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John's Public Policy Blog
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John Baker, DANA's Executive Vice President of Policy & Programs, will be updating you on important public policy matters as they happen. He will also post about the activities of the Governor, Delaware's General Assembly, local issues, hearings & meetings, and legislation that relates to DANA's Public Policy Agenda.

 

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Top tags: Nonprofits  budget  Joint Finance Committee  General Assembly  Delaware  Grant-in-Aid  Governor  DEFAC  Workers Compensation  Insurance  Delaware Nonprofit Day  charitable solicitation  government  National Council of Nonprofits  Public Policy  revenue  Attorney General  Legislative Hall  Lt. Governor  Task force  Board Member  Calendar  charities  Healthcare  Office of Management and Budget  taxes  Wilmington  Advocacy  Affordable Care Act  Bond Bills 

Charitable Solicitor Registration and Markell’s 2015 Budget Proposal

Posted By John Baker, Friday, January 31, 2014

Hi all-

Here’s a quick update on two key Public Policy topics:

First, HB 187 Charitable Solicitor Registration was voted out of the "House Economic Development / Banking / Insurance / Commerce Committee yesterday with DANA, AFP, and the United Way of Delaware present in support of the bill being released from the committee. We will keep you posted as to when it will make it on to the House Agenda for discussion and vote.

The bill has been working its way through the General Assembly since 2009. The Delaware Attorney General’s office has been very responsive to make this bill the least onerous on the nonprofit sector while achieving their stated purpose of increasing the public’s confidence in the charitable nonprofits that they want to donate to. Overall, it is hoped that with increased confidence and transparency, individual giving may increase. Delaware is one of eight states that presently does not require nonprofit (501c3) registration. Our surrounding neighbor states require nonprofits soliciting in their states to register, so this will bring Delaware into alignment with our neighbors, as well as most of the nation. The legislation began with much higher fees, and requirements, but in its current form is the most nonprofit friendly. If you have concerns about the bill please contact me. Also the Attorney General’s office is very open to discussion any suggestions or concerns you may have.

Second, I attended Governor Markell’s presentation of his Delaware 2015 Proposed Annual Budget on Thursday at the Tatnall Building in Dover. His initiatives include:

Investments

  • Education – Preparing students for college and/or careers
  • Public Safety – Preventing illegal firearms and crime
  • Job Growth – Supporting innovation and workforce development partnerships

Unleash Potential

  • Expanding College Opportunities
  • Reducing barriers to employment & increasing re-entry services for offenders
  • Aligning workers’ skills with employers’ needs

Quality of Life

  • Investing in our transportation network
  • Revitalizing our Downtowns
  • Clean water for Delaware’s future

The Governor's proposal also includes increasing Grant-In-Aid by $500,000.

In our opinion, all of this will be challenging with Delaware’s financial forecast being less than desirable. The proposed budget looks at a variety of ways to balance the budget and pay for initiatives. These include decreases to some expenses and increases of certain incorporation fees. It also includes an increase to the gas tax.

The General Assembly will discuss all of this thoroughly over the coming months.

Please check out the details at this link: http://budget.delaware.gov/fy2015/documents/budget-presentation.pdf.

Resister to learn about the anticipated impact on the Nonprofit Sector at the "DANA Annual Delaware Budget Update” program on February 21st in Wilmington at the DCCA, and on February 28th in Dover at the Modern Maturity Center. Click here to register.

As always feel free to reach out to me at jbaker@delawarenonprofit.org or 302.777.5500.

-John

Tags:  Attorney General  budget  charitable solicitation  General Assembly  Governor  Grant-in-Aid 

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Governor Markell's State of the State

Posted By John Baker, Thursday, January 23, 2014

Good Morning!

If you are looking to catch Governor Markell’s State of the State address from Legislative Hall, House Chambers beginning at 2PM today, you can follow it live at www.WDDE.org/listenlive

Governor Markell will present his budget next Thursday, January 30, 2014, at the Tatnall building in Dover (located next to Legislative Hall).

