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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Wrangling over DISCLOSE Act Slows Bill Down, but Deal May Be Near in House

Some members of Congress have started to explore exempting certain nonprofits from the DISCLOSE Act, the bill developed by Democrats to respond to the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. While some nonprofits are concerned about donor disclosure requirements in the bill, other groups are concerned that exemptions or changes to the bill would render the legislation ineffective. These organizations worry that without strong disclosure requirements, the bill would allow political ads sponsored by anonymous sources to flood the airwaves at election time.

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BP and Environmental Nonprofits: Conflicts and Complaints

Nonprofit organizations are working diligently to counter the effects of the catastrophic oil spill that followed the failure of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Groups are aiding in cleanup efforts, protesting, raising money, and engaging in various other activities to turn anger into action. However, some nonprofits are also facing harsh criticism for accepting donations and other gifts from the oil company, and the worst oil spill disaster in the country's history has jeopardized partnerships between energy companies and environmental nonprofits.

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With Changes to DISCLOSE Act, it May Be Considered This Week

POLITICOreports that House Democrats have reached an agreement with the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the DISCLOSE Act. "The NRA had objected to some of the disclosure requirements for the new campaign finance proposals, and that had kept moderate, pro-gun Democrats from backing the legislation. The NRA said it would not comment until specific legislative language is revealed."

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On May 27, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered a judgment declaring that may accept unlimited donations. The judgment also prevents the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from enforcing contribution limits against the group and its prospective donors.

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GAO Finds Grants to Nonprofits Insufficiently Cover Costs

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report on federal grants and nonprofits. Federal policy permits nonprofits to keep a share of contract funds for indirect costs, costs not exclusively associated with particular programs or projects, such as overhead. Unfortunately, state and local governments often keep the money for themselves. "GAO found differences in the rate in which state and local governments reimburse nonprofits for indirect costs."

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Last week, just before the House Rules Committee was set to consider the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175), the meeting was cancelled. Now, many are rushing to explain why this happened and what it means for the bill's future. Democratic staff said the delay was because of the need to consider more urgent issues. The Rules committee received 37 amendments. Reportedly, they now hope to consider the bill after the Memorial Day recess.

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"Shadow Congress": 172 Former Lawmakers Now Lobbyists

TPM Muckraker has found that 172 former members of Congress currently work as lobbyists, regarding this system as "the Shadow Congress." TPM notes that "over the last few decades, a vast army of what might be called uber-lobbyists has taken shape in the capital, made up of retiring lawmakers eager to cash in on K Street after a lifetime of making do with public sector salaries."

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Citizens United Decision Spurs State Campaign Finance Legislation

State legislators across the nation are introducing campaign finance legislation to mitigate the impact of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions may now directly and expressly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates for federal office.

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Nonprofits Tell Subcommittee about Impact of Ineffective Counterterrorism Rules

On May 26, representatives from the nonprofit sector testified before a subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee to address how anti-terrorist financing laws impact charities. The hearing marked the first time an oversight panel has considered how the Department of the Treasury's policies impact charitable groups and was a major step in bringing attention to the largely ignored challenges facing charities and foundations since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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House Committee Approves DISCLOSE Act

With a 5-3 vote, the Committee on House Administration approved an amended version of the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections), H.R. 5175. The committee adopted a manager's amendment offered by Chairman Robert Brady (D-PA), and incorporated additional changes voted on during the meeting.

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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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