The 2016 legislative session came to a close this month with little fanfare. While our representatives agreed on fantasy sports and Sunday morning alcohol sales (the “Brunch Bill”), meaningful ethics reform and closing the LLC loophole eluded consensus. A number of new bills and reintroductions would affect the human services sector, but few were passed. In the last-minute frenzy of legislation, a bill that was intended to increase lobbying and campaign finance transparency (Senate Bill 8160) sailed through both chambers in one day. Among other provisions, this legislation includes additional reporting requirements for nonprofits that give money, goods, or services to 501(c)(4) organizations. The Governor has not yet signed the bill, and at this time, we believe that it will have very limited application to nonprofit organizations.
HSC worked behind the scenes with many of its partners to advocate for or against certain policies and bills during this biennium. Our most significant victories, which we secured with through ongoing collaboration with our partners and members, were the minimum wage increase and the expansion of the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program (NICIP). We also collaborated with our supportive housing and behavioral health partners to oppose NIMBY bills that would have severely limited the opening and relocation of social services programs. Those bills did not make it out of the Legislature. Meanwhile, we helped move a bill allowing nonprofits to make purchases through county cooperative purchasing agreements through both chambers.
In addition to our advocacy, HSC established relationships with Senator Robert G. Ortt (R/C/I – 62), who has sponsored several bills that would benefit the nonprofit human services sector, and Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D/I/WF – 35), who sponsored the cooperative purchasing bill. We look forward to developing and leveraging these partnerships throughout the year so that we are better positioned to influence policy in the next session. We thank Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, who continues to be a strong voice for our sector, for his ongoing support and collaboration. Below are some of the key bills that would affect the human services sector. Note that while the first four have passed the Senate and the Assembly, they must be signed by the Governor to become law.
Contributed by Edith Herwitz of the Human Services Council