Remember to register for the Annual Budget Update brought to you by DANA and sponsored by Nemours. We’ll have presentations from Delaware’s OMB, DHSS, and DSCYF (Kids Dept.), as well as a representative of the Legislature, and Drew Fennell, to talk about Advocacy and Lobbying. Register on our website by clicking here.

DANA's Annual Budget Update:
February 21st in Wilmington at the DCCA, and February 28th in Dover at the Modern Maturity Center
Times: 9:00 a.m. – Noon

As always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact me.

-John

Tags:  Advocacy  budget  Governor  Legislative Hall  Office of Management and Budget  State of the State 

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Win for Nonprofits in Federal OMB Grants reform

Posted By John Baker, Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hi All,

I recently received this great news that I want to share with you. After much heavy lifting by our National Council of Nonprofits and our partner nonprofit state associations around the country, the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released for public inspection "Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards", which will streamline federal grants rules and procedures.

To boil it down, the OMB is recognizing that it is important to include an appropriate administrative amount in their contracts with nonprofits. If you are, or will be, getting state or local funding that comes from the federal government (a.k.a.pass through funding) you can opt for the new automatic indirect cost rate of 10%. Other changes include: expanded eligible direct costs, more favorable audit rules, and standardized/streamlined applications and reports.

As our National Council of Nonprofits points out (summarized):

The new guidance means that nonprofits should be able to focus more on their missions and should be under less pressure to raise additional funds to support the work of a contract. In turn, charities with no government contracts or grants could see less competition for scarce philanthropic dollars. This is a major win for the entire charitable nonprofit community.

This will help all nonprofits, even if they don’t have government contracts, because those with contracts will not have to raise funds from private sources to cover the overhead that will now be included in their contracts with the government.

We hope you see the value and the power that is illustrated by this OMB Announcement. Working together with our colleague associations across the country, we have been able to make an impact on Federal contracting. They acknowledge that all organizations must cover their administrative costs if they are to continue to provide critical services. Together we are making our communities stronger.

I will keep you posted as I learn more in processing the 759 pages.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments, and I will get back to you upon my return from the holidays on January 6th.

-John

Tags:  contracts  federal  grant reform  grants  National Council of Nonprofits  Office of Management and Budget  OMB 

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Grant-In-Aid Public Discussion

Posted By John Baker, Friday, November 8, 2013

Hi All –  

I was among many of your nonprofit colleagues at the Delaware General Assembly’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) meeting Thursday on the topic of Grant-In-Aid (GIA) and their discussion of developing the application and award process into one that uses more online technology and is outcomes and impact focused. This is something that they have talked about for many years and plan to moved forward on this time around. The committee Chairs have talked with a number of funders that have moved their thinking in this direction, including the United Way of Delaware, Longwood Foundation, and the Delaware Community Foundation. Based on earlier meetings, as well as today's meeting, the committee has agreed to work on a plan that will be presented to the full Joint Finance Committee in June of 2014 for acceptance. 

Between now and June 2014, the committee members will be working with the Controllers Office GIA staff, the funding community, and the nonprofits that receive GIA to identify focus areas, desired outcome measures for "collective impact”, and indicators that will be used to measure / show progress toward outcomes and "collective impact."

The JFC will be planning capacity building programming to get all GIA applicants up to speed in preparing for the new 2016 applications (due November 2015). This will be similar to the capacity building that the United Way did when they moved to their new application process. 

The Joint Finance Committee’s goal is to have their recommendations in place and voted on to include in the epilogue language of the 2015 GIA Bill. This epilogue language will give future applicants a road map for how the new system will be implemented over the next two years. The new system will ideally be fully operational by your 2016 Grant-In-Aid application that will be due in the beginning of November 2015 for the 2016 State Budget. 

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me.

