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Public Policy & Advocacy


  • August 10, 2023 3:32 PM | Anonymous

    Thursday, August 10th is the last day of qualifying for election to state office this year. A comprehensive list of qualifying candidates can be found on the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website and is unofficial until qualifying closes at 4:30 p.m. Every statewide office as well as every seat in the Legislature and on BESE is up for grabs.  The primary election will be held on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 and the Gubernatorial General Election on Nov. 18, 2023. The deadline to register to vote in person, by mail or at the OMV Office is September 13, 2023.    

     

  • August 10, 2023 3:00 PM | Anonymous

    According to a recent survey conducted for Independent Sector, a membership organization of nonprofits and grant makers, charities are now far more reluctant to seek to influence lawmakers and other policymakers. The survey found that less than one-third of nonprofits have actively advocated for policy issues or lobbied on specific legislation over the past five years, down from nearly three-quarters of nonprofits in 2000. 

    Some of the survey's key takeaways include:

    • Less than one-third of nonprofits said they were well-versed in how to legally conduct advocacy campaigns and how much lobbying they were permitted to do. Twenty years ago more than half knew the rules, the survey found.

    • Nonprofits cannot endorse political candidates or parties; however, they can pursue a range of nonpartisan work, including research on important issues. Nonprofits can also educate voters on policy, get voters to the polls, draft proposed language for legislation, provide research on policy, and serve as witnesses at legislative hearings. 
    • Nonprofits were more prone to advocate on policy questions if they belonged to national or local coalitions. 
    • Nonprofits don’t have a clear understanding of how they can advocate at the federal, state or local levels. It is necessary for nonprofits, particularly those that rely on government contracts, to have a voice in public affairs. 
    • It’s important to build up political capital with local and state elected legislators so when you go “knocking on their doors, they know who you are”.
  • August 10, 2023 2:58 PM | Anonymous

    Recognizing the substantial impact of the charitable nonprofit sector on the economy, the National Conference of State Legislatures podcaster Ed Smith sat down with David L. Thompson of the National Council of Nonprofits to better understand how charitable nonprofits work with legislatures and the states. Thompson explained the roles charitable nonprofits play in communities and how state government and nonprofits work together to address any number of challenges, and specifically the value of community-based organizations when it comes to helping government implement programs. He also noted a challenge that charitable nonprofits have in common with state government — a shortage of workers — and ways government and the nonprofit sector can advance policies to try to address those shortages. Click here to listen to David Thompson’s interview with NCSL. 

  • August 02, 2023 10:31 PM | Anonymous

    The IRS recently issued a new set of answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the Employee Retention Tax Credit. The document, Frequently asked questions about the Employee Retention Credit, provides answers to 20 of the most common questions about eligibility and application for the ERTC. Working to beat back scam artists in “ERTC mills,” the first Q&A is succinct: “Q1. Is every business eligible for the Employee Retention Credit? A1. No.” The longest answer responds to the question: “How do I know if I'm being scammed by an ERC promoter?

    The latest update to the ERTC FAQs comes at the end of an active week in combatting and highlighting the challenges raised by “ERTC mills,” the groups that have popped up (and appear on radio, TV, and pop-up ads) everywhere promising free money from the government. On Tuesday, IRS Commissioner Werfel reported on the tax agency’s success in closing the backlog of ERTC claims while ramping up enforcement efforts against scam artists.

    Below are links to more news coverage of last week’s ERTC hearing:

    ACTION ITEM: Do you have ideas for preventing fraud in the ERTC system? Please let the National Council of Nonprofits know so they can be included in follow-up statements to Congress.

  • August 02, 2023 10:17 PM | Anonymous

    Members of Congress adjourned for August recess on July 27 – a day earlier than expected – after it became apparent that attempts to bring the fiscal year (FY) 2024 Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration spending bill to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote would be futile. The U.S. Senate will now be in recess until September 5th, while the House will be in recess until September 12th.

    The discrepancies between the House and Senate appropriations bills hint at what will likely be a tumultuous September on Capitol Hill. Congress has only until September 30th – the start of the new federal fiscal year – to enact all 12 appropriations bills or pass a continuing resolution (CR) in order to keep the federal government funded and avoid a shutdown. However, given the significant differences between the House and Senate FY24 spending bills, and given that far-right members of the House are indicating their unwillingness to vote for a clean CR that does not cut federal spending, members are raising alarms about a likely government shutdown on October 1st.

    With members of Congress back in their home states and districts, August recess is the perfect time for advocates to set up in-district meetings with congressional members.

  • August 02, 2023 10:12 PM | Anonymous
    • The official version of the Streamlining Federal Grants Act, S. 2286 was approved last week by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The senators’ bill would simplify and streamline the application process to increase access to federal grants for all communities. The legislation builds on a 2019 law led by Peters and Lankford that required federal grant programs to streamline data standards for applications and reporting. 

