Monday, April 19, 2010

Nonprofit Legislative Issues

The following Spring Legislative Agenda information is provided by NYCON's national affiliate the National Council of Nonprofits

With only six weeks remaining until Memorial Day recess, legislators have perhaps their last and best chance to reach bi-partisan agreement on major bills before the election season is fully upon them. The following provides a synopsis of key bills we are following:

Financial Regulatory Reform and Consumer Protection: The Senate is expected to take up a bill to overhaul regulation of the financial services sector, but all 41 Republican Senators signed a letter expressing opposition to the measure as currently written. This stalemate could change, however, due to a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Goldman Sachs alleging fraud in transactions at the root of the market collapse. The consumer protection components of the bill are of interest to many nonprofits.

Federal Budget for FY 2011: The Senate and House Budget Committees are finalizing their budget resolutions in preparation for floor action scheduled for the coming weeks. The odds are that Congress will not be successful in adopting a formal budget, which is frequently the case in election years. The debate is still worth following because leaders use the document to establish priorities, and rank-and-file members frequently seek to force votes on controversial issues, such as advocacy rights and the estate tax.

American Workers, State and Business Relief Act of 2010: This bill, which includes extension of the IRA Rollover and provides pension funding relief and $28 billion in additional funds to help the states balance their budgets, passed the Senate in March and must be reconciled with a House-passed bill. There is bi-partisan support for each of the initiatives, but legislators must come up with around $30 billion in additional revenues to pay for the bill.

Estate Tax: The tax expired at the end of 2009, but will return to higher 2001 levels next year. The President has proposed restoring the tax at 2009 levels - exemptions of $3.5 million/individual and a tax rate of 45%; Senators Lincoln (D-AR) and Kyl (R-AZ) are calling for weakening the estate tax by raising the exemption to $5 million/individual and lowering the tax rate to 35%. A weaker estate tax would generate nearly $100 billion less to the U.S. Treasury and provide less of an incentive for charitable giving.

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