The Idaho Nonprofit Center will bring you a quick round up, every two weeks, of issues relevant to Idaho's nonprofit sector.

In This Issue

  1. Last Watch of 2017
  2. 2017 Legislative Session
  3. Community Letter Update
  4. Continue to Track
  5. Policy Statement Regarding the Johnson Amendment
  6. Congressional Break
  7. Thank You!
  8. Keep Up with the News
  9. Past Issues

Last Legislative Watch of 2017 

Welcome to our final Legislative Watch for the 2017 Legislative Session! Although the session has ended, we will be summarizing some key actions from this session, as well as continuing with updates as needed throughout the year.


Key Actions from Idaho’s 2017 Legislative Session 

In the 2017 Legislative Session, 770 pieces of draft legislation were written, and more than two-thirds (530) were introduced as bills. Three key issues dominated this year: transportation, public education, and tax relief. 

Public Education:

  • The legislature approved the fiscal year 2018 General Fund increase of 6.3% for K-12. Which also included an additional $61.9 million for the third year of the career ladder compensation system.

    • Learn more about the career ladder compensation system here.

  • Idaho’s Community Colleges received a General Fund increase of 6.7% and Idaho’s four year colleges General Fund Appropriation increased approximately 2.7%.  

Transportation:

  • $300 million in bonds was allocated to finance projects in critical transportation corridors.

  • 15.2% million in sales tax revenue was provided for a new Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation Program to address state and local transportation projects.

  • Legislature authorized the continuation of the Transportation Strategic Initiatives Program.

Oil and Gas Commission:

  • The bill introduced during the session strengthens public transparency of the industry by adding new reporting requirements and revises rights and remedies of royalty owners.  

The legislature also passed bills such as:

  • Victims of sexual assault will not be denied a medical examination and the inability to pay for such an exam will not be an obstacle to the examination.  This bill also requires retention of sexual assault evidence kits for a certain amount of time and ensures the victim is notified upon the kit’s destruction. Bill: H 146

  • Bill H 043 establishes Medicaid eligibility for children with serious emotional disturbance from a family who is up to 300% of the federal poverty level.

  • H 128 permits the Department of Health and Welfare to enter agreements with Medicaid providers for a fee arrangement based on the quality, rather than the quantity of services, and improves the health outcomes of Medicaid recipients while reducing costs to the state.

Economic Growth: 

The Economic and Revenue Assessment Committee estimated revenue growth of 4.6% for Fiscal Year 2018 over a 5.4% growth estimate for Fiscal Year 2017. For a more detailed list of bills passed during this session, click here.


Community Letter Update 

Thank you to everyone that signed the community letter to oppose proposals that would politicize the charitable nonprofit and philanthropic community. [link]

  • The community letter in support of nonpartisanship was signed by nearly 4,500 organizations.

  • This letter was the second major communication on this issue delivered to Congress this week.

    • On April 4th, almost 100 religious organizations and denominational organizations from across all faiths delivered a letter declaring that they “strongly oppose any effort to weaken or eliminate protections”

  • The community letter will be delivered electronically to every congressional office as well as provided with hard copies.

  • The Community Letter is part of a collaborative initiative led by: National Council of Nonprofits, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, BoardSource, Council on Foundations, Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, Habitat for Humanity International, Independent Sector, Jewish Federations of North America, National Human Services Assembly, and Volunteers of America.

Spread the word: 

You can spread the word by using social media to help promote this message. Hashtags have been created to further the opposition of the repeal of the Johnson Amendment and promote the campaign. #CommunityNotCandidates #JohnsonAmendment 


Issues We will Continue to Track 

Tax Reform:

We will continue to track and monitor potential cuts to programs such as Americorps, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities, as well as the Legal Services Corporation. Below are updates and information regarding the cap on charitable deductions as well as the repeal of the Johnson Amendment.  

Charitable Deductions:

There is a proposal to put a CAP on charitable contributions. This, in turn, may adversely impact monetary donations to nonprofit organizations. 

Why does it matter? Limitations on charitable deductions and other giving incentives could remove the motivation for donations to charitable nonprofits, and would further reduce the ability of charitable organizations to meet the increasing need for services in their communities.

This statement was released by the National Council of Nonprofits regarding charitable cap deductions, “Charitable nonprofit organizations throughout the United States are dedicated to the public good; their work improves lives, strengthens communities and the economy, and lightens the burdens of government, taxpayers, and society as a whole.  Consistent tax policies at the federal, state, and local levels are critical to the success of charitable nonprofits in pioneering and implementing solutions to community problems and aspirations”. Learn more here.

Johnson Amendment:

This keeps 501(c)(3) organizations from partaking in political stances or supporting political parties in any monetary way. 501(c)(3) have a tax exempt status which is not to be used for political affiliations.

Finding Unity in Nonpartisanship: As we found in the Idaho Nonprofits Centers survey results, a majority of members oppose the repeal of the Johnson Amendment. Our survey showed that 84% of members oppose the repeal of the Johnson Amendment. Nationwide, the National Council of Nonprofits found in their recent poll that a majority of the public also opposed to the repeal of the Johnson Amendment.

The National Council of Nonprofits explored why nonprofits feel so strongly to keep politics out of 501c3’s. Many nonprofits were able to take a strong stance on why they opposed the repeal. Reverend Stephen Copley, Chair of Faith Voices Arkansas stated “Our faith communities are not homogeneous institutions politically. When we endorse candidates of one political party or another, then we begin to exclude others in the congregation. Also, we open the door for the possibility”. Hear more comments here.

There are other ways for nonprofits to support a political party. Learn about this in our past Legislative Watch discussing the various ways in which nonprofits can associate monetarily with political campaigns and candidates.


Idaho Nonprofit Center Policy Statement Regarding the Johnson Amendment 

The Idaho Nonprofit Center fully supports nonpartisanship in our sector and cannot support the weakening or removal of current federal tax law protections that prohibit 501(c) (3) organizations from endorsing, opposing, or contributing to political candidates.

Read the full statement here.


Congressional Break 

There is a scheduled senate and congressional break April 10-21, so be sure to look for opportunities in the community to connect with your elected officials.

  • The independent sector published a podcast on how to engage with your elected officials during recess. Listen here.
  • Find your elected officials here.

Thank You! 

This concludes the 2017 Legislative Watch Newsletters. Keep an eye out for future updates as they come up throughout the year!

The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do - Steve Jobs


Keeping Up with the News


Past Issues

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