Tick-Tock: Fall Countdown on Policy Concerns

September 4, 2013

With summer coming to a close, Congress is returning to a packed policy agenda, including an array of issues that impact the arts and the nonprofit sector. Thanks to all in the orchestra community who connected with policymakers while they were home for the August recess. There are plenty more advocacy opportunities ahead:

  • NEA Funding: The House Appropriations Committee halted its FY14 budget debates for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and a number of other agencies just before the August recess, leaving up in the air a drastic proposed 49% cut to the NEA. Meanwhile, the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee has recommended a level of $154.5 million for the NEA’s FY14 budget – an increase over the current funding level of $138.4 million. With time running out to finalize a number of funding decisions before the new fiscal year begins on October 1, it is likely Congress will pass a short-term funding package at current spending levels while negotiations continue.

  • Tax Policy: Many thanks to orchestras that have been supporting the League’s strategic efforts on Capitol Hill to protect charitable giving incentives. This policy area will continue to heat up this Fall as debt ceiling limits and tax reform efforts once again create a scenario in which “everything is on the table.”

  • Education: National Arts in Education Week is September 8-14, 2013. In D.C., the League continues to meet with policymakers to urge support for arts education as Congress re-writes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as well as in specific program funding at the U.S. Department of Education. At home, you can make a difference by taking local action and speaking up in support of in-school music education.

  • International Policies: The ARTS visa provision was included in the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, while the House of Representatives has decided to take a piecemeal approach. The League is seeking opportunities for inclusion of the ARTS provision as Congress determines next steps in the immigration reform effort. On another front, for U.S. musicians traveling abroad, the League has created a travel tips and resource webpage as U.S. officials begin to implement a musical instrument passport for instruments containing protected species. Updates will be made to the page as new information becomes available.

  • Domestic Air Travel: In domestic air travel news, the President’s FY14 budget included a request for new Department of Transportation funds to support the implementation of new helpful rules on the transportation of musical instruments by air. Given the tense Congressional budget climate, however, the prospect seems dim for budget approval. The law containing helpful improvements for air travel was passed in early 2012, but has not been implemented by the FAA. The League continues to work with its coalition partners to pursue implementation.

  • Updated League Resource Available: Ever wonder whether you are permitted to lobby? (The answer, by the way, is YES, you are!) Do you field questions from your board, trustees, or donors about the best strategies for communicating with policymakers or inviting them to events? The League has just completed an update of its free resource, Best Defense: A Guide for Orchestra Advocates. Download our guide today and share it widely!

As Fall unfolds, please keep a look out for League Advocacy Alerts and Advocacy Updates, and find further details and resources on the full range of policy areas posted online.