What You Need to Know About Public Policy This Week...
- News From the Council
- White House Fact Sheet Summarizes New Federal Funds for Local Communities
- National Solar Credit Ready Initiative and Philanthropic Partnership
- Department of Commerce Seeks Community of Practice Leader
- Democrats Continue Negotiations on Build Back Better
- Happening in the States
Kathleen Enright on Donor-Advised Funds and Democratizing Giving
In 2022, the Council will launch the Public Policy Action Network, a group of foundation leaders and staff using their voices, experiences, and networks to engage and educate federal elected officials to foster a policy environment in which philanthropy can thrive. As part of this Network, you will participate in monthly Policy Updates from the Council, assist with scheduling annual meetings with your members of Congress, and enjoy additional opportunities to engage with policymakers and be an advocate for foundations. Council members can join today.
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Please feel free to reach out to any of us on the Government Relations Team with comments or concerns, or to share an issue, article, event, or op-ed you would like to see covered in a future Washington Snapshot.
With many pundits predicting that November’s midterm elections will likely result in Republicans picking up seats in Congress, Democrats are eager for passage of the president’s priorities in the coming months. This week, congressional Democrats continued negotiations on the Build Back Better agenda, with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) telling Politico he is still hopeful about its passage despite continued disputes about the bill’s contents. Among other issues, Democrats disagree about the legislation’s size and scope, as well as whether it should include changes to the State and Local Tax Deduction and an extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit. Possible resolutions include a bill with only core priorities all Democrats can agree on or a series of smaller bills, at least some of which would have to be bipartisan due to the filibuster rule in the Senate.
The White House has released a summary of 25 available or soon-to-be-available sources of funding that local governments—particularly cities—can compete or apply for directly. A comprehensive guidebook of all available funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Credit Ready Solar Initiative at the National Solar Partnership (NCSP) Annual Summit on January 25. This initiative brings together lenders, philanthropic institutions, and community solar developers—especially those that are community-based or serve low- to moderate-income households—to create the marketplace for deploying project capital. Community solar projects enable multiple customers to benefit from the revenue produced by a solar array, which can be a powerful tool for bringing affordable solar energy to more Americans. NCSP is a coalition of over 800 stakeholders that collaborate to expand access to community solar to every American household, with a focus on reducing the energy burden in underserved communities. Join the partnership.
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) is seeking a lead organization with the capacity and expertise to lead a Community of Practice for the 60 finalists of the “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” (BBBRC). Regional coalition finalists are now competing for Phase 2 of the Challenge that will award 20-30 regional coalitions up to $100 million to implement 3-8 projects that support an industry sector. The Community of Practice leader will bring expertise and foster collaboration, peer learning, and exchange of best practices among applicants over a period of four years. Applicants will need to demonstrate capabilities to:
- Create a “marketplace” for member regional coalitions to access a broader funding community (public, private, philanthropic, etc.) to promote the long-term sustainability of their projects.
- Focus the regional coalitions on the necessary process and policy improvements to achieve their transformational goals.
Applications for the Community of Practice leader must be submitted by February 28, 2022. EDA anticipates that the funding award will range between $2 million and $4 million. Interested applicants should review the American Rescue Plan Statewide Planning, Research, and Networks Notice of Funding Opportunity for eligibility information, evaluation criteria, and other details. Applicants must submit proposals through Grants.gov using the existing Notice of Funding Opportunity. Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.
States Enacting a Patchwork of Conflicting Vaccination Restrictions
One of the most active areas of legislative introductions so far this year is employment policies affecting nonprofit and for-profit employers alike. A bill in the Idaho House and Senate would amend existing law to provide that freedom from discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity is a civil right. Last week, the Mississippi House overwhelmingly passed an equal pay bill, which would provide state legal recourse for employees paid less for the same work based on gender. Similarly, an Indiana pay equity bill would prohibit employers from paying wages that discriminate based on sex for substantially similar work. It would also bar retaliation against employees who inquire about their wages, requiring nondisclosure of wage as a condition of employment, or requiring an employee to sign a document that denies the employee the right to disclose their wage information. A new bill in the Nebraska unicameral would allow counties to enact a county minimum wage that is higher than the state minimum wage rate. The Vermont House is considering a bill (H. 257) that would mandate that employers receiving state funds must a) certify compliance with state fair employment practices; b) provide a reliable work schedule; c) limit pay ratios of no more than 10 times (highest compared to lowest); d) limit terminations to a good cause; and e) refrain from interfering with unionization and collective bargaining rights. Many of the bills are sponsored by lawmakers in the minority party of their state and are unlikely to be enacted this year, but the scope and range of the legislative proposals clearly reflect both the pandemic and views on the lack of progress on these issues at the federal level.
Regulating Fundraising Platforms
Starting in 2023, California law (AB 488) will require online giving platforms—like Amazon Smile, GoFundMe, and Network for Good—to disclose all processing fees upfront, get consent, in most cases, before using a nonprofit’s name to solicit funds, and distribute donations to nonprofits promptly, among other things. Online platforms will have to register with the California Attorney General (AG), placing them under the AG’s jurisdiction and supervision going forward. According to Jan Masaoka, CEO of CalNonprofits, “This legislation impacts every single person who clicks on that ‘donate now’ button and every single nonprofit that receives funding this way.”