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When you’re playing a solo, your instrument better be in tune…

You may not know this, but right now NFCA is working to defeat five separate bills in two states that would modify or outright repeal the fraternal tax exemption.  Three bills are under consideration by the Hawaii legislature and two bills are in the hopper in Washington state.  NFCA has retained lobbyists in each state to be our eyes and ears in the state capitals.  Hiring these resources is critical to winning these battles and, at least in my opinion, is one of the best expenditures of your dues dollars.  Every member has a stake in these battles and every member – large and small – benefits from NFCA’s lobbying activities.

But political victories are not won by simply hiring a good lobbyist.  And what is making the difference in Hawaii and Washington is the incredible grassroots support we’ve generated from member societies operating in those states.  Washington Task Force members generated over 600 contacts between local fraternalists and state lawmakers in Washington – more than enough to get their attention and put one bill on the back burner (at least for now).  The other bill is a wildcard: HB 2645 is a “boxcar” bill, which means it serves as a placeholder until the author adds substantive content.  In Washington, boxcar bills aren’t heard in committee – if you don’t have an inside contact at the statehouse, this type of legislation is very difficult to track.  NFCA’s lobbyist is closely monitoring HB 2645 and will continue to do so until the end of session.

In Hawaii – a state where only a few members have a presence – we’ve been able to round up more than 100 local agents, fraternal leaders, and executives of organizations who benefit from our financial and volunteer activities – to write letters to their elected officials urging them to reject the various proposals that would undermine our ability to carry out our mission.  Very impressive.

Our ability to muster these kinds of resources is a direct result of members knowing exactly what their agents and local lodges are engaged in at the local level.  We’re in the political spotlight in these two states right now – and legislators in other states are taking similar hard looks at the value delivered by tax-exempt organizations in their jurisdictions.  And when you’re playing a solo on center stage, you better be able to play a compelling tune or you’re liable to get the hook.

Want to learn more about how you can get your society and its local lodges ready for these battles?  Just contact Elizabeth Snyder, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, at esnyder@nfcanet.org.

Capital Constraints…  I found this article on credit unions’ struggles with raising capital and dealing with consolidation issues fascinating only because of the parallels between them and the fraternal system.  While there are a number of similarities, one big difference between fraternals and credit unions is that we enjoy a positive working relationship with our commercial life insurance colleagues, while the credit unions’ counterpart in the banking industry fight tooth and nail over almost every major regulatory issue.

Incongruity of the day…  I find it amazing (and a little sad) that the government and major sports leagues like the NFL and NBA have to spend millions of advertising dollars telling children to go play outside because exercise is good for you.  The government is reminding us of this basic principle through the tool – television – that has contributed so much to our young people’s lethargy in the first place!

On the bookshelf…  Just finished "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain (you may know him from his show on the Travel Channel, “No Reservations”).  I don’t think I’ll ever eat fish in a restaurant on Monday again…  Next up, "Superfreakonomics."

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