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Public Policy & Advocacy

  • June 06, 2023 8:11 PM | Anonymous

    This week, leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives continued to meet behind closed doors to negotiate a final version of the state budget for FY2023-25. Legislative leaders hope to have the state budget in place before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, 2023. 

    The House Appropriations Committee voted 21-3 to allow lawmakers to spend as much as $1.65 billion more by raising the state’s spending limit over the next 13 months. That’s $650 million less than the Senate desired, though Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, was confident it wouldn’t result in drastic reductions to the Senate’s spending priorities.

    In addition to public school teacher and school staff pay raises, the Senate voted overwhelmingly for a budget plan Monday afternoon that prioritized giving more money to water and sewerage projects, college and universities, law enforcement pay, and an incentive fund to lure more property insurance companies to Louisiana. 

    Senate Finance Chairman Bodi White, R-Central, said he expected the House to reject the Senate budget plan and send the matter to a legislative conference committee, where negotiations over the state’s financial priorities will continue. The conference committee process will be secretive, and jockeying over the state spending plan will continue largely behind doors for the next few days. House and Senate leaders will select six legislators — three from each chamber —  to negotiate on each one of the budget bills, but those talks won’t take place out in the open. 

    State lawmakers must come to a consensus on their budget plan and the spending cap before 6pm Thursday evening, when the legislative session is scheduled to end. 

  • June 02, 2023 10:41 AM | Anonymous

    The National Council of Nonprofits is urging Congress to support the Volunteer Driver Tax Appreciation Act of 2022 (H.R. 3032), introduced by Reps. Stauber (R-MN) and Angie Craig (D-MN). H.R. 3032 would raise the charitable mileage rate from 14 cents per mile to the standard business rate for volunteers who drive their vehicles on behalf of charitable nonprofits to transport property or individuals. This would provide a needed incentive for volunteer drivers to return to assisting their fellow residents at less personal cost. The bill would also effectively eliminate the income tax on mileage reimbursements up to the standard business rate, saving volunteers money and making tax filings easier. Nonprofits would not be required under the legislation to reimburse volunteer drivers. These simple changes would provide needed financial relief to volunteers by defraying one of the biggest costs associated with volunteering. 

  • June 02, 2023 10:27 AM | Anonymous

    The legality of the Biden student debt cancellation plan will be decided in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. A decision is expected in that case by the end of this month. Prior to the House vote, the National Council of Nonprofits sent a letter to congressional leaders expressing strong opposition to the impact of the resolutions on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The House passed H.J. Resolution 45 by Congressman Good (R-VA) on May 24, 2023 by a 218 - 203 vote and, on June 1 2023, the Senate passed the Resolution by Yea-Nay Vote - 52 - 46.  


  • June 02, 2023 10:16 AM | Anonymous

    The Senate passed a bill late Thursday evening to suspend the nation’s debt limit through January 1, 2025, averting a first-ever US default just days ahead of the deadline by a 63-36 vote. Both Senators Kennedy and Cassidy were "no" votes saying the spending cuts don't go far enough. Earlier this week, the House passed the debt limit and spending cuts bill by “whopping” (per Politico) vote of 314 to 117. Two-thirds of the Republican caucus (149) voted for the Fiscal Responsibility Act, as did 165 Democrats. A major conservative Republican revolt did not materialize.

  • May 01, 2023 6:16 PM | Anonymous
    The COVID-19 pandemic resurfaced an undeniable truth: charitable nonprofits and governments are natural partners, serving the same constituents in the same communities. The challenges of one are the challenges of all. Partnerships between the sectors allow for leveraging of resources, relationships, and strengths to serve communities even better. 

    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.

  • May 01, 2023 4:33 PM | Anonymous

    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.

  • May 01, 2023 4:25 PM | Anonymous

    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.

    • Rep. Matthew Willard, D-New Orleans, proposes a small bit of economic justice for essential workers. His House Bill 162 would double the existing state supplement to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. As written, it would be costly, starting at about $67 million a year. Where would that money go? To rewarding work, as does the federal EITC, especially if the families dependent on the smallest paychecks will still be scrimping and saving most of the time. 

    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

  • May 01, 2023 3:42 PM | Anonymous

    We’re now starting week 4 of the 2023 Louisiana Legislature regular sessionSession 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

  • May 01, 2023 3:32 PM | Anonymous

    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.

  • May 01, 2023 3:20 PM | Anonymous

    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.

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