association of WA is the entity that got this whole introduction process moving after our August meeting, so thank YOU for flagging the bill for us.”
House Hearings: The House is barely in session, but Republican Committee Chairs are proceeding with hearings into the Labor Department’s Overtime Proposed Rule and other activities. The first of these is likely innocuous but the second could be worth watching:
Evaluating the Proposed Rule: Please use the link below to build public comments on the Overtime Proposed Rule. Public comments on the Overtime Proposed Rule are due by Nov. 7, 2023.
There were four Louisiana constitutional amendments on this year's ballot in the October 14th primary election, and all four amendments passed.
Amendment 1 passed by 73%. This amendment will prohibit the use of funds and resources from a foreign government or a nongovernmental source for the conduct of elections unless provided for in the election code and subject to restrictions provided by general law.
Amendment 2 passed by 80%. This amendment will harden the constitutional right to worship in a church or place of worship. It will ensure that any restriction placed on the freedom to worship in a church or other place of worship would be required to face the highest bar of judicial review.
Amendment 3 passed by 57%. This amendment will require a minimum of 25% of any money designated as nonrecurring state revenue be applied toward the balance of the unfunded accrued liability of the state retirement systems.
Amendment 4 passed by 66%. This amendment restricts Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions for certain nonprofit organizations. It will force organizations to pay taxes if they're a public safety of health danger. It's a three-strike and you're out policy. All violations have to be code enforcement related, like poor living conditions, hazards on the properties and safety.
Four additional constitutional amendments will be on the ballot for the November 18th election. Click here to read each proposed amendment.
Candidates who have run-off races on Saturday, November 18th will have to do some serious GOTV (Get Out The Vote) work to do since the Governor’s race was decided this past weekend.
Turnout in this past weekend's primary election was lower than in any gubernatorial contest in more than a decade. The showing was nearly as low as the historically lukewarm turnout in 2011, when former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal cruised to re-election after no well-organized opponent challenged him.
About 36% of Louisiana's 3 million registered voters cast ballots in the primary. Democrats suffered due to particularly anemic numbers in blue strongholds such as Orleans Parish, where turnout was just 27%. Wilson received 26% of votes cast statewide while none of the four other major candidates for governor reached 10% of the vote.
With a statewide voter turnout of 35.8%, Attorney General Jeff Landry secured his position as the next Governor of Louisiana in the October 14th primary election. Landry emerged victorious among a field of 14 other candidates with 52% of the vote. Most anticipated a runoff that Landry would easily have won against Democrat Shawn Wilson, but now Governor-elect Landry can focus the next 60 days on his transition ahead of the January 8th Inauguration.
Shortly after 8 p.m., as election returns began to come in, it was apparent that Louisiana's Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser had secured his re-election with 66% of the vote. However, the races for Secretary of State, Attorney General, and State Treasurer are set to proceed to runoffs on Saturday, November 18th.
Below is a breakdown of the runoff candidates:
Secretary of State
Republican Nancy Landry (19%) faces Democrat "Gwen" Collins-Greenup 19% (knocking out term-limited House Speaker Clay Schexnayder who garnered 15% and Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis with 18% of the vote.
Republican Liz Murrill, who led with 45%, heads into a run-off with Democrat Lindsey Cheek who captured 23% of the vote.
State Representative John Stefanski finished 3rd with 17%
Republican John Fleming, who received 44% of the vote, now faces Democrat Dustin Granger who came in second with 32% of the vote.
State Representative Scott McKnight finished third with 24%
Senate and House Races
Incumbents in the Louisiana Legislature had a mostly successful night, with only Senator Robert Mills from Shreveport and State Representative Jonathan Goudeau from Lafayette losing their re-election bids. Six House incumbents are headed for runoffs on November 18th.
Eight Senate incumbents won re-election, and eight House members successfully “moved up” and will be sworn in as “Senator” on January 8th, 2024 including Representatives Bob Owens, Rick Edmonds, Valarie Hodges, Greg Miller, Blake Miguez, Alan Seabaugh, Thomas Pressly and Bill Wheat. Jean-Paul Coussan was elected without opposition and an additional House member is guaranteed to transfer to the Senate in the Jenkins v. Glover matchup.
Only two races will be in a runoff in the Senate--both being same-party contests--resulting in a Senate partisan makeup of 28 Republicans and 11 Democrats (a supermajority).
SD 21: Robert Allain 44% vs. “Bo” LaGrange 31% in Senator Brett Allain’s St Mary-based Senate seat
SD 39: “Sam” Jenkins 34% vs. Cedric Glover 26% for Senator Greg Tarver’s seat in Shreveport
Numerous House races will go to a runoff:
Sources: Haynie & Associates and NOLA.com
Early voting, which ends Saturday, and absentee participation, which will run a bit longer, are underway for Louisiana’s gubernatorial primary election cycle.
Enthusiasm for the ballot ebbs and flows depending on the region of the state. Joel Watson, the deputy secretary of state for outreach, said the top performing parishes, through the first two days of early voting, which commended Saturday, were:
1.) East Baton Rouge: 11,753 voters
2.) Jefferson: 8,696 voters
3.) St. Tammany: 8,309 voters
4.) Orleans: 5,857 voters
5.) Lafayette: 5,568 voters
Dr. Edward Chervenak, director of the Survey Research Center at the University of New Orleans, noted similar engagement on day one of early voting as compared to the cycle hosting the last race for governor.
The first day of early voting on Saturday saw 81,538 ballots cast. That’s 4,479 more than were cast on the first day of early voting four years ago.
"There were 8,290 more registered voters in the state compared to four years ago, so the rate of early voter turnout for the first day in 2023 was really no different from the first day in 2019," Chervenak said.
John Couvillon of JMC Analytics and Polling said Monday, the second day of early voting, included a "turn to the right."
In total, 118,194 people voted early, Couvillon reported. That vote was 72 percent/25.5 percent White/Black and 43.5 percent/42 percent Republican/Democrat.
In the 2019 primary, Couvillon said day two numbers had 122,148 people voting early. That 2019 vote was 73 percent/24 percent White/Black and 44 percent/42 percent Republican/Democrat.
Source: LA Politics
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