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ArtsVote: Legislative News

Headline of the Week  


Federal Education Bill to Be Voted on in the House

07-17-2013: Tomorrow, the U.S. House of Representatives will begin floor debate on the nation’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) legislation.  Congress continues to be bitterly divided along political party lines on almost every possible policy issue from the farm bill to gun control.  Unfortunately, federal policies and aid to our nation’s schools are no exception and this bill could significantly impact the future of arts education. Read more here.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of Senate Education Committee, to Retire 

01-28-2013: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced this week that he will not seek reelection in 2014. Sen. Harkin currently serves as the Chairman of Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and is the most senior education policymaker and appropriator. In the past, he has repeatedly joined with Americans for the Arts in supporting arts education measures on several occasions. Read his retirement announcement.

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Arts Advocacy Day/Appropriations

Arts Advocacy Day
Actor and activist Alec Baldwin delivered the 25th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy on April 16, 2012. Presented by Americans for the Arts and sponsored by Ovation, Baldwin delivered his remarks before a sold-out audience at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The night also included a performance by Ben Folds accompanied by alumni from YoungArts, as well as introductory remarks by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Maureen Dowd. On April 17th, Americans for the Arts brought together artist activists with more than 500 arts advocates representing 40 states from across the country to Capitol Hill for Arts Advocacy Day (AAD). AAD officially commenced at the Congressional Arts Kick Off organized by Americans for the Arts in conjunction with the Congressional Arts Caucus. At the event, Americans for the Arts and The U.S. Conference of Mayors jointly presented the 2012 Award for Congressional Arts Leadership to Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA). Speakers at the Kick Off included acclaimed artists Alec Baldwin, Nigel Lythgoe, Hill Harper, Melina Kanakaredes, Ben Folds, Clay Walker, Pierre Dulaine, Tiffani Thiessen, Omar Benson Miller, and Johnathon Schaech.

Previously, on March 22, Bob Lynch and award-winning actor Stanley Tucci testified at a public witness hearing before the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee on the Interior in support of the NEA increase and on behalf of federal cultural funding served as a precursor to consideration of FY 2013 appropriations bill

FY 2013 Appropriations
The President’s Request for the NEA this year is for $146 million as Congress now works on their current fiscal year proposals.

Agency

President Obama Request FY12

House Interior  Subcommittee
FY12
 

Senate Interior  Subcommittee
FY12
 

Final FY12
CR
 

President Request
FY13

House Committee
Action
FY13

Senate
Action
FY 13

NEA

$146.3

$135

$155

$146.3

$154.2

TBD

TBD

NEH

$146.3

$135

$155

$146.3

$154.2

TBD

TBD

Tax Issues

Charitable Deduction: Congress has recently held several hearings that directly related to how current tax policy might be changed in light of the consensus need for comprehensive tax reform. Consistent in these conversations is the examination of popular tax deductions that might be a source of closing revenue gaps for the U.S. Treasury. With the expiration of the so-called “Bush Tax Cuts” and other popular deductions like the payroll tax, combined with proposed large cuts in federal spending, the economy is facing a potential massive drain in federal revenue and resources at the end of the year. The nonprofit arts sector, which relies on incentives for charitable giving for support, is keeping a close eye on any new tax policy developments. Americans for the Arts is working with Independent Sector and a wide cross-section of nonprofit arts organizations on preserving the Deduction and other tax incentives for charity.

IRA Charitable Rollover: This provision permits donors age 70.5 and older to make tax-free charitable gifts directly from their IRAs to charities up to an annual ceiling of $100,000. This year, the lead co-sponsor of S. 557, the Public Good Charitable IRA Rollover Act of 2011, is Senator Charles Schumer. This particular piece of legislation makes the rollover provision permanent and removes the arbitrary age and monetary caps. The temporary provision lapsed at the end of 2010, and though it enjoys broad bipartisan support, all tax related provisions will most likely not be addressed until after the election.

The Artist-Museum Partnership Act: H.R. 1190, reintroduced in the House this year by Reps. John Lewis (D-GA) and Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Todd Platts (R-PA), allows artists to claim a full tax deduction for gifts of their own work. Without incentive to give their works to nonprofit institutions, creators generally sell their works to private collectors, and the public loses. The legislation remains popular, garnering bipartisan co-sponsorship in recent Congresses. Urge your House member to cosponsor.

Arts Education/ESEA

In December, the Arts in Education (AIE) programs at the United States Department of Education received $25.5 million in FY12 appropriations. This amount partially restores funds that were stricken as part of an overall elimination of AIE in an earlier temporary CR bill. AIE was the only education program to be terminated and then restored – and this was thanks to major advocacy the arts education grantees and others.

Also, late last year, the reauthorization of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act had a much needed boost from serious consideration by the Senate education committee. After years of inaction, the Senate committee approved a bipartisan bill that made major changes to current law. The bill also includes a “Well-Rounded Curriculum Amendment” that would impact many of the non-tested subjects that have lost ground since No Child Left Behind was implemented in 2002, including arts education programs.  The Senate language creates a single grant program through which states (with partners) can compete for funding to provide support to the arts, civics, foreign languages, geography, history, physical education and five other subjects.

Since committee passage, it has become clear that this legislation will not be given consideration on the Senate floor in 2012 due to pressures from economic and tax issues. In similar fashion, the U.S. House of Representatives has not given any time to its two pieces of education legislation – which are dramatically different from the Senate effort in that they seek to terminate and restrict much of the current federal role in education.

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