March 05, 2019

pov: Taking the Hill — Lessons Learned in this Year's Legislative Session

This winter has been a doozey. The wind hasn’t stopped (and seems to be more ferocious than ever) and the sun pretends to come out but we haven’t seen much of it lately. Adding to the seasonal un-excitement is that we are in full swing of our lively Legislative Session. The 45 day session ends March 14, so please, dear reader don’t check out early… stay engaged until the very end! 

Here’s why it matters:

We are residents of this great state and the laws passed and the legislation approved impacts every one of us. Staying engaged provides different challenges depending on each of our skills. What I have learned is that reading policy and bills is a learned skill. For me, I have to read then reread text to assure I understand.

Having access to a policy expert on staff in Nonprofit Land is more of a dream than a reality. As a result, it can be discouraging. But what I have come to learn is that showing up and being interested goes a long way in making smart, appropriate policy. 

At the moment I have a very real, lived policy experience and I want to share with all of you Nonprofit Policy Ninjas some learning lessons I am taking with me as I grow in this work.

  • Be vigilant
  • Be open
  • Stay focused
  • Even when you’re the only one speaking up, if you know there’s a better way, continue to speak up
  • If you MUST get discouraged limit discouragement to one evening or a small block of time. This seems silly but there’s only 45 days. Time is not on your side. Call a friend, talk it through, strategize, and then flip the switch. 
  • Celebrate the small wins
  • Call upon the experts in your sphere that can help
  • Recognize you are doing your absolute best and so is everyone else

Our efforts on SB26 Governmental Nonprofit Corporation Act Amendments began in October 2018. We have been actively working with Senator Henderson, the bill’s sponsor, to make sure that independent (non-government) nonprofits are not inadvertently impacted by unnecessary legislation. What has come out of this process is improved financial oversight, budgeting, and training for governmental nonprofits. In short it’s good, solid policy!

Team UNA (myself included) have learned so much about the ways we communicate with our members (and others) and how we work with our legislators throughout this process. We are expecting good things to be done with SB26* (signed into law) and would like to personally thank Senator Henderson for her diligence in improving financial controls and transparency for governmental nonprofits.

Interested on learning what the definition of a governmental nonprofit is? Find out here. Interested in learning about your reporting guidelines to the State Auditor? Find out here.


*At the time of writing this blog post the 3rd Substitute of SB26 has passed in the House Governmental Operations Committee. It awaits passing through the House and then a stop back into the Senate for final approval. UNA supports this version of the bill.