-John

Tags:  budget  General Assembly  Grant-in-Aid  Joint Finance Committee  nonprofits 

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Workers Comp Public Meeting

Posted By John Baker, Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hi All, 

DANA was present last evening representing the nonprofit sector at the Wilmington Public Meeting on Workers Compensation Insurance, hosted by the Delaware Department of Insurance. The program began with the Department’s Gene Reed giving opening remarks and introducing the Delaware Compensation Rating Bureau’s (DCRB) Tim Wisecarver who described the DCRB’s Filing No. 1305 requesting an average 40% increase in the Workers Compensation rates for 2014. This was followed by comments from the "Rate Payers Advocate” and their actuary (position created by the Governor’s Task Force and legislation this past June). This Advocate and their Actuary recommends an average 20% increase. This was followed by a presentation by the Delaware Department of Insurance’s Actuary who recommended an average increase of 20% as well. 

The program concluded with the Delaware Department of Insurance’s Gene Reed announcing that a Public Administrative Hearing will be announced on the Department’s website and will be presided over by the Hon. Judge Martin. The Judge will make a recommendation to the Insurance Commissioner, Karen Weldin Stewart, who will render a final decision on any rate adjustment. 

There will be an opportunity for the public to make statements at the Public Administrative Hearing and DANA will be there. 

Meanwhile, the Governor’s Task Force on Workers Compensation Insurance continues to meet to develop a course forward that is fiscally responsible and continues to support Delaware’s economic recovery.  

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me.

-John

Tags:  Governor  Insurance  public meeting  Public Policy  Task force  Wilmington  Workers Compensation 

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Affordable Care Act Deadline

Posted By John Baker, Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hi All,

We are working diligently to make sure our members are provided with the most up to date news regarding the information and requirements of ACA (Healthcare Reform-Patient Portability and Affordable Care Act Law). Therefore, we are reminding you that each employer is required by ACA to notify their employees of the upcoming exchange plans, regardless of whether you offer or provide healthcare to them. The deadline for this notification is October 1, 2013. Please see the information and links below. We hope this information will be helpful to you.

As always, if you have any questions please reach out to me.

- John


HEALTH INSURANCE MARKET EXCHANGE NOTIFICATION  

Most employers in Delaware are required to send a written healthcare exchange notification to their employees by October 1, 2013. The only exceptions to this are those businesses that have annual gross revenue under $500,000. This notification also applies to hospitals, schools, and government agencies.
 
In addition, starting October 1, 2013, the notices have to be given to New Employees on the date they are hired. Click on this link to access the Exchange Notification Document that can be used. Information about your company and your current medical insurance coverage needs to be inserted in Part B before distributing to your employees. These letters must go out to ALL employees, regardless of the hours they work, whether or not they are seasonal employees, or whether or not they are eligible for insurance. For new hires after the October deadline, through 2014, the notice must be sent out within 14 days of their hire date.
 
The intent of the Exchange Notification Document is to let employees know about the upcoming Open Enrollment beginning October 1, 2013 and to make them aware of a potential Tax Credit based on their household income. The employee should also know that if they opt for coverage through the Exchange or Marketplace, they will forfeit the company contribution as well as their ability to pay their premium share on a pre-tax basis.
 
An employer can provide 'an alternate notice' as long as it provides the following information:

1) A description of what Exchanges are, what they provide, and where employees can go to find more information about them; AND

2) Information regarding available tax credits if the employer doesn't provide minimum essential coverage and the employee purchases health insurance on the Exchange; AND

3) A statement that employees who purchase coverage on the Exchange may lose employer's (tax-free) contribution to the cost of health insurance offered by the employer. Also, that the employee's contributions to the employer-sponsored plan are often pre-tax contributions and the employee's contributions for insurance purchased on the exchange are post-tax contributions.               

Failing to meet the October 1, 2013 deadline may result in fines as steep as $100 per day, per employee. Employers must provide this in writing by first class mail or electronically. We also encourage you to retain copies of the letters for proof should your compliance ever be brought into question.  

NEWS FROM ALLEN INSURANCE (BENEFITS CONNECTION)

As you may know, effective January 1, 2014 all individuals are required to have health insurance. Effective October 1, 2013 individuals will be able to purchase health insurance from the public Health Insurance Marketplace better known as the ‘Exchange’.  

