May 22, 2015

Federal

House and Senate Conferring to Come Up with One Really Problematic Federal Budget

Federal budgetBob Greenstein from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has produced a brief but pointed review of what’s wrong with the House and Senate budgets that conferees are now discussing on Capitol Hill.

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Gen. Petraeus Gets Sweetheart Deal for Leaks Compared to Tough Prosecution of Whistleblowers

Legitimate whistleblowers find themselves skewered by the Obama administration while General Petraeus is let off with two years of probation and a fine.

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Does Nonprofit Status Work with a Medical Marijuana License? This Failed Competitor Says No

Marijuana growingAfter winning a “pot license,” an Illinois nonprofit has been challenged by a rival over whether the dichotomy between state and federal law makes it ineligible to apply due to tax-exempt status.

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Why Was the Iowa/Nebraska Health Insurance Co-Op Allowed to Fail?

NewsThe senators questioning why more money wasn’t available for the CoOportunity health insurance co-op in Iowa might look to the federal budget cuts they enacted.

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Right-Wing Think Tanks Line Up to Spur Supreme Court to Kill Obamacare

Repeal ObamacareIt should come as no surprise that the lineup of entities trying to scuttle the Affordable Care Act in King v. Burwell comprises the nation’s top right-wing think tanks and other dyed-in-the-wool opponents of extending health insurance coverage through federal government support.

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Combatting the Cost of College Tuition in 2015

Tuition costsThe cuts to higher education that state governments made when budgets were tighter than ever have not been restored.

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UK Cuts Funding to Muslim Charities Accused of Extremist Ties

NewsAfter years of allegations against several of its member groups, the UK has cut funding to the Muslim Charities Forum.

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NY AG Sides with Elderly against Salvation Army in Building Sale Fight

NewsYesterday, N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a motion to block the sale of a Salvation Army senior housing facility to a luxury developer.

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Educating the New (Very Homegrown) Congressional Class

Educating CongressBy their own descriptions, the new Senators and Representatives whose election will expand Republican control of Congress seem to have little knowledge of, or contact with, nonprofits. To teach them, we’ll have to get to know them.

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Fair or Foul? A Review of Federal Tax Laws Governing Unfair Competition

FairThis article outlines the nonprofit legal issues that emerge when nonprofits and for-profits compete in each others’ fields of endeavor.

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Twitter Sues U.S. Government for Censoring Transparency Report

TwitterTwitter has made a public announcement that it will be suing the United States government for violating its rights to freedom of speech.

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Round 2 for the Affordable Care Act: The Agenda for Nonprofits

ACAMuch of what the ACA accomplished in its first year is attributable to the nonprofit sector. Here’s what nonprofits will confront in Year 2.

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Will New Combined Federal Campaign Rule Stem its Precipitous Decline?

ArrowsThe new CFC campaign has relaxed restrictions on where donations can be directed. Will that encourage more giving and help reverse its faltering course?

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Farmers Market Application for Nonprofit Status Takes 2 Years

Local MarketThe IRS has recently gotten tough on approvals for 501(c)(3) designations—but the lengthy delay on a California farmers’ market doesn’t make sense.

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Fixing Social Security Before We All Retire: Gene Steuerle’s Advice

SSFor much of America’s labor force, retirement means trying to make do on Social Security—a system that urgently needs fixing.

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IRS Seeks to Destroy Hard Drives, Changes Story on Lerner’s Data

Hard driveEvery scandal has its silly season where the news leaves one shaking their head in disbelief. The IRS scandal has hit such a point.

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Social Impact Bonds: Phantom of the Nonprofit Sector

PodsSometimes the nonprofit sector appears haunted by the specters of unproven “great ideas.” Do social impact bonds fit in that category?

