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May Brings Opportunity for Nonprofit Advocacy as Legislative Activity Increases

As we move closer to the summer, temperatures rise and so does the intensity of legislative activity.  The month of May holds a lot of opportunity for nonprofit sector advocacy particularly at the state level.

FY 19 Budget Markup:

The Joint Finance Committee will begin reviewing the Governor’s Recommended Budget and making changes to reach a final FY 2019 Budget by the end of June.  Meetings will begin on May 22nd and will continue through the end of the month.  A full schedule of the Joint Finance Committee can be found here.

As we all remember from last year around this time there was significant concern over declining revenue in the State Budget and as a result significant cuts were made to balance the fiscal year 2018 budget.  Nonprofits collectively across state grants, contracts and grant-in-aid funds lost approximately $25 million to support community services.  This reduction resulted in lost jobs for nonprofit employees and reduced services to Delawareans.

Through our sector-wide advocacy efforts we’ve been able to share our key messages regarding investments into Delaware nonprofits with members of the Delaware General Assembly. Our key messages include:

  • Nonprofit organizations are small businesses serving as a critical component in our state’s economy, collectively serving as the third largest employer in the state.
  • Local communities rely on nonprofits for educational services, workforce development, health and social services, to attract visitors and to support government programs for housing, mental and behavioral health.
  • Investment in equitable nonprofit partners will result in a practical state budget.  Without nonprofits, government would spend two to three times more on community services.
  • At a time when careful spending is crucial to balancing the budget, and the need for services is great, it is essential for the state to strengthen its partnership with nonprofit agencies.

On Monday, May 21, 2018, the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Committee (DEFAC) noted that our state’s revenue estimates are approximately $203 million more than September 2017. Our legislators are hearing our call to action regarding appropriate funding of nonprofits. This is a critical point in our campaign to #SupportDENonprofits, and we need to keep our advocacy efforts strong

There are several options to engage in the conversation:

  • Call your legislators (again) and remind them an investment in nonprofits is an investment in economic development and urge them to restore all grant-in-aid funds to the FY19 budget.
  • Participate in one of DANA’s Sub-sector Advocacy Wednesdays scheduled through the month of June.
  • Attend Joint Finance Committee meetings at the end of May to hear changes to the budget as they occur.
  • Share your nonprofit organization’s story of impact on Facebook or Twitter and tag legislators in your community.  Please use #SupportDENonprofits in your post.

I’ll plan to tweet updates from JFC Budget Markup as they are happening, so please follow DANA on Twitter to gain insight or join the conversation.

In addition to monitoring progress on the FY19 Budget, below are other bills that DANA is tracking:

HB 260 w/ HA2, HA3: Creates a Grant-In-Aid Committee (Representative Longhurst/Senator Townsend). Passed the House unanimously.  Assigned to Senate Finance Committee.
HB 341 (Briggs King): Proposes a constitutional amendment that requires the General Assembly to wait 48 hours from the introduction of the budget appropriation bill, bond and capital improvement act, and act making appropriations for certain grants-in-aid bill, or any substantive amendment or substitute bill to such bills before voting on such legislation unless the General Assembly by a three-fourths vote waives this requirement. Assigned to House Administration Committee.
HB 360 (Keeley): Defines sexual harassment as an unlawful employment practice and clarifies the definition of employee to include state employees, persons providing services pursuant to a contract, or unpaid interns. Employers having more than 50 employees must provide sexual harassment training to their supervisory employees six months after they assume the supervisory role, and the training must be conducted every two years Considered in House Labor Committee on 4/25/2018.
 HB 416 (Ramone): Creates a tax exemption for non-profit owned swimming pools in New Castle County and Kent County. Assigned to House Housing & Community Affairs Committee. Not scheduled for a hearing.
HCR 61 (Postles): Requests the JFC reinstate GIA funds removed from current fiscal year. Assigned to House Administration Committee.  Not scheduled for hearing.
HS 1 to HB 104 (Smith): Mandates an increase in the rates paid to service providers according to the recommendations of the market study, so that by fiscal year 2021 the state would fund service
providers at 100% of the benchmarked rate. Also requires that the adequacy of the rate system be evaluated against performance measures that are commonly used to assess program quality.
Assigned to House Health & Human Development Committee
SB 10 (Marshall):  Increases the minimum wage required to be paid in this State by 50 cents a year beginning in 2017 and ending in 2020. Defeated in Senate 3/20/2018 .
SB 170 (Marshall): Increases the minimum wage in the State beginning in 2018 and ending in 2021 Considered in Senate Labor Committee on 5/2/2018.
Dover City Council Ordinance 2018-03 (Hare and Neal):  This ordinance establishes a fee to be levied on nonprofits who own property in the City of Dover to fund public safety capital projects. Ordinance on hold to give the public opportunity to weigh in and for City Council to research legal concerns.