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.
The 2021 legislative session featured a number of bills reflecting issues and policies that leaders in the Texas nonprofit sector should consider. My final summary can be read and printed here. There were few bills that appeared contra to the interests of nonprofit organization operations and governance or that impose new regulations on nonprofits. Despite COVID restrictions when the session began plus the February ice storm, legislators warmed up things later in the session and left several contested subjects for a planned special session later in 2021: redistricting, criminal bail reform, voting procedures and whatever else the governor directs. Among the bills that did not pass listed below are seeds of opportunity for subsequent sessions. There were 6,927 total bills and resolutions filed in the House and Senate, and 1073 passed or were adopted in some form. Print the Summary
My presentation for the annual State Bar of Texas Governance of Nonprofit Organizations seminar on August 22 is available to view and print here. Attendees and presenters included attorneys, accountants, association and nonprofit managers, and foundation executives, making for a useful and informative mix of expertise and opinions.
The 86th Texas Legislature began its 140-day regular session on January 8. The race is on to monitor and react to those bills among the more than 6,000 to be filed that affect state associations, community-based nonprofits, foundations and groups that benefit from state funding or are regulated by state policies. Committees for the House and Senate will soon be appointed, and the real work will begin.
Sign up here for my regular updates during the session. By the “60th day” of the session (March 8) when filing of bills ends, there will be a better view of specific bills of interest that deserve your attention.
As a preview of the 2019 session, see my January 18 presentation at the 36th Annual University of Texas School of Law nonprofit seminar entitled Advancing the Common Good in the Texas Legislative Process: Do nonprofits have a special role and status in public affairs? Read or print the paper here.
As a bit of self-examination for any organization entering the policy and legislative arena, it’s proper to raise a few questions:
- Are our activities truly advancing our stated charitable mission and the interests of our members and stakeholders?
- Does our messaging to the public calm and elevate the debate on contested issues?
- Do our proposals advance the common good?
- Do we support policies and bills that benefit and not burden the thousands of community leaders and volunteers supporting local, community-based organizations?
- How are our initiatives different from any other special interest group seeking favors from the legislature?
- How are our activities perceived by the news media?
- Is our organization competing for favors or public dollars with similar groups or private interests?
For a review of issues and bills from previous legislative sessions (many return again and again), see my Texas Legislative Summary postings going back to 2003.
State associations of all varieties play an important role in public life in modern America. Almost everyone is directly or indirectly a member of one, whether it is a statewide professional organization, an organized sports league, parent-teacher organization, conservation organization or business league. My overview of the scale and importance of the state association sector was presented at the August 2018 State Bar nonprofit governance course and is available here.