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Why the Obama White House Says “No!” to the America Gives More Act

EggThe America Gives More Act passed the House of Representatives this week. Just about every Republican who could find his or her way to the floor voted in favor of the proposed charitable incentives for food donations, conservation easements, and the IRA rollover, but most Democrats, including the most powerful members of the House leadership, voted against the bill and the White House is threatening a veto. Why are Democrats giving House Republicans a legislative “win” on these charitable giving incentives, and how might they craft a strategy that brings Democratic support under the proper terms of engagement?

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House Guts IRS Tax Enforcement Budget; Nonprofit Sector Silence Is Deafening

CutsIt has been said that there really isn’t a problem of nonprofit accountability, but of regulatory oversight and enforcement of nonprofit standards by the IRS. If the U.S. House of Representatives gets its way, the IRS tax enforcement division will be slashed by 25 percent and the overall IRS budget by 13 percent, effectively gutting expectations of robust oversight by the Service.

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SCOTUS to Rule on Future of Public Sector Unions

UnionIt has been a very consequential run of decisions by the Supreme Court. This week, expect the court to make a momentous statement about the future of public sector unions.

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Time for an Independent Review to Fix the IRS

IRSThe news that the IRS rejected the 501(c)(4) application of a liberal-leaning group in Arkansas is more evidence that the IRS was examining more than just Tea Party organizations during the days of the Lois Lerner scandal. Nonetheless, the recent performance of the IRS on a number of issues, particularly the lost Lerner emails, suggests that it is time to take this brouhaha out of the hands of an overly politicized Congress and give it to an independent counsel, not just to figure out who might have been culpable for doing things wrong, but to resurrect the Service as a vital federal agency that Americans should be able to rely on and trust.

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Eight Sobering Thoughts for Social Impact Bond Supporters

8Among some promoters of social impact bonds, one might find a tendency toward irrational exuberance. They’ll slip into language that suggests the market discipline purportedly inserted into social programming by private capital is much more broadly applicable to a range of social problems than experience so far bears out. We have some enthusiasm-tempering considerations that SIB advocates and critics might reflect upon.

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Is the 1023-EZ a Step Backward for Regulators and Nonprofits?

NewsThe IRS’s proposed short form for tax-exemption as a charity shrinks a 22-page Form 1023 to a three-page Form 1023-EZ. Easier to fill out and approve, but is requiring no documentation from new charities a wise move? Some advocates think not.

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Many Red States Are Largest Recipients of Federal Assistance

StatesA new study shows how significantly the incomes of residents in many states, particularly “red states,” depend on federal government transfers.

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As Obama Focuses on Black Men and Boys, What About Black Women?

AfricanProminent black men in the U.S. are concerned that President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative excludes black women and girls.

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New Attack on Planned Parenthood Appears Anemic, but Who Knows?

 

PPAnother attack on Planned Parenthood, straight from the recycle bin.

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The Continuing Importance of Whistleblowers: The VA Controversy and More

WHistleIf it weren’t for whistleblowers in government and in business, major entities would become complacent and smug. Whistleblowers make public agencies like the Veterans Affairs department at the federal level, the office of Governor Susan Martinez at the state level, and many corporate entities do what they might not otherwise—reexamine their operations for shortcomings, failures, and illegalities.

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Infrastructure for Marijuana Businesses Still Blocked by Feds’ Ambiguity

COAs marijuana is legalized either for medical purposes or for recreational use, depending on the state, an infrastructure must be built around it. Some of that infrastructure is limited by its continued categorization as an illegal drug on the federal level.

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Disband and Replace the Veterans Affairs Department?

NewsWill nonprofits fall for the siren call of carving up the Veterans Affairs Department and turning its functions over to nonprofit service deliverers? That’s the suggestion of some small government conservatives, but not Arizona senator John McCain.

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Social Impact Bonds Not Well Received at Senate Budget Hearing

?Although Senator Mark Warner suggested that government was pretty incapable of understanding, finding, and funding programs that work, his solution—that the market discipline of private investors was needed—didn’t get borne out in a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee last week. The result was a trenchant critique of social impact bond and pay-for-success financing schemes.

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