Seminar commentary on 2015 Texas legislation affecting nonprofits

Three months after adjournment of the 2015 Texas Legislature, reflecting on issues and trends raised during the session is in order. My presentation on August 13 at the annual State Bar of Texas Governance Nonprofit Organizations seminar is available here, and it highlights these items of interest:

  • The overall regulatory environment for nonprofit entities in Texas remains “light” in comparison to other states where there are extensive annual registration or licensing requirements with fees, regulation of solicitations from the public, mandatory public disclosure of organizational finances and other state government compliance regimes.
  • There were no significant changes to the Texas Nonprofit Corporation Law in Chapter 22 of the Texas Business Organizations Code, which is the primary body of law relating to nonprofit governance and disclosure issues.
  • The legislature showed continuing interest in granting legal immunity or limiting the liability of volunteers, first responders, volunteers supervising local amateur athletic events, and licensed professionals who volunteer during a disaster response.

These were some interesting developments:

  • House Bill 1151 defined for the first time the term “unpaid intern of an employer”. Unpaid interns are a common asset enjoyed by nonprofit organizations, and now these interns are given limited legal rights to initiate a workplace discrimination complaint or legal proceeding.
  • Major league professional sports organizations in Texas that maintain a captive charity or charitable foundation will benefit from HB 975 if its companion constitutional amendment carried in HJR 73 is approved by the voters in November. It will permit these clubs to operate a high-dollar “50-50” raffle in their venue at each home game to benefit their charity and some lucky attendee who purchases the winning ticket that day.
  • State agency fee renewal forms for vehicle registration renewals, hunting licenses, and license-to-carry applications, among others, will feature a check-off box to enable an additional voluntary contribution to a specific charity referenced in one of these bills. Unfortunately, charitable causes that did not benefit from this round of legislation may line up in the next session to become beneficiaries of this mode of state government-encouraged donations by the public. The proliferation of Texas’ specialized, cause-specific auto license plates has gotten out of hand. Will adding check-off donation boxes to numerous other state agency forms take the same course? Why not add a voluntary donation surcharge for each fee generated on your auto toll tag? The possibilities are endless.

Read the full State Bar seminar presentation summary here.

© 2015 Richard W. Meyer, All Rights Reserved


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