High Stakes as 2014 Winds to a Close

December 2, 2014

Action Ahead for Current and New Congress

A heap of unresolved policy issues waits as little time remains for the "lame duck" Congress to address the unfinished business of 2014. Before the newly elected House and Senate members begin their session in January, Congress and the Administration may act on a range of policy issues of critical importance to orchestras. Reach out to your current and newly elected officials to weigh in on the policy issues that matter most as your orchestra serves its community.

Donors Await IRA Rollover Reinstatement

Just within the past week, options to reinstate the expired IRA Charitable Rollover provision have come on and off the negotiating table, including permanence, a two year reinstatement, and a one-year retroactive extension. The bill passed earlier this summer by the House of Representatives makes a set of charitable giving incentives permanent, but has not been taken up by the Senate. Its fate is now in the hands of Congressional negotiators working on a short-term tax deal. The League partners closely with national nonprofit advocates throughout the year, and we most recently joined a campaign reaching every member of Congress to urge permanent enactment of the IRA Charitable Rollover. We will notify you as soon as a decision is made so that orchestras can make the most of any opportunity to put this key charitable giving incentive to use!

NEA Funding Unfinished

The Interior bill, which funds the National Endowment for the Arts, is one of several measures that will likely be rolled into a broader FY15 spending package in the coming weeks. This year the House and Senate committee recommendations for NEA funding were just $4 million apart, with the House supporting level funding and the Senate recommending an increase to $150 million. Because the current short-term spending deal only provides for government programs and services through December 11, 2014, Congress will need to act fast to avoid a government shutdown.

Progress on Airline Regulations

After a nearly three-year delay, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to issue final regulations on airline rules for travel with musical instruments by the end of this month. The new rules will be a verbatim implementation of the section of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 regarding musical instruments as carry-on baggage or checked baggage and will go into immediate effect. The League partners with the American Federation of Musicians, the Recording Academy, and an array of national music groups in dialogue with DOT and the aviation industry to ensure that these policy improvements translate into real relief for travelers. We will keep you informed when the regulations are final and will let you know what they mean for traveling musicians as we continue to update the League's online Tips for Traveling by Air.

Ivory Action Expected

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) intends to release new draft rules by the end of this year or in early 2015 to implement the ban on African elephant ivory announced in February.  The rules are likely to focus on domestic commerce in items that contain African elephant ivory, including musical instruments, and will be open for public comment before being finalized.  The League provides detailed tips for navigating the ban's impact on international travel, and continues to advocate for policy improvements to address the unintended consequences for musical instruments.  A recent Symphony article, "Saving Elephants – And Instruments," explores opportunities to meet conservation goals while protecting international cultural activity.