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Pa. Legislators Form Charitable Nonprofit Caucus

An alliance of nonprofit groups in Pennsylvania has worked with the state’s General Assembly to set up the Pennsylvania Charitable Nonprofit Caucus, a grouping of state legislators that will discuss charity-related issues.

The Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations, or PANO, and the United Way of Pennsylvania led the effort to create the caucus, which includes Democratic and Republican members of both the house and senate.

“State government and charities share the common goal of promoting quality of life in our communities,” Joe Geiger, PANO’s executive director, said in a statement. “The caucus will help both nonprofits and lawmakers by preventing the unintended consequences of otherwise good legislation.”

David Ross, PANO’s public-policy officer, said charities would like to discuss legislation in areas like charitable tax exemptions, sales taxes on services, lobbying, volunteerism, and government money for human services and the arts. He said they are worried, for example, about a bill, SB 1328, that would allow local governments to charge tax-exempt organizations fees for “essential services” like police and fire departments.

Saying that charities have “one arm tied behind their backs” because they are unable to contribute to political campaigns and can do only limited amounts of lobbying, Mr. Ross said the caucus would offer a way to give feedback to lawmakers.

The legislative caucus, which will officially debut on June 17, will be co-chaired by Sen. Andy Dinniman and Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, both Democrats, and Rep. Mario Scavello, a Republican, with a Republican senate co-chairman yet to be named.

A group of 30 charities and public foundations will act as an advisory board to the caucus.

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