To that end, ACA has mandated that all employers notify their employees of the ‘Exchange’ availability. This notice must be provided to all your employees (full and part time) and it does not matter if you offer or provide them health insurance or not – every employee must get the required notification.

A sample notice is provided on the government website (Department of Labor) and there are two models – one for employers who offer coverage (click here if you offer coverage) and one for employers who do not offer coverage (click here if you do not offer coverage).  This same notice is required to be presented within 14 days to newly hired employees.

Tags:  Affordable Care Act  Benefits Connection  exchange  Healthcare  Insurance  open enrollment 

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Affordable Care Act Resources

Posted By John Baker, Thursday, August 29, 2013

I hope you have had a very good summer. As it draws to a close, I wish you a good Labor Day holiday!

As we prepare for the change of seasons, we also are preparing for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the changes that are coming along with it.

We at DANA have heard you when you have asked for the most targeted resources available. We know how busy you are.

Recognizing that the ACA has so many moving parts, and that it is still being developed and implemented, we have sorted through the various resources and have narrowed them down to the ones we believe will be most helpful to you.

These resources will help you navigate Delaware’s implementation of the ACA for employers, individuals, and clients you serve.

The Federal Small Business Health Care Tax Credit link to the IRS sight will help nonprofits understand this component of the ACA and tax credits that may be available to you as a 501 c 3 "Small Business”. These tax credits are given against your payroll tax liability (see link below). The expansion and clarification of this credit being available to nonprofits is the result of input provided by you, DANA, nonprofits, and state associations of nonprofits across the nation, to those responsible for the implementation of the ACA.

In addition to the resources below, AARP DELAWARE has several Education Events scheduled that you may find helpful. For times that are not determined yet (TBD) please email AARP DELAWARE’s Kim Iapalucci at: kiapalucci@aarp.org


AARP ACA Education Events

DateEventLocationCityTime
October 3Urban League Annual Meeting  Community Service BuildingWilmingtonTBD
October 5Women's Conference CalvaryBaptist ChurchDoverTBD
October 15AARP South Coastal ChapterBear Trap Dunes Golf ClubOcean View  TBD
November 1Marketplace EventNewark Senior CenterNewarkNoon - 2:00 pm  
November 13  Marketplace EventLatin American Community Center  Wilmington5:30 - 7:30 pm


Choose Health Delaware is the free Official State Program to help you understand health insurance reform and the Health Insurance Marketplace. http://www.choosehealthde.com/


The Federal Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is still available for nonprofits with fewer than 25 full-time employees and that pay for at least half of their employees’ health insurance premiums. Learn more here. This credit is set to expand in 2014, and DANA will provide more information as it becomes available.

Have a great rest of the summer! As always, if you’d like to discuss this matter, feel free to contact me.

-John



Tags:  AARP  ACA  Affordable Care Act  business  Healthcare 

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Sussex County adopts special event ordinance

Posted By John Baker, Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hi all! I hope your summer has been enjoyable. As we gear up for a busy fall, we want to make you aware that Sussex County Council adopted a special events ordinance at their meeting last night (Tuesday, August 20, 2013) that better defines uses and permitting.

Release from Sussex County Government:

From lining up performers to portable toilets, putting on a festival, outdoor concert or other special event takes plenty of planning. Sussex County wants to make sure no detail is left unchecked, especially when it comes to public safety.

County Council, at its Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, meeting, adopted an ordinance that updates a section of County code to more broadly define special events, as well as reiterate rules for how organizers must obtain County approval before holding such mass gatherings. Special events include, but are not limited to, carnivals, festivals, concerts, and races/walks.

Events lasting more than three days require conditional use approval from the Planning & Zoning Commission and County Council; events lasting fewer than three days do not require a conditional use permit, but still need staff approval. All special events, regardless of duration, now would be subject to the County’s Special Event Policy to coordinate emergency services coverage, namely paramedics and emergency operations staff, if necessary.

