Nonprofits are perfectly positioned to maximize public benefits with their deep knowledge of community needs, reach, and existing relationships, particularly in low-income and underserved or hard-to-reach populations. We are stronger when we invest together; the allocation of Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds provides an ideal opportunity to strengthen these natural partnerships and secure relief, recovery, and greater impact for the public good.
When meeting with local elected officials and state policy makers, please share the report, Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits, that provides substantive guidance to governments and solutions for nonprofits seeking support from the American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Three legislators have switched parties in the past three weeks. Representatives Francis Thompson and Jeremy Lacombe switched from Democrat to Republican and Representative Roy Adams switched from Independent to Democrat.
Delhi Representative Francis Thompson is the longest-serving member of the Louisiana legislature and was a lifelong Democrat. By joining the GOP, both chambers are now a Republican super majority. Thompson, 81-years-old, said he’d been contemplating switching parties for years and that "the Republican Party is one that best represents my views and those of the constituents that elected me." The redistricting session last year played a role in the decision because District 19 is majority red. Thompson voted then with Republicans to overturn Governor Edwards’ veto of a congressional map. He said his values are more aligned with the GOP nationally and on the state level and the switch comes after almost 50 years in the legislature.
State Rep. Jeremy LaCombe was elected in 2019 to District 18, spanning parts of Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge parishes. LaCombe easily won his House seat in 2019, beating out Republicans with 68% of the vote in a special election and 62% of the vote in an election to a full term. In his bid to gain a senate seat left by Senator Rick Ward, LaCombe lost badly to a Republican, Caleb Kleinpeter, a former member of the West Baton Rouge Parish Council.
In 2021, House Speaker Clay Schexnayder removed Jackson State Rep. Roy Daryl Adams, who had no party affiliation at the time, from a coveted seat on the House Appropriations Committee that crafts the state’s budget. Four legislators were among the 30 lawmakers who voted against Schexnayder in the veto override effort that collapsed because Republicans couldn’t get enough Democrats or independents in the House to support overturning Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ vetoes of bills.
The switches come as President Biden faces a near-record low approval rating among key groups, including women (43% now vs. 42% low), voters ages 45+ (41% vs. 39% low), suburban voters (41% vs. 39% low), rural voters (31% vs. 30% low) and Democrats (81% vs. 78% low) – Democratic men in particular (79% vs. 78% low), according to a recent Fox News poll. Biden is also at a low mark of 41% approval among suburban women. A separate recent poll found that only a third of Americans believed Biden deserved to be re-elected in 2024.
Louisiana legislators are diligently tending to the needs of corporations and wealthy individuals during the ongoing legislative session. Bills are moving through the Capitol that would provide new tax breaks for oil and gas companies, while other “reforms” would redirect state revenue from education, health care and other priorities to other uses. An Advocate editorial urges the Legislature to prioritize struggling families the same way.
A companion bill by Rep. Alonzo Knox, House Bill 632, would allow a $250 tax credit for children 0-5 living in families with incomes below $40,000 per year. Knox voluntarily shelved his bill on Monday after conservatives on the House Ways and Means committee complained about its cost.
Source: Louisiana Budget Project - The Daily Dime
We’re now starting week 4 of the 2023 Louisiana Legislature regular session. Session convened on April 10th and must adjourn no later than June 8th at 6pm. For a full list of bills and House and Senate committee meetings, please visit the Louisiana Legislative website.
The deadline for final passage of bills without 2/3 authorizing vote is June 5, 2023 at 6pm. The House and Senate bill filing counts are as follows:
Bill Filing Counts:
Total HB(s) filed: 644
Total HCR(s) filed: 71
Total HR(s) filed: 108
Total SB(s) filed: 232
Total SCR(s) filed: 31
Total SR(s) filed: 48
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 (H.R. 2911), the House plan to raise the federal debt limit and limit federal spending. Unless Congress raises the federal debt limit by this summer, the United States could default on its debt, causing a global financial crisis. The bill would extend the debt limit through March 31, 2024 or until it increases by $1.5 trillion, whichever occurs first. This would mean that Congress would need to renegotiate the debt limit within the next year, creating another opportunity for a potential financial crisis.
Several of the spending provisions in the bill could affect nonprofits and the people they serve, including:
1. Language to claw back unappropriated funds from the American Rescue Act Plan and other COVID relief programs; some of these unappropriated funds in Louisiana could still be used by the state and local governments to support the work of nonprofits;
2. A provision prohibiting executive actions to forgive student debt or make changes to income-driven repayment plans;
3. Repeal of a variety of green tax credits that were passed into law last year, some of which benefit nonprofits making energy-efficient upgrades to their facilities; and
4. Provisions extending the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from the current age range of 18-49 to an age range of 18-55 and adding work requirements for Medicaid recipients.
