Legislative proposals affecting nonprofit organizations, state associations and foundations are among the 7,000-plus bills on file at this halfway point in the 140-day 2021 session. My complete summary can be read and printed here. In a challenging economic environment, nonprofits should look to opportunities for contracting and partnerships with state and local governments as well as accessing funding programs that have been generated through government disaster response, pandemic response and economic stimulus measures. Look through the legislative summary for new revenue-generating sources and expanded programs that align with your mission.
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.
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.
My August 24 presentation at the 15th Annual State Bar Governance of Nonprofit Organizations course is available here. I received a positive response from those attending and welcome your comments or questions regarding the paper.
The 85th Legislature’s First Special Session ended on August 14, and there were no developments of note regarding nonprofit organizations, foundations and state associations. Updates and items of interest will be posted here during the current “interim” period before the legislature returns in January 2019.