Act Now: Final Push to LIft LSC Advocacy Restrictions

Act Now: Final Push to LIft LSC Advocacy Restrictions

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November 16, 2009

CLPI Colleagues:

We're almost there! On November 5, the U.S. Senate passed the Commerce Justice Science (CJS) FY2010 appropriations bill, lifting the advocacy-related restrictions on Legal Services Corporation (LSC) grantees' non-federal funds. Since 1996, Congress has prohibited LSC-funded organizations from engaging in legislative and administrative advocacy, class actions and other broader solutions for low-income families, even where such activities would be funded by state, local or private philanthropic dollars. 

In June of this year, the House passed its version of the CJS appropriations bill. The House version failed to remove the 1996 advocacy-related restrictions but did lift another restriction on the ability of LSC-funded organizations to seek attorneys fees in relevant cases (Both bills keep in place existing restrictions on the use of federal funds for prisoner- and abortion-related matters). The House and Senate CJS appropriations bills will now head to a conference committee, where the differences will be reconciled.

Click here to see today's Washington Post editorial which makes a great case for lifting the restrictions on non-federal funds.

The Senate conferees have been named (see below), and we need your help again to make sure that the conference bill does not include any of the advocacy-related restrictions. Charities and private individuals should contact your Senator or a Senator's office with whom you have a good relationship to let them know that you support the Senate CJS bill's lifting of the LSC restrictions on non-federal funds. 

On the House side, the Brennan Center for Justice has indicated that it is particularly important to contact Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Chair of the House CJS Appropriations Subcommittee. To date, Rep. Mollohan has not expressed public support for removing the non-federal funds restriction. He will be critical to this important advance. The full list of House conferees has yet to be named, but particular attention should be paid to the chairs and ranking members of both subcommittees: Sens. Mikulski (D-MD) and Shelby (R-AL) and Reps. Mollohan and Frank Wolf (R-VA).  *Please note that Senator Mikuski has championed this effort in the Senate. She should be thanked and know that we're helping with her colleagues. Click here for a full list of Senate conferees.
 
Thanks to Emily Savner and the Brennan Center for Justice for all of their leadership on this issue - now and over the years. For more information, please visit the Brennan Center's Web site or Independent Sector

If you have any questions, please contact Matt Saperstone at matt@clpi.org or 202-387-5072.

Larry Ottinger
President
Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest

P.S.  This is an example of grassroots lobbying by CLPI since we are asking you as members of the public to take action on specific legislation. Having elected to fall under the IRS Section 501(h) expenditure test, CLPI can spend tens of thousands on grassroots lobbying and even more on direct lobbying. Those acting officially as representatives of a private foundation may not engage in grassroots or direct lobbying without the foundation incurring a significant taxable expenditure. You should check with your counsel if you have any questions.

 


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Elizabeth M. Heagy

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