The Limit, Save, Grow Act passed by a 217-215 margin, mostly along party lines; all five Republican House members from Louisiana voted for the bill, and Democratic House member, Congressman Troy Carter, voted against the bill. The Limit, Save, Grow Act is unlikely to become law, since neither the Democrat-controlled Senate nor President Biden support this proposal. Instead, leaders in both chambers in Congress and the White House are likely to continue to negotiate a debt limit extension and federal spending changes in the coming weeks and months.
A recent report from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project found that overall charitable giving in the United States declined by 1.7% in 2022. The report also found that the number of donors to nonprofits declined by 10.0% last year. The decline in charitable contributions is particularly troubling at a time when demand for nonprofits’ services is increasing and nonprofits’ expenses are going up due to inflation. The Center encourages federal and state policymakers to help nonprofits have the resources they need to provide services for their communities by creating new tax incentives for charitable giving, including....
1. A federal universal tax deduction for charitable contributions. A bipartisan U.S. Senate bill known as the Charitable Act (S.566) would create a non-itemizer, universal charitable deduction. The legislation would enable taxpayers who use the standard deduction to deduct charitable donations of up to one-third of the standard deduction, about $4,600 for individuals and $9,200 for married couples.
Probably less exciting to most voters, but equally as important, is the race for Insurance Commissioner. Current Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon recently announced that he will not seek re-election. In addition to Tim Temple who has already announced that he is running for Insurance Commissioner again, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta (District 1-Republican), and State Representative Edmond Jordan (Democrat-Baton Rouge), are also considering entering the race.
Louisiana is experiencing a major homeowners insurance crisis and rising auto insurance rates. Louisiana legislators recently voted to move forward with a $45 million fund to incentivize insurance companies to enter the Louisiana market, but many critics raised concerns that it wouldn’t go far enough to address the true cause of the crisis. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, so many insurance companies folded or left the state that 173,000 property owners were forced to use Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance, the state-run insurance of last resort. By law, Citizens charges premiums set 10% higher than the highest private insurer in each parish.
Insurance issues affect nonprofits on many levels – rising commercial auto insurance rates is one of the biggest insurance premium pain points for non-profits, especially those with considerable fleets.
Qualifying for the Oct. 14 primary election is Aug. 8-10.
Speculate no more. The Democratic candidate that garnered much speculation about whether he would jump into the race has announced. Now former Louisiana Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, a Democrat, recently stepped down from the top position at DOTD and officially announced his candidacy for the top job in the state. Governor John Bel Edwards endorsed Shawn Wilson's campaign for Louisiana governor, saying, "the longtime transportation official will bridge partisan divides and has the government know-how to confront the state's many challenges."
On the Republican side, Baton Rouge Congressman Garret Graves ended any talk on whether he would enter the race to replace Gov. John Bel Edwards. It seems that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., recently naming Graves chair of the Elected Leadership Committee and to a seat on the House Republican Steering Committee was too good to pass up – and good for Louisiana too. Congressman Graves announced that he’s keeping his DC job, buthis interview quote raised questions as to who he could be referring to considering Rep. Nelson is the youngest announced candidate—“In the coming days, the field for governor will brighten. And Louisiana will have a generational opportunity to write America’s greatest comeback story”.
Following Graves announcement that he would be keeping his job in DC, Stephen Waguespack stepped down from his role as president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) and announced his candidacy. The only other person who had previously stated that he was considering a run depending on what Congressman Graves would do is term-limited Speaker Clay Schexnayder. It’s now unclear if Schexnayder is still eyeing the top spot now that Stephen Waguespack has jumped into the race.
The race already has four declared Republican candidates: Attorney General Jeff Landry, State Treasurer John Schroder, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, and state Rep. Richard Nelson, R-Mandeville. Lake Charles businessman Hunter Lundy has also said he will run as a political independent.
To date, 129 House bills and 32 Senate bills have been filed.
The 2023 regular legislative session begins on April 10th and adjourns no later than 6pm on June 8, 2023.
The annual report on the impact of the arts is out from the National Endowment for the Arts and U.S. Department of Commerce. New Data Show Economic Activity of the U.S. Arts & Cultural Sector in 2021. The analysis finds that while the total economic value added by arts and cultural industries grew by 13.7 percent from 2020-2021, several core arts industries did not return to pre-pandemic production levels. The report states, “This group includes independent artists (as an industry), performing arts organizations (e.g., theater, dance, and opera companies, music groups; and circuses), and arts-related construction, among many others.” According to the new data,
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