As the first speaker at the State Bar annual seminar, I presented a summary of relevant legislative activity in the 2021 Texas Legislature Regular Session. The summary can be read and printed here. Two called special sessions after the regular session, and a third set for September 20, may provide further developments, which will be updated as necessary.
Year 2020 challenged non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with a pandemic, an economic slowdown and uncertainty about the responses of newly-elected government leaders, including the legislators now gathered in Austin for the 87th Regular Session. Nonprofit organizations, foundations and associations of all types are searching for new programs to serve the public and their stakeholders. Leaders from across the nation gathered January 21-22 for the 38th Annual University of Texas School of Law Nonprofit Organizations Institute. I delivered my observations along with co-presenter, Ross Ramsey, executive editor of the Texas Tribune. (Read and print the entire paper here.)
Although it’s hard to predict the direction the legislature will take, there are numerous opportunities to engage issues that should not be ignored: formalized and centralized disaster relief response by nonprofits and volunteer groups; surviving and operating under changing federal and state disaster declarations, emergency orders and federal and state regulatory edicts; access to federal relief funds passed down to local agencies; using the 2020 census and redistricted political boundaries to grow into new relationships; and societal change underlying civil rights, criminal law enforcement and social justice issues.
My observations and other earlier legislative summaries are available here and will be updated during the 2021 Texas Legislative Session.
Organizations of all types that serve the public good have been challenged to sustain their programs in the troubling COVID-19 environment. Sound governance, prudent financial management, a focused mission and sound business plan can sustain most nonprofit enterprises and associations. Others less prepared may face an uncertain future. My presentation (view and print it here) at the Texas State Bar’s 18th annual nonprofit organizations course echoed the advice of other professionals, who also recognize new realities presented in 2020 and the need to adapt programs and operations. My co-presenter was Adrianna Cuellar Rojas, President and CEO of United Ways of Texas.
The opening session of the 37th Annual University of Texas School of Law Nonprofit Organizations Institute on January 24 featured insights by The Texas Tribune executive editor Ross Ramsey and my presentation (view and print it here) regarding the state’s booming economy, changing demographics, state revenue needs and the challenges in the 2021 legislative session facing state leaders. The economic impact of the Texas nonprofit sector was highlighted by a new study from the United Ways of Texas. As state and local governments continue to maximize limited resources, they increasingly look to competent nonprofit organizations to perform privatized government functions and operate social service programs as contractors or grantees. (View and print the entire presentation)
This legislative summary for Texas nonprofits and state associations highlights legislation of interest in the 86th Texas Regular Session. View and print the entire final end-of-session report here. Issues covered in the bills listed include helpful additions to the Texas Nonprofit Corporation Law in Chapter 22, Business Organizations Code, relating to defective corporate acts; SB 943, which requires greater disclosure and transparency by organizations receiving public funds; and limitations on the civil liability of disaster relief volunteers and groups.