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Special Report from Californians for the Arts: AB5 and the Arts Industries

As you may know, Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) was signed into law in September and goes into affect on January 1, 2020, making it more difficult for employers to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees.
   
In the past few months many of ACSO's members have reached out to us with concerns about how this law will impact the way they currently employ contract educators, musicians, production support, and many other types of workers. We know many of you rely on contractors to carry out your missions and programs and to bring classical music to your communities. We have heard your concerns and we have been in ongoing communication about them with Californians for the Arts, our statewide arts advocacy organization, and California Arts Advocates, their lobbying arm.
  
Last week, Californians for the Arts issued an important report summarizing their efforts over the past year to draft exemption language for AB5 on behalf of performing arts workers. And even though the bill passed without as much support and clarity for the arts sector as we all wanted, they are still working to advocate and educate the legislature on the ways that arts do business in California and to hopefully seek corrections and add exemptions to the bill.
  
But they need our help. Here are three things you should do right away:

  1. Take a short survey to share data with Californians for the Arts about how AB5 will impact your organization. This will help them with case-making.
  2. To stay informed about this issue, read a white paper that Californians for the Arts contributed to that clearly explains the background of AB5, how it could impact arts nonprofits, why worker classifications matters, and how organizations can comply.
  3. Sign up for a free webinar on December 3 at 10:00 AM PST called Dealing with the Drama: How the New Independent Contractor Law Affects the Arts Community with attorneys Vida Thomas and Bryan Hawkins. Californians for the Arts is also conducting workshops and town halls about AB5 all around the state. Click here for more information.

Also, consider joining with ACSO by becoming a member of Californians for the Arts. They advocate and lobby at the state capital for all of us to raise public awareness of the importance of the arts, to increase state funding levels, and to influence legislation that will benefit the arts.
  
There could be more changes to AB5, including cleanup language and new exemption in the future. ACSO will continue to work closely with Californians for the Arts and share with our members the latest developments.

Legislative Updates on SB 1343 and AB 5

ACSO has been tracking two pieces of legislation that could have a big impact on orchestras and other classical music organizations in California. The latest developments are outlined below.
 

 
SB 1343 - Employers: Sexual Harassment Training Requirements
On August 30, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 778, extending California employers’ obligation to provide employees with sexual harassment training from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021. This means your organization now has an additional twelve months to comply with the recently legislated sexual harassment training requirements laid out in SB 1343. Click here for more information on the extension, courtesy of the National Law Review. Click here to learn more about the original legislation and the training requirements. Please note that SB 1343 was passed into law a year ago and SB 778 extends the timeframe in which the training must be carried out.   


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Your Action Needed to Oppose NEA, NEH, and CPB Budget Cuts!

Call to Action from Americans for the Arts:
   
For a third straight year, the current administration has proposed to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB). It is time to ask Congress—as it has done in the past two fiscal years—to again reject this short-sighted budget request in a bipartisan, bicameral manner, and increase funding for the Endowments. 
   
Use this easy tool to contact your member of Congress today to urge them to reject the president's proposal.
   
Saving the cultural agencies happened because thousands of arts advocates made their voices heard on Capitol Hill. Congress not only dismissed these initial calls for termination, but in fact gave steady increases in funding to several cultural agencies. Check out a brief history of budgetary proposals and final funding for these agencies for the past three years. 
   
Also, be sure to check out Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch's statement regarding the president's budget proposal.

   

April is Officially Arts, Culture, and Creativity Advocacy Month in California

Californians for the Arts has announced that starting in 2019, April will officially be Arts, Culture and Creativity Month in the state of California and April 23 will be Advocacy Day in Sacramento. ACSO joins with our arts partners around the state in supporting these efforts. 

Visit Californians for the Arts' website to learn more about what we are advocating for and how you can get involved. One of the best ways to make the case for supporting the arts is to share your Arts Impact Stories. Submissions will help bring public awareness of the importance of the arts; to ensure that the arts are an ongoing part of the public dialogue; and to encourage Californians to care about the arts as a critical component of their own lives and the lives of their communities.

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Speak Up Today to Repeal New Tax on Nonprofits

The comprehensive tax reform provisions signed into law last December include a new requirement for nonprofits to pay Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) equal to 21% of the value of commuting and parking benefits provided to employees. The League of American Orchestras has partnered with the broader nonprofit sector to ask for clarification of the new rules, delayed implementation, and repeal of this unprecedented tax on nonprofit expenses. While no guidance has been issued by the Internal Revenue Service to clarify which benefits are subject to the tax and how to value certain benefits, the new requirements officially took effect beginning on January 1, 2018.

A tax package now under consideration by Congress includes a provision to repeal the new tax on nonprofits. You can take action today by contacting your elected officials to ask them to:

  1. Weigh in with the Treasury Department on your behalf, and ask for a delay in implementing the new tax.
  2. Take legislative action to repeal the new tax on nonprofit parking and transportation employee benefits.

The Johnson Amendment is at Risk Again - Take Action!

The Johnson Amendment is at risk again. This Amendment (passed in 1954) forbids nonprofits from endorsing candidates. We can of course take positions on ballot measures and legislation, but the Johnson Amendment protects us from being pressured to support a particular candidate for Congress, Board of Supervisors, or any other elected office.

Imagine if a major donor asked your organization to publicly support his choice for the Board of Supervisors. Or if a foundation president sent a letter to grantees asking them to publicly oppose the same candidate. The Johnson Amendment protects us from this kind of pressure.

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AB 2252 Will Help Nonprofits Obtain State Grants

Earlier this year CalNonprofits told us about Assembly Bill 2252, to create a searchable database of state grants —from all state agencies— on a single portal accessible to the public.

The bill also would enable nonprofits to submit state funding applications electronically. AB 2252 is sponsored by CalNonprofits and authored by Assemblymember Monique Limón, who is also Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Nonprofit Sector.

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