DC Digest - March 16, 2012
In Today's Issue:
- Coalition of Charities Calls on White House to Maintain Deduction for Major Donors
- Associations Submit Amicus Brief Against Challenge to Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
- OMB Agrees to 30-Day Extension of ANPR Comment Period
- 902 Organizations Urge High FY13 Allocation for Labor-HHS-Education Funding
- Senator Durbin Announces Hearing on Student Loan Debt
COALITION OF CHARITIES CALLS ON WHITE HOUSE TO MAINTAIN DEDUCTION FOR MAJOR DONORS
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), as part of a coalition of 24 leading charities, associations and for-profit partners involved in fundraising, sent a letter earlier this week to President Obama about preserving federal tax incentives for charitable giving. The letter specifically comments on the Administration’s proposal in its FY13 budget pertaining to the so-called “Buffett rule” and how it would preserve the value of the charitable deduction for major donors.
“The 2013 budget sends very mixed, muddled messages for charities and donors,” said Andrew Watt, president and CEO of AFP. “On one hand, the language in the budget acknowledges the unique and critical role charity plays in our world, and in the United States in particular. But the limit on deductions for major donors—those who can make the largest and most impactful gifts—undermines the concept that the charitable deduction is unique. And the cap won’t hurt wealthy taxpayers, but rather those most in need who depend on charitable services.”
The letter notes that the proposed cap would have long-lasting negative consequences on the charitable organizations upon which millions of Americans rely for vital programs and services.
AFP, Coalition of Charities Calls On White House to Maintain Deduction for Major Donors (AFP Press Release)
ASSOCIATIONS SUBMIT AMICUS BRIEF AGAINST CHALLENGE TO ANIMAL ENTERPRISE TERRORISM ACT
AAU has joined 10 other organizations in submitting an amicus brief in opposition to a federal lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA).
As described by the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), which is spearheading the associations’ effort, “the brief urges the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts to uphold the constitutionality of the AETA and argues the law is a measured and important response to threats, bombings, arson, and vandalism committed by animal rights extremists against research facilities and scientists who conduct life-saving research with laboratory animals.”
The other associations participating in the amicus brief are the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research, the General Hospital Corporation d/b/a Massachusetts General Hospital, the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Inc., and the McLean Hospital Corporation.
OMB AGREES TO 30-DAY EXTENSION OF ANPR COMMENT PERIOD
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has agreed to extend by 30 days the deadline for comments on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Guidance (ANPG) on grant reform that it published on February 28.
The extension follows the request for a 30-day extension sent March 7 by a group of research and higher education associations. The anticipated extension would move the deadline from the current date of March 29 to around the end of April. OMB is expected to publish a notice in the Federal Register in the next couple of weeks that provides specifics on the extension, including the actual deadline for comments.
Among other changes, the ANPG proposes to consolidate existing OMB grant circulars, such as A-21 and A-87, which guide federal assistance and grants to universities, other nonprofit organizations, and states and localities. The ANPG includes specific modifications to current cost principles and administrative requirements for university research grants under OMB Circular A-21. Within those provisions, OMB proposes such changes as taking a more risk-based approach to auditing, exploring alternatives to time and effort reporting, extending the utility cost adjustment to research at more institutions, and allowing grantees to direct charge certain administrative support and computer costs.
OMB also requests comments on both an optional and a mandatory discounted flat indirect (F&A) cost rate for universities instead of their negotiated rate. OMB argues that a discounted flat rate might appeal to institutions because it would "reduce administrative burdens on recipients associated with documenting, justifying, negotiating, and maintaining support for a negotiated rate.”
Given the complexity of these proposals, several associations and institutions were concerned that a 30-day comment period was too short for careful review, analysis, and effective comment by stakeholders. The request for the extension, sent by AAU, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Council on Governmental Relations, and the Association of Independent Research Institutes, asked for the additional comment period “to allow our associations and the institutions we represent sufficient time to analyze fully and effectively comment on the proposals put forward in the ANPG.”
902 ORGANIZATIONS URGE HIGH FY13 ALLOCATION FOR LABOR-HHS-EDUCATION FUNDING
A group of 902 organizations, including AAU, sent a letter to House and Senate appropriations committee leaders urging them to provide the “largest possible FY2013 302(b) allocation to the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee within the discretionary spending cap established by the Budget Control Act.”
The letter said, “The programs and services administered by these Departments serve a broad range of constituencies and needs, but they all share a common, fundamental goal of strengthening this nation by improving Americans’ lives.”
Letter Urging High FY13 Allocation (pdf)
SENATOR DURBIN ANNOUNCES HEARING ON STUDENT LOAN DEBT
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced today that he will hold a hearing on his legislation – the Fairness for Struggling Students Act – which will help address the growing student loan debt problem in the United States, on Tuesday, March 20 at 10:00 AM ET.
According to an announcement by Senator Durbin's staff:
"Americans now own more debt in student loans than credit cards. According to a February 2012 report by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, American student borrowing exceeded $100 billion in 2010 and total outstanding loans exceeded $1 trillion last year. Next week’s hearing will focus on the growing percentage of student loan debt that comes from private student loans, which typically have higher interest rates and fewer consumer protections than government loans.
Durbin’s Fairness for Struggling Students Act would help address the looming student debt crisis by restoring a pre-2005 provision in the bankruptcy code allowing for discharge of privately-issued student loans – like other forms of private debt, including credit cards – in bankruptcy. Restoring this provision would once again make important relief available to students who are being crushed by overwhelming private student loan debt."
The hearing will be before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts. The hearing will be webcast on the Judiciary Committee’s website.
The following witnesses will testify: Attorney General for the State of Illinois, Lisa Madigan; Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Jack Conway; Staff Attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, Deanne Loonin; Former Student from Chicago, Illinois Danielle Jokela; Professor of Law at Stanford University, G. Marcus Cole; and Associate Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, Neal P. McCluskey.