County officials said the ordinance change, which takes effect immediately, was necessary to ensure a variety of temporary uses are meeting County code, and to help better coordinate public safety for events when thousands of people are gathered in a concentrated area.

"We want our residents and visitors to enjoy themselves when they experience the many festivals, events and seasonal attractions Sussex County has to offer,” Council President Michael H. Vincent said. "But behind the scenes, we have to make sure these events are properly permitted and coordinated so that the public’s interests are protected at all times.”

Have a great rest of the summer! As always, if you’d like to discuss this matter, feel free to contact me.

-John

Tags:  county  County Council  events  ordinance  permits  Planning and Zoning Commission  Sussex 

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Combined Federal Campaign

Posted By John Baker, Friday, August 9, 2013

Hope you have had a great summer so far.

I'd like to update you on a matter that you might already be aware of. It has been percolating through D.C. for some months now. During this summer recess, if you see your Congressmen around town, you may want to let them know how important the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is to your nonprofit and its clients. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released proposed regulatory changes to the CFC and congress will be weighing in on these proposed revisions when they return from break in September.

The key proposed changes may include:

  • a new flat application fee for participating charitable nonprofits  
  • restricting giving options to electronic ones (credit, debit); eg: no checks, cash or other financial instruments
  • replacing local management of the CFC with a more centralized/regional management 

The OPM has already collected feedback on the proposed changes that, if approved, would take effect in 2014. The U.S. House of Representatives’ "Oversight and Government Reform Committee” is currently considering the impact of the OPM’s proposed regulation changes.

Have a great rest of the summer! As always, if you’d like to discuss this matter, feel free to contact me.

-John

Tags:  Combined Federal Campaign  Congress  financial  Office of Personnel Management 

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Grant-In-Aid and Charitable Solicitation Registration

Posted By John Baker, Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hello all-

I'm just getting back to the office from Dover and the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) review of the Grant-In Aid (GIA) Bill draft. The committee, under Representative Smith George’s leadership, was charged with being very deliberate with their recommendations. There will be no aggregate or across-the-board recommendations for GIA this year.

Overall, there was a net aggregate of $513,156.00 increase to the "Community Agencies," going from $16,215,516.00 to $16,728,672.00 in the GIA draft that will now go to the General Assembly for a vote. Some others saw slight increases, some saw decreases, but most remained level. There were also several one-time grants proposed. This was a very tight budget year. The JFC is concerned about the 2015 budget being even tighter, so they were very conservative this year.

Click here to see the GIA draft

Here’s the latest on HB 187:

With a busy legislative session, HB 187 will not come out of committee until January 2014. This is the bill that will bring Delaware in line with 44 other states that already have Charitable Solicitation Registration requirements for nonprofits and for-profit fundraisers. Our surrounding states of NJ, MD, and PA all require similar registration. DANA has worked on this bill with the Attorney General’s office, the Delaware Community Foundation, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (Brandywine Chapter and International), the United Way of Delaware, and many more of our nonprofit colleagues.

Since discussion began in 2008, the bill has been much improved. It now accepts IRS 990 nonprofit tax returns for many nonprofits, raises the budget level at which an audit is required, reduces the annual registration fee from $250 for the smallest "Charitable Nonprofit” to $25, and tops out at $100, instead of the $1,000 in past versions. Also, the provision that would have required the submission of donor lists has been eliminated. The system will be online, and will use the Uniform Registration System (URS) that most other states use for this purpose. Additional fees or further regulations are difficult for our nonprofit sector to bear, but we have fought to make this the least-onerous and least-expensive Charitable Solicitation Registration possible. The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep. Osienski, Co-Sponsors are Rep. Kowalko and Sen. Sokola, with additional sponsorship of Rep. Keeley, and Sens. Townsend and Simpson. View the bill by clicking here

As always if you’d like to discuss this piece of legislation, feel free to contact me.

-John

Tags:  Attorney General  budget  charitable solicitation  General Assembly  Grant-in-Aid  Joint Finance Committee  Legislative Hall  registration  Uniform Registration System 

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