New Posts

Feb 8, 2016

Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax r...

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Feb 4, 2016

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.

  UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions...

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Hearing to Investigate Forged Letters

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held a hearing on the fraudulent letters sent to Congress on clean energy and climate legislation. Chairman Edward Markey (D-MA) wanted to know why congressional offices were not notified until after the vote occurred, even though the existence of the fake letters was discovered beforehand. The letters were sent out by Bonner & Associates, a subcontractor hired by Hawthorn.

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Role of Outside Groups Could Significantly Grow in Next Election

Eliza Newlin Carney's newest column in the National Journal ($$) discusses possible ramifications if the current trend of favoring deregulating campaign finance law continues. Carney notes that, "thanks to a sharp right turn in the judiciary, from the Supreme Court on down, those who favor a world without rules may be about to get their wish."

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FEC Decides Not to Appeal EMILY's List Decision

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has decided not to appeal a September ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in EMILY’s List v. FEC. That opinion struck down FEC regulations that limited donations to some nonprofit groups that engage in campaign activity. The FEC’s decision not to appeal may have major implications for campaign finance issues, as well as certain nonprofits' activity during upcoming elections in 2010 and 2012.

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Census Amendment Stalls Appropriations Bill, LSC Funding

Civil rights groups are urging the Senate to reject a controversial amendment to the FY 2010 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill (H.R. 2847) currently working its way through Congress. Sens. David Vitter (R-LA) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) have proposed the amendment, which is designed to cut off funding to the Census Bureau unless the 2010 Census survey includes a question regarding citizenship and immigration status. The amendment flap has delayed passage of the CJS legislation, which would, in part, increase funding and restore speech rights to Legal Services Corporation (LSC) grantees.

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Administration Defends Policies toward Lobbyists

On Oct. 19 the chairs for the Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITAC) sent President Obama a letter expressing opposition to the announcement that registered lobbyists should be prohibited from serving on federal advisory boards. The group asked Obama to reconsider the guidance.

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Brennan Center Files Suit for the Release of Opinion on Pledge Requirement

Last week the Brennan Center for Justice filed a lawsuit to force the release of a legal opinion regarding the "pledge requirement," requiring organizations that receive federal grants for HIV/AIDS work to pledge opposition to prostitution. The opinion was drafted in 2004 by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and supposedly questions the constitutionality of the federal law.

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FEC Announces Rule-Making on Coordinated Communications

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) approved two Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) to implement the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion in Shays v. FEC (Shays III). The court struck down FEC coordination rules, and other rules regarding "federal election activity."

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EMILY’s List Decision May Impact Contribution Limits, Other Campaign Finance Cases

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an opinion in EMILY’s List v. Federal Election Commission in September, striking down regulations that limited donations to nonprofit political action committees that are used for campaign activity. The regulations were intended to limit how certain nonprofit organizations raise and spend money for political campaigns.

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NCRP Report Confirms Return on Investment in Advocacy

New research from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), a national foundation watchdog organization, concludes that public policy work is an effective strategy to address societal issues. A majority of grantmakers have traditionally steered away from funding public policy, grassroots advocacy, and other civic engagement activities. However, studies continue to show that advocacy work is vital to advancing a nonprofit organization's mission. The NCRP finding that there is such a great return on investment in advocacy could resonate with funders.

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Lobbyists Removed from Industry Trade Advisory Committees

Last week we noted the paradoxical new policy limiting the role of lobbyists on federal advisory committees. Reportedly, the Commerce Department and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative took this request very seriously and contacted companies and organizations with representatives serving on Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITAC). With an Oct. 30 deadline, participants must certify they are not lobbyists, or a replacement must be found before their term is complete. About 132 people on ITACs are registered lobbyists.

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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