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Let’s try this again…

I first posted the following item on Thursday, April 1.  And frankly, I thought I’d get at least a few responses.  I’ll chalk it up to the fact that I didn’t count on people being out of the office for Easter break.  But now that we’re all back to work, let’s try this again…

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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.

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Bits of tid…

Section meetings are coming up and you need to be there…

Section Mid-Year Meeting season kicks off in March with the Fraternal & Communications Sections meeting in Charlotte, NC.  The Secretaries & Human Resources Sections and the Presidents Section follow right behind with April sessions in Hollywood, FL.  Later that month, the Investment Section meets in San Antonio, TX.  The Actuaries Section wraps up the schedule with a June meeting in Milwaukee.  Programs are set for many of these meetings and online registration is also available on the NFCA Web site.

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Joe’s Special…

A mish-mosh of information, intelligence, and innuendo…

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Nothing Random About State Tax Exemption Debates

I’ve been in Colorado for a few days to recharge my batteries.  There’s something about the air at 11,000 feet (or maybe it’s the lack of it) that helps clear the mind.  But it’s time to get back to it, and there is no shortage of news to share and issues to tackle.  Here’s the latest on one of the most important…

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Shaking Things Up to Start the New Year

2010 is not going to be the “same old, same old” for NFCA.  For one thing, we’ve retained McBee Strategic Consulting as the association’s new federal public policy firm.  In this role, the folks at McBee are responsible for working with NFCA staff and member societies to develop and implement a more aggressive political action strategy that takes advantage of our greatest strength: a vast fraternal lodge grassroots network that delivers meaningful member benefits and community service activities to folks in the districts of almost every member of Congress.

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2009 Top 10 List

It’s not Letterman, but here’s a shot at my Top Ten list for 2009:

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An Update on the Tax Issues – Federal and State

With the Senate getting close to a deal on a health care bill, it looks like a final piece of legislation could be sent to President Obama in early 2010.  That means the debate over tax reform will begin in earnest later in the session.  Check out the highlights from an article that appeared in a recent issue of The Hill to get a sneak peak at what may be on the table…

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This is not a drill…

It’s a common assumption that the greatest threat to fraternals’ tax-exempt status comes from Capitol Hill.  And indeed the most immediate challenge we face comes from Washington – not D.C., but the Evergreen State.

Washington’s tax revenues, like virtually every other state, have been hit hard by the recession.  The state is facing a budget shortfall of $2.6 billion and lawmakers are looking at narrowing the financial gap by raising taxes and questioning virtually every existing “tax preference.”  A report issued by the State of Washington Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) takes specific aim at fraternals’ premium tax exemption.  In fact, the report recommends that “The Legislature should clarify the public purpose being served by the tax preference for fraternal benefit societies, because it is unclear whether the objective or rationale for the exemption changed with the reenactments [of the state insurance code] in 1947 and 1987.”

Translation: the state’s coffers are empty and any organization with a tax exemption is fair game to help make up the deficit.

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Bringing it all back home…

It’s State Fraternal Congress (SFC) meeting season.  I’ve been to a number of SFC meetings over the past few weeks and have at least three more on my calendar before Thanksgiving.  I wish my travel schedule would allow me to attend more!  Attending these meetings gives me an opportunity to meet more members personally and get a better idea of how NFCA can deliver more value to you.  It’s heartening to hear your support for the association’s fraternal cooperative initiative, for our more ambitious communications efforts (like this blog, Weekly Headlines, and State Roundup), and for your willingness to transform SFCs into organizations that play a more active role in NFCA’s advocacy program.  This is a crucial role for SFCs and one that will help make these state congresses – and the entire fraternal system – more relevant and accessible to public policymakers.

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