MCF Public Policy Update - May 30, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

 MCF Public Policy Update 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - Legislative Update, MCF Public Policy Retreat and More . . .

Philanthropy Strengthening Democracy – Public Policy Retreat, June 16

Congress is taking a serious look at a major tax overhaul, including changes to the charitable giving tax deductions and how philanthropy does its work. How do we make the case for favorable tax policy to promote charitable giving and philanthropy? We think a strong case is to be made through a democracy frame. Marian Nolan, President/CEO of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan will challenge us to change the narrative and speak to the value of the independent sector as an essential tool in a strong democracy. The MCF Public Policy Retreat will also feature grantmaking and nonprofit leaders who have strong ideas about what philanthropy can be doing to strengthen democracy and particularly during this time of dramatically shifting public policy. The MCF Public Policy Retreat is for members of MCF’s Government Relations and Public Policy Committee and for any MCF member who is interested in a new way to talk about the value of philanthropy and the independent sector or how to step up to strengthen democratic systems to address the urgency of this political moment. Register now. The retreat is on Friday, June 16 from 10 am to 3 pm at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners in downtown Saint Paul.

Minnesota Legislative Session Wrap Up

The Minnesota Legislature had a wild finish. It’s not unusual for all of the policy initiatives and the costs related to make them happen to come together in the final weeks of the legislative session in the form of big, omnibus budget bills. But this year, the details were far from negotiated-out between the legislature and the Governor as the legislative clock wound down, so they had to go into yet another special session overtime to get the work done.  MCF’s Policy in Focus provides summaries of the major budget bills. Check it out if you want to know about capitol projects that may be seeking grant support, what happened with education, health and human services and other funding, and how the tax bill might affect charitable giving and philanthropy. We include analysis with links to key news stories and copies of bills, budget spreadsheets and bill summaries. Policy in Focus is your tool for keeping up on public policy developments – both state and federal – of interest to Minnesota grantmakers.

Census Funding Approved by Legislature

The Minnesota Legislature shifted course from proposing deep cuts in the state demographer’s office to approving a budget that included a special increase to help the demographer prepare for the 2020 Census. The Governor’s veto citing the importance of census funding was part of making this shift. Advocating for this funding was one of MCF’s priorities for this legislative session. (Read about this in Policy in Focus.) With the boosted funding, the state will be able to provide assistance to counties and local governments, particularly smaller communities and those in Greater Minnesota, to gear-up to prepare for the count in 2020. They will also be able to start organizing community outreach. MCF worked on stories and commentaries about Minnesota’s census prep that appeared in the Star Tribune, Forum Communications, St. Cloud Times, MinnPost, MPR and tpt-PBS / Almanac. While we are making progress in Minnesota, larger questions loom about how well the 2020 Census will be handled on the federal level. Esquire reports on leadership, funding and policy issues raising concerns.

Endow Minnesota Conversation to Carry Forward

MCF introduced legislation to establish the Endow Minnesota tax credit to promote legacy giving through community foundations to support communities and nonprofits throughout the state. The bill’s ( HF2339 and SF2186) were introduced with bipartisan support from legislators from throughout the state. While not included in either the GOP legislators’ or Governor Dayton’s tax bills, MCF will continue to work through the summer and fall to make the case with lawmakers for impact of community foundations and the value of the Endow Minnesota tax credit.

“Johnson Amendment” and Voter Participation Gaps Featured in Giving Forum

Congress and the administration are serious about changing federal law to repeal the prohibition on political activity by nonprofit, tax exempt organizations, i.e. endorsing and giving money to candidates for public office or political parties. The Trump administration has backed this and it’s almost a certainty that it will be included in whatever tax bill comes out of the House Ways and Means Committee (Note: Minnesota Congressman Erik Paulsen is on this committee.) Read more about the Johnson Amendment it in Giving Forum (p.22). MCF strongly opposes repeal of this restriction on political activity by nonprofits and tax exempt organizations. Speaking of Giving Forum, learn about what may be behind racial voter participation gaps in Minnesota.

Renewed Push to Simplify Private Foundation Excise Tax

Congressman Erik Paulsen introduced legislation (HR2386) to simplify the private foundation excise tax by establishing a single, 1% tax rate. MCF is pleased to note that Congressman Rick Nolan joined Rep. Paulsen as an original co-author thanks to the advocacy support of the Blandin Foundation and Ordean Foundation. Securing enactment of excise tax simplification is an MCF priority.


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