Kettering explains regulations under consideration for non-profit organizations
The drive from Lake View to Des Moines on Monday was better than advertised. White outs from blowing snow and icy winter driving conditions were mostly in the rear view mirror as I exited Glidden to the east. Highways 30, 169, and 141 were cleared. The remaining trip to the Capitol was pleasantly uneventful at near speed limit pace. I still believe those 55 mile per hour signs should be adjusted to reflect a little closer to the speed Iowans are actually traveling on our primary road system.
The pleasantries of the day quickly evaporated as the chair called the State Government Committee to order at 2 p.m. Yes, I was there in time to answer roll call. He turned the chair over to his vice chairman and asked to be recognized to run a bill concerning Iowa nonprofit organizations providing for fees, and making an appropriation. It was a proposed Attorney General bill. The bill's manager explained there had been abuses within the nonprofits. Oversight and regulation was needed for the millions collected, the overpaid managers, and the amounts distributed. In order to provide this, the bill requires all Iowa nonprofits to file a report and pay a fee to the Secretary of State in odd numbered years. Those monies would be used by the Attorney General to hire two new employees and provide the oversight and regulation of the nonprofits. I hope this gives you an idea of the bill. For those of you who want to read it in detail, it is Senate Study Bill 3139.
The Attorney General's office employs 220 people; 125 of those are attorneys, and they have a budget of $20 million. It appears they also have the authority to already regulate in this area. It is not so certain they have the authority to require reporting or the payment of fees. Lastly, there are about 12,000 nonprofit organizations that would be required to report and pay fees under this legislation. Think about your local softball, band booster, Little League, or other community nonprofit group. The bill's manager explained this should not be a partisan bill and the right thing would be to move the bill forward. The discussion was spirited. One side advocated the need to address these multimillion dollar abuses, the other side advocated this should not be done on the backs of volunteer small local nonprofits, and that the Attorney General already had the authority. That's the issue, you have the information, you can decide. It was a party line vote. I hope that gave you a feel for day to day committee work at the Capitol.
Smoking was front page news this past week. The House passed a statewide ban with notable exemptions. The debate moves to the Senate. I leave you with the Iowa State motto: Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.
There will be a Forum at 8.30 a.m. at the Westside American Legion on March 1st and at 10 a.m. at the Community Center in Halbur. As always, you may contact me via email at email@example.com or by calling the Senate switchboard at 515/281-3371. My postal address is State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319. When I am home you may reach me at work 712/657-8525 or talk to my home answering machine at 712/657-3347.