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New Year, New Legislative Opportunities

photo of J.L. Haynes

by J.L. Hanes, Public Policy & Advocacy Manager

A new year means a new legislative session and new opportunities for the nonprofit sector to make progress on our goals. Along with some new faces, this legislative session opens with some exciting progress on one of DANA’s more highly anticipated legislative priorities: affordable healthcare for nonprofits. We’ve heard from our members that healthcare costs are increasing and a growing cost driver impacting workforce recruitment and retention goals. This year we are pursuing legislation in partnership with Senator McBride to allow state-affiliated nonprofits to purchase health, vision, and dental coverage through the state’s healthcare plan, as well as, exploring the creation of a nonprofit association healthcare plan.

Our other major policy priorities include our longtime goals of statewide investment in contract reassessment and increases to nonprofit allocations in Grant-In-Aid. Some of you participated in our listening session on nonprofit contracting with the state in which you identified pervasive process issues along with a general lack of funding to cover the services the state is consuming. To address this, we are exploring legislation to remedy these concerns.

While we are moving forward on our agenda, we are still soliciting input from our members to strengthen our policy solutions and ensure they are addressing your needs. Bi-monthly during the six months of the legislative session, DANA convenes a Public Policy Community of Practice in which we discuss issues facing the nonprofit sector, our solutions and agenda, and foster opportunities for our members to speak directly to legislators and state officials. These meetings are crucial for the public policy team at DANA to learn about issues you may be facing and how we can support you, so I encourage all of you to register, attend and participate.

 In addition to those meetings, DANA will hold opportunities for nonprofits to advocate directly and indirectly for nonprofit interests. Our first public policy event of the year is DANA’s Annual Budget Review. After the Governor’s State of the State Address and release of his recommended budget for fiscal year 2024, DANA holds a session to better understand the Governor’s priorities for the coming year and where nonprofits fit in. We invite representatives from the legislature and the Office of Management and Budget to offer insight and answer questions regarding the Governor’s Recommended Budget. The Annual Budget Review is but one opportunity for you to interact and share your concerns directly with legislators. We also hold Sub-sector Advocacy Days throughout the Legislative Session where we guide groups of nonprofits through Legislative Hall to talk directly to policymakers about your priorities.

DANA is committed to helping the nonprofit sector realize systemic change. To ensure that achieve goals for the sector your participation is essential. The collective impact of the nonprofit sector is undeniable in the lives of Delawareans and the state’s economic health; let’s make sure Delaware policymakers recognize the full force of the nonprofit sector advocating for change this year.