Spring 2022 Public Policy Roundup

Spring 2022 Public Policy Roundup

Publication date: 
May, 2022

By Hillary Evans, Vice President of Professional Learning & Public Policy, Philanthropy Southwest

Public Policy Roundup - Spring Edition 

It has been a busy spring in Washington and for Philanthropy Southwest. Below are highlights of policy happenings this spring relevant to the charitable sector.

Recap of Foundations on the Hill

Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) took place virtually again this year drawing 230 sector advocates. To complement the dynamic FOTH programming, Philanthropy Southwest engaged 80+ funders in five curated policy briefings during the virtual Hill meeting time. These briefings included topics on child well-being, the Ukraine crisis, nonprofit cemeteries, and incentivizing charitable giving.

One of the key themes for this year’s FOTH emphasized the importance of philanthropy as a collaborator and playing a valuable role in collaborating with government to leverage public investments and ensure a healthy democracy. PSW carried this theme throughout FOTH and forged collaboration with 4 state and regional philanthropy support organizations including Philanthropy Southeast, Arkansas Impact Philanthropy, Arkansas Asset Funders Network, and Philanthropy Northwest on exclusive programming for funders, policymakers, and stakeholders.

During FOTH, PSW corresponded with more than a dozen state and federal legislative offices with participation from seven state and federal Democrat and Republican legislative offices. Engagement included participation from 3 state and federal elected leaders.  

PSW also spotlighted PSW Public Policy Committee leaders Bill Miller, CEO of Breedlove Foods who donated 20 tons of meals to the Ukraine and Kyle Penney, President of East Texas Community Foundation, who presented a webinar on pending legislation that he was instrumental in getting introduced that would fix the tax code for nonprofit cemeteries allowing community and private foundations to hold these funds. You may view a recording of this webinar here that also featured Jeff Hamond, vice president of Van Scoyoc Associates and who co-leads the Community Foundations Public Awareness Initiative.

While FOTH was virtual this year, PSW appreciated connecting in-person with local funders and policymakers in Arkansas. This hybrid event in partnership with Philanthropy Southeast, Arkansas Asset Funders Network, and Arkansas Impact Philanthropy, featured the newly launched National Research Agenda on child and family well-being and discussed efforts in Arkansas to improve early childhood education and health outcomes for children through the Excel by Eight initiative. You may read more about efforts and watch the program recording here

PSW wrapped up this policy programming with a funder discussion on philanthropic reforms in collaboration with Philanthropy Northwest on April 27th.  Participants heard a legislative update on legislation and policy relevant to the charitable sector by Jorge Castro, a partner at Miller & Chevalier. Following this update, Hillary Evans, vice president of professional learning and public policy at PSW along with Meredith Higashi, chief of staff at Philanthropy Northwest, co-moderated discussion on donor advised funds, mandatory payout policies, accountability in the charitable sector, and other philanthropic reforms.

FOTH continues to be a unique opportunity to amplify the work of philanthropy and advocate on issues important to the charitable sector. Save the dates for 2023 FOTH, February 27 – March 1 in Washington, DC.

Senate Finance Committee Hearing on Political Activities of Tax-Exempt Entities

On May 4, the Senate Finance Committee Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight held a hearing on the political activity of tax-exempt organizations. Most of the hearing focused on the political activity of 501c4s and the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) inability to enforce existing laws regulating that activity. There was no mention of the Johnson Amendment, the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act, and charitable giving tax incentives.

Earlier this spring, the Senate Finance Committee held a March 17th hearing on Examining Charitable Giving Trends for the Nonprofit Sector.  PSW submitted a statement for the record in support of the Universal Charitable Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act, bi-partisan legislation championed by Sen. Lankford (R-OK) and co-sponsored by Sen. Cortez Masto (D-NV). This universal charitable deduction, despite its expiration at the end of last year, resulted in an increase in charitable giving particularly for non-itemizers. Senator Lankford in his opening remarks thanked Philanthropy Southwest and other organizations for their continued support of the legislation.

During Foundations on the Hill, Senator Lankford’s tax staffer Julia Prus met with the PSW delegation about this pending bipartisan legislation and explained the projected timing around how this pending legislation may move through Congress in a tax title or year-end package. PSW will continue to track this legislation and consider opportunities to mobilize around efforts. 

White House Launches Equity Action Plans & Recommendations for Equity in Data Collection

On April 14, the Biden-Harris White House released  an equity action plan on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.  This action plan directed all agencies to advance racial equity and gender equity across the federal government to improve diversity.  More than 90 federal agencies, including all Cabinet-level agencies, released the first-ever Equity Action Plans, in response to the Administration’s Executive Order 13985. These equity plans lay out more than 300 concrete strategies and commitments to address the systemic barriers for underserved communities. You may read more about the plans here.

The administration also released recommendations for greater equity in data collection and analysis. The three priorities offered are: “generating disaggregated statistical estimates to characterize experiences of historically underserved groups using survey data; increasing non-federal research and community access to disaggregated data for the evidence-building that supports equity efforts; and conducting robust equity assessments of federal programs to identify areas for improvement.”

Nonprofit Sector Strength and Partnership Act Introduced in the House

On April 26th, the Nonprofit Sector Strength and Partnership Act was introduced in the House last week by Representatives McCollum (D-MN) and Upton (R-MI). This legislation, H.R. 7587, would create permanent, structural mechanisms for the sector to help shape and improve federal policy, while also expanding opportunities for the government to work more effectively with the sector to achieve shared goals. For further information, here is a link to the press release from Representatives McCollum and Upton

House Passes Legacy IRA Legislation

On March 29th, the House voted nearly unanimously (414-5) to pass the Securing a Strong Retirement Act (H.R. 2954).  This legislation would encourage more charitable giving by enabling seniors to make a one-time contribution from their traditional IRAs to charities through life-income plans. Further it would:

  • Allow seniors to make a one-time IRA rollover up to $50,000 to charities through a life-income plan, such as a charitable gift annuity. The senior’s annual retirement income from the life-income plan would be fully taxed.
  • Index for inflation the IRA Charitable Rollover’s annual cap—an important step as this figure has not been increased since 2006.

PSW signed onto a letter in support of the legislation that was sent to Senate leaders. The Senate is expected to take up this legislation this month.

Updated Report on ARPA Funds released

The networks of the National Council of Nonprofits have revised and expanded the earlier edition of Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits to provide the latest federal guidance to governments and solutions for nonprofits seeking support from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. 

This resource can serve as a guide for governments, charitable nonprofits, and foundations on investing these funds – totaling $350 billion – to help communities respond, adapt, and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The updated and expanded edition of the Special Report recognizes that while nonprofits are eligible for Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (CSLFRF) resources, they are not automatically entitled to receive any funds.

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