Observing Texas lobbying and campaign regulations

State associations and activist nonprofit organizations must be familiar with the Texas regulatory environment governing lobbying, campaign or election activities during this lively election year and the coming 85th Texas legislative session in January 2017.

Avoiding violations of these laws and regulations was the subject of a presentation on August 26 at the State Bar of Texas 14th Annual Governance of Nonprofit Organizations course. Read the presentation summary here. [Read more…]

Monitoring bills in the 2015 Texas Legislature made easy

A useful and amazingly nimble website maintained by the State of Texas empowers anyone to monitor proposed bills pending in the Texas Legislature.

Texas Legislature Online, www.capitol.state.tx.us, is available to all without charge and is as comprehensive and dependable as expensive online services used by lobbyists, law firms, activists, reporters and state associations. With a little practice, you can become your own legislative analyst, keep your organization up to date with developments in Austin during the session, and impress your friends and associates with your current and deep knowledge of legislative matters. [Read more…]

Texas Legislature 2015 Preview

Issues to consider in reviewing Texas legislative proposals that affect nonprofits

The 84th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, will be called to order on January 13, 2015, but already hundreds of proposed bills have been pre-filed by sponsors in the House and Senate. About 6,000 bills will be filed during the session. The challenge becomes how to sort through them and identify the bills that directly affect the nonprofit sector and the interests of community leaders, volunteers and those who support community-based organizations, statewide associations and foundations. [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…]

“Best Practices” strengthen nonprofits but they can bite!

Best practices” are models for conduct and management prevalent in a field that others look to in evaluating an organization’s status. These include internal policies, voluntarily-adopted standards, professional practice and ethical standards, conditions in funding grants (government and private), accounting standards, trade association standards, insurers’ and lenders’ underwriting standards, media perceptions of right and wrong, and other commonly-recognized guidelines.   Not always clear or binding, best practices when ignored can have the same negative impact on a nonprofit as a violation of law, negligent act, or other culpable conduct. [Read more…]