Public Policy Season of Change

I love October. The air turns crisp, the leaves start to turn, delicious apples are in season and every two years an election cycle is in full swing, which makes my policy-loving heart swell a little. While I am sure we can all agree 2020 has been different for a number or reasons, what I find most interesting is the public policy space never found its typical fall hiatus. There is a lot underway both here in Delaware and on the national stage, so let us dig into the details.

U.S. Census to Continue through October

Remember the Census?  The U.S. Census is conducted every 10 years to count the number of people in our country. If you lost sight of the Census in 2020, do not worry, you are not alone.  Operations related to Census 2020 were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and everyone’s attention was focused on the news of the response efforts to it. While an initial request was made to extend the deadline to complete the Census, the Trump Administration opted to shorten the window by moving up the deadline from October 31st to September 30th.  This posed a significant concern for accomplishing a complete count, particularly in native, minority and urban communities. On October 2, the Census Bureau sent out a statement to census takers saying “As a result of court orders…data collection operations will continue through October 31, 2020.” So, the vital work of census collection continues. It is not too late to encourage everyone around you to complete a census – which can be done online or by phone – to mitigate the COVID-19 transmission risks. Why is this so important to Delaware? The 2020 Census will determine representation, inform billions in federal funding, and provide data that will impact Delaware communities for the next decade. For more information, please visit the Delaware Census 2020 website.

Trump Issues Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping

Most of you know that DANA has been offering trainings to nonprofits, in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Many other nonprofits in our state and across the nation are doing an amazing job of unpacking issues of inequity in our communities and workplaces, and these conversations are critical to improving policy and relationships.  This is why an Executive Order from President Trump on September 22nd, “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping” intending to diminish the amount of training that takes place is so disturbing. DANA is signing onto a letter, with our counterparts across the country, requesting that the president rescind this order as it will create confusion and uncertainty and will impede employers from implementing programs to promote diversity and combat discrimination in the workplace.

Status on Additional Coronavirus Relief from Feds

I am sure everyone has been waiting on pins and needles to see what will become of any additional Coronavirus Relief Funding, particularly as it pertains to supporting nonprofits. While much of the activity is clouded by the impending election, there is also a matter of the appointment of a replacement on the Supreme Court after the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  This seems like a movie, but it is just the apocalyptic conclusion to 2020 that we are experiencing. There have been a few iterations of legislative language to provide additional support to businesses, nonprofits, and the people of our country but there has been no real conclusion to the negotiations. Recently, President Trump publicly indicated he wanted the Senate to shift their focus to confirming his nominee to the Supreme Court, and that more relief will come once he’s re-elected.  The National Council of Nonprofits put out a statement indicating that it is unacceptable to give up on our country’s nonprofits, given that our work to navigate COVID-19 response continues.

DEFAC to Meet on October 19th

Back here in Delaware, while we are all navigating how COVID-19 impacts our lives and organizations, some business as usual will continue. In October, we start to get serious about the next fiscal year budget, and the economic impacts of COVID-19 are real. The first opportunity to get an understanding of the specifics will come at the October 19th Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council Meeting.  While these meetings have been held virtually since March, there is no information on the website with location at this point. The Council will discuss the current financial forecast and start with projections for the fiscal year 2022 budget.

Legislative Engagement for 2021

If you have not done so, now is a great time to set up time with your current elected officials, as well as leads in agencies with whom your organization partners, and discuss the work you are doing. There are ample opportunities to attend virtual coffees with your elected officials and share the work you are doing in the community and how COVID-19 is impacting your organization. It’s important to develop these relationships now in preparation for the coming legislative session. If you are expecting a new legislator, take the time to send a note after the election congratulating them, requesting a meeting, and offering your expertise. We all need to be partners to serve Delaware to the best of our collective ability.

We are all working together to navigate this still uncertain landscape. With potential changes of policymakers, reading the news can make it all feel overwhelming. In this season of change, I can tell you that I think constantly of the work I get to do with the amazing people in our state’s nonprofit sector. Each of you is so dedicated to the greater good that the future fills me with overwhelming hope despite the many unknowns. That said, take a walk, enjoy some apple cider, and FALL into a rhythm of advocacy to combat the unknown. Together we can change the world.  

As always, I am available to address questions or concerns and may be reached at [email protected].