New “Form 1295” contract reporting law includes nonprofit vendors or grantees

Many nonprofits may encounter a new compliance requirement that doesn’t make a lot of sense. The 2015 Texas legislative session saw a lot of activity regarding the contracting and procurement procedures of state and local government agencies. One result was the passage of House Bill 1295, which requires filing with the Texas Ethics Commission the new Form 1295 detailing the business or nonprofit organization entering into a contract of $1 million or more with a state or local government entity. [Read more…]

Texas Legislature’s “interim committee” work picks up in 2016 — stay informed

Much of the preparation and work for the 2017 legislative session will be initiated during the 2016 interim period by House and Senate committees through “charges” issued by the speaker and lieutenant governor. Stakeholders, advocacy groups and interested persons should monitor these committee agendas and be alert to background research, policy discussions, consensus-building and committee public hearings. These activities can result in important bill drafts that emerge full-blown early in the 2017 session, often with considerable member support. At that point, it may be too late to influence or oppose a bill or policy shift that has accrued broad support. [Read more…]

Texas Legislature may abolish the Texas Nonprofit Council

The Texas Nonprofit Council was created by the 2013 Texas Legislature in Senate Bill 993 to bring formality to an earlier state task force that was planned to enhance the role of the nonprofit sector in state government.

The purpose of the council was to strengthen the “footprint” of nonprofit organizations in state government contracting opportunities, policy-making and other interactions. The council was also required to make recommendations to the legislature to advance the nonprofit sector. Faith-based and community-based organizations were to be given special emphasis.

For reasons now forgotten, the council’s administration was placed inside the gigantic Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Therein lies the reason for its current uncertain future.

Senate Bill 200, voted favorably from a Senate committee on April 7, advances the highly-contested ongoing merger of several remaining semi-autonomous HHSC agencies. It also specifically abolishes a score of advisory councils and advisory committees within HHSC that have been authorized over the years by successive legislature enactments. Listed on Pages 46 and 47 of bill are specific references to abolishing the Texas Nonprofit Council and its enabling statute, Government Code Section 535.055.

There has been little attention to this development, but the time has arrived to raise this issue with your state senator or representative if the council’s role within state government could benefit your organization and its mission. Although initially authorized to operate through 2019, the council has not really been given the opportunity to fulfill its role and succeed.

© 2015 Richard W. Meyer, All Rights Reserved

2015 Texas Legislative Summary for nonprofits – Mid-session report

With more than 6,200 bills filed by Texas legislators now in play, anyone attending or following long committee meetings or floor sessions at the Texas Capitol will test their patience, attention span, caffeine tolerance or lumbar endurance.

Nonprofit organizations, state associations and foundations are affected by dozens of proposed bills, directly or indirectly. The April 1, 2015 SUMMARY OF ISSUES AFFECTING NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS is available here and will be updated regularly through the June adjournment of the 84th regular session and after. Share it with your colleagues and friends and receive updates by clicking the Subscribe box on this page. [Read more…]

Expanding the nonprofit purpose

12th Annual Governance of Nonprofit Organizations
State Bar of Texas, August 21-22, 2014, Austin,Texas

I.  Introduction

Accepted definitions and understandings of the concept of “charitable” or “charitable purpose”, as currently applied to tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, may no longer accommodate an evolving nonprofit sector economy where the public benefit or social purpose aspirations of people and innovative organizations seek societal good and social change in new ways. In 2013 the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 849 that permits for-profit corporations to fold certain social purposes into their management responsibilities. This reflects trends and legislation in other states that point to new forms of for-profit social purpose or social benefit entities that could shift accepted meanings of charitable purpose. [Read more…]