      The Streamlining Federal Grants Act directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to provide guidance to federal agencies on how they can simplify and streamline their grant application processes, including by making notice of funding opportunities easier to understand, updating software and systems that are used to apply for and manage federal grants, and implementing common data standards for grant reporting. The bill also requires agencies to appoint a senior official to develop and implement the plan to improve their grant application and reporting processes. By improving and updating the process to apply for federal grants, the senators’ legislation would reduce the burden on organizations applying for grants, and ensure the fair and efficient distribution of federal grants to communities with the greatest need. Learn more about the legislation and the benefits to charitable nonprofits

      “Strategic, competitive federal grants can open opportunities for cities, states and tribes, as well as local fire departments and others to improve infrastructure, interstate highways and waterways, broadband internet, and more.” -  Senator Lankford

  • July 21, 2023 3:57 PM | Anonymous

    Veto overrides are rare in Louisiana — this is only the fourth one in 50 years. Overriding a veto requires a two-thirds majority vote from lawmakers in both chambers. The Louisiana Constitution mandates a veto session on the 40th day after adjournment of the regular session unless a majority of either the House or Senate votes not to return. This year only 12 members of the Senate and 31 members of the House mailed in ballots stating the veto session was unnecessary.  The 2023 Veto Session, which convened Tuesday, July 18th at noon, is only the third in the state’s history since the 1974 Louisiana Constitution was adopted.

    The governor vetoed a total of 26 bills from the 2023 Regular Session including line item vetoes from the budget package. The most controversial bill, HB 648, was the only bill that both chambers mustered the two-third vote necessary to override a governor’s veto clearing the way for the “Stop Harming Our Kids Act” to become law. The bill prohibits healthcare professionals from providing gender affirming care or altering a child’s appearance to validate the minor’s perceptions of his sex. The Legislature adjourned following the vote of the Senate. The ban ultimately passed the House with a 75-23 vote and passed the Senate with a 28-11 vote.

    Lawmakers did not override any of Edwards’ other vetoes.


  • July 11, 2023 12:54 PM | Anonymous

    Of the three states with gubernatorial elections this year - Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi - a Democrat currently holds the top office in both Louisiana and Kentucky.

    A poll for who may be Louisiana's next Governor was recently conducted by Kaplan Strategies, an independent polling group out of Florida. According to the results, Attorney General Jeff Landry sits at 30% followed by former Secretary of Transportation Shawn Wilson at 20% with the rest of the candidates in the race left with single digits numbers. But another number that stands out is the 24% who say they’re undecided. The poll was conducted of 1,077 likely voters in Louisiana from June 30-July 2. The margin of error was 3%. 

    The qualifying period for candidates is Aug. 8-10. The top two candidates in the October 14th primary, regardless of party, will advance to the runoff election to be held on November 18th.


  • July 11, 2023 12:27 PM | Anonymous

    Legislators may have to return to Baton Rouge yet again later this summer or fall for a special redistricting session following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that allows the ongoing challenges to Louisiana’s congressional maps to move forward. The Louisiana order follows a June 8 decision in which the high court upheld a section of the Voting Rights Act and ordered a new map in Alabama, a state that, like Louisiana, has only one district where Black voters make up a majority. The courts so far seem to believe a second Black majority district should be added to our congressional map, and lawmakers may (or may not) want to draw the revised lines themselves, rather than leaving it to a judge. 

    According to an article in RollCall.com, one incumbent in danger of finding his now-safe Republican district redrawn to give Black voters a majority, or greater power to influence the result, is 6th District Rep. Garret Graves, a five-term incumbent who served as Speaker McCarthy’s point man on recent negotiations with President Joe Biden’s administration over raising the debt ceiling. Voters in the 6th District favored President Donald Trump over Biden by 30 percentage points in 2020. 

    Alternatively, the Republican incumbent put in danger could be 5th District Rep. Julia Letlow, who won a 2021 special election in the 5th District after her husband, Luke Letlow, was elected in 2020 but died before he took office, or 4th District Rep. Mike Johnson, a constitutional lawyer first elected in 2016. Trump’s margin of victory in Letlow’s district was also 30 points, while it was 24 points in Johnson’s.

    Senate majority leader and gubernatorial candidate, Senator Sharon Hewitt, chaired the committee that drew the district maps. She said the current district lines “were passed by a supermajority of the Legislature and comply with the law.”

  • July 11, 2023 12:08 PM | Anonymous

    According to Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Republican Senate President Page Cortez, a veto session is "inevitable". Thursday, July 13th is the last day "opt out" ballots can be turned in by state legislators to vote against a veto session; however, it appears that the House and Senate leadership already know there is support for overrides - in the House, at least. The veto session would be an attempt to overturn Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' rejection of anti-LGTBQ measures and a bill to create a new canvass of the state's voter rolls.

    Schexnayder said the top two targets are House Bill 648 by Republican Rep. Gabe Firment of Pollock to ban gender-affirming healthcare for minors, which can range from counseling to puberty blockers to hormones to surgery, and House Bill 646 by Rep. Les Farnum of Sulphur, which targets voters who have been inactive 10 years. Other vetoed measures that could gain override traction.

    "I can absolutely say the House will choose to come in," Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said in an interview with USA Today Network. "And I can say with confidence that there is support in the House for overrides."

    If a veto override session occurs, the Senate and House will convene on July 18th and cannot last more than five days. Veto overrides require a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate. All of the bills in play passed by veto-proof margins during the regular session, but that doesn't always translate to an override vote. 









 
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