What You Need to Know About Public Policy This Week...
- News From the Council
- Supreme Court Releases Decision on California Donor Disclosure Case
- White House Announces Measures to Mitigate End of Eviction Moratorium
- House Urges Biden Administration to Step Up Assistance to India
- USDA Seeks Input on Racial Justice and Equity
- Happening in the States
Leading Together 2021 explored the themes of trust and equity as crucial elements of transformative philanthropy. Read reflections on the conference experience from six sector experts:
- Knowing Yourself to Better Know Others: Advancing Equity by Adam Ganuza
- The LA Story: Bringing All Voices to the Table by Roy Agloinga
- Storytelling as a Pathway to Equity by Ayushi Vig
- Reinventing Our Battered World through Kindness and Curiosity by Nell Edgington
- Unexpected Partners and Unlikely Allies: Seeking Common Ground by David R. McGhee
- Normal Wasn't Working: Raising the Bar by Donita Volkwijn
Supreme Court Releases Decision on California Donor Disclosure Case
On Thursday, the Supreme Court released its decision overturning California’s donor disclosure law, stating that it violated the First Amendment. In April, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the cases brought by two conservative nonprofits that argued California’s requirement violated donors’ First Amendment rights. The State of California argued that the proactive requirement helped the state identify bad actors. The Court found that any requirement needed to be more tailored to the specific government’s interest and the state had other channels by which to achieve its goal of identifying fraud or self-dealing. The Council will continue to analyze this decision and its potential impact on the charitable sector. For additional context, see the Associated Press’s coverage.
While the Council firmly opposes mandatory public disclosure of donors, we support appropriate, private disclosure to the federal government as required by law to ensure the sector is a trusted partner in advancing the greater good.
On Tuesday, the House approved H. Res. 402 on a bipartisan basis. The resolution urges the Biden Administration to step up assistance to India as the country struggles to cope with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other provisions, the resolution acknowledges India’s need for medical assistance and calls for the White House to facilitate private medical supply donations to India and neighboring countries. It also calls on the private sector to increase resources donated to the region.
White House Announces Measures to Mitigate End of Eviction Moratorium
The White House announced a series of actions on June 24 designed to keep people in their homes by protecting renters and homeowners who are still experiencing shocks from the pandemic and its economic fallout. This announcement followed the earlier action by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to extend the rental eviction moratorium through July 31. CDC stated that this will be the last extension.
The American Rescue Plan allocated $21.5 billion for Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) in addition to the $25 billion allocated by previous COVID-19 relief legislation. These federal funds are available through state and local governments and can be used by renters to cover arrears and make landlords whole. There have been significant challenges in getting the money to those at risk of losing their housing because of the lack of available infrastructure at the state and local levels to distribute this emergency rental assistance quickly and efficiently.
The Biden Administration's earlier guidance on May 7 did help local governments move more funds to more renters in need, but the process must be sped up to avoid the potential of 11 million evictions.
Regarding mortgage payment assistance, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced several measures on June 25 to help homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages who are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With an eye toward stabilizing the housing market, the foreclosure moratorium for federally backed mortgages is also extended to July 31. Other measures are intended to provide additional, immediate relief including expanded outreach and home retention options for struggling homeowners (who are disproportionately people of color) and an expanded initial forbearance request timeframe.
USDA Seeks Input on Racial Justice and Equity
On June 16, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a federal register notice for public input on racial justice and equity in line with the Biden Administration’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. USDA’s goal is to identify barriers that people of color, underserved communities, and others face in accessing information related to USDA services. The notice is available for comments until July 15.
Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.
States Allocate ARPA for Nonprofit Relief and Recovery
As states grapple with how to spend the $350 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds, many lawmakers are beginning to allocate their share to help nonprofits. The Connecticut Legislature passed a biennial budget authorizing a substantial portion of the state’s $2.6 billion in ARPA funds to the work of charitable organizations, including $280 million in additional funding for community nonprofit providers of health and human services and more than $100 million in nonprofit programs and services for homeless service agencies, food pantries, arts and culture organizations, and more. Louisiana Governor Edwards recently signed legislation to establish the Louisiana Small Business and Nonprofit Assistance Program spending all but $400 million of the state’s allocation of ARPA funds for 2021. The program will provide grants up to $25,000 to small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, including public charities and faith-based organizations, to administer aid to individuals impacted by COVID-19. In Vermont, legislators allocated $599 million in ARPA funds for significant investments in nonprofit priorities, including broadband, infrastructure, housing, and climate change mitigation.
A bill moving in North Carolina would use about $1 billion of the state’s ARPA funds to create a new Job Opportunity and Business Saving Grant Program (JOBS Program) to make automatic grants to many nonprofits that have previously received loans or grants from various federal programs under the CARES Act or state relief programs. Read the special report, Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits, for more ideas for investing ARPA funds to support the work of charitable nonprofits.