What Does the Election Mean for Nonprofits in Washington?

November 16, 2020
"I Voted" sticker.
Photo courtesy of Parker Johnson on Unsplash.

The 2020 election has (finally) come to a close and a great deal happened in the state and the nation.

Let’s start with outcomes relevant for nonprofits:

  • Voter turnout was amazing! Both nationally and in Washington state, the election set records for voter participation. Secretary of State Kim Wyman predicted last week that Washington state could reach 90 percent voter turnout, and as of this writing nearly 4 million votes had been cast and counted by Washingtonians — the highest number in the state’s history. This is great news. Civic participation is vital for a healthy democracy and good for nonprofits. Nonprofits depend on volunteers and donors whose engagement is driven by the same spirit of participation.
  • Our Congressional delegation will remain very similar. All of our current Representatives were reelected with the exception of a change in the 10th district, where Rep. Denny Heck vacated his seat to run, successfully, for Lt. Governor of Washington. Representative-elect Marilyn Strickland has been elected to replace Rep. Heck, becoming the first Black Congressional Representative from Washington State and the third Korean Representative in the nation, along with Michelle Steele in California. We will have three Republican Representatives, seven Democratic Representatives, and two Democratic Senators. Nationally, Democrats are expected to retain control of the House of Representatives, while Republicans will likely retain control of the Senate (though this will be determined based on the outcome of two run-off elections in Georgia slated for early January).
  • President-elect Biden is expected to rescind President Trump’s recent Executive Order 1350 that limits the ability of federal contractors and grantees to provide workplace training on diversity, equity and inclusion. The President-elect will also hopefully put an end to the effort to undermine the Johnson Amendment, which protects nonprofit nonpartisanship.
  • Governor Inslee was re-elected to a third term. However, he is currently on a shortlist of many for nomination as Secretary of the EPA and DOE (Gov. Inslee has made statements that he intends to stay in Washington). At the state level, the balance of Republicans and Democrats in our State Legislature will remain similar, though there will be a number of new faces. There will be seven new State Senators starting in 2021, and 18 new Representatives.

Implications for policy

Federal Policy

  • With the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives remaining divided along partisan lines, it will be difficult for Congress to pass major legislation and reforms in the next two years. However, now that the election is over, negotiations on a new COVID-19 Relief Bill can resume. Along with many others, Washington Nonprofits is lobbying for meaningful relief for nonprofits and communities, including:
    • A second round of PPP loans and a simplified loan forgiveness process.
    • Expansion of the universal charitable deduction to stimulate additional giving to nonprofits.
    • An increase of unemployment insurance relief to self-insured nonprofits from 50 percent to 100 percent and extension of relief into 2021.
    • Additional aid for state and local governments. This additional funding is critical to help state and local governments provide essential services in the face of severe revenue shortfalls and will allow for more of the government contracts that nonprofits currently depend to be maintained.
    • Increased funding for a range of important community services provided by nonprofits, with an emphasis on grants rather than loans.

State Policy

  • The state budget will be under tremendous pressure this session, with a projected $4 billion shortfall in revenue. This, combined with a ban on deficit spending and significant constraints on what elements of the budget can be cut, means the state budget will be the main focus of the 2021 session. This comes at a time when community needs have been exceptionally stressed by the many crises of 2020. We will continue to urge the legislature to explore possibilities for new revenue to reduce cuts to critical services provided by nonprofits.
  • Redistricting will take place in 2021 based on the results of the 2020 Census. We will keep nonprofits informed regarding this process and encourage you to participate to ensure a fair and inclusive process.
  • Senator Jamie Pedersen plans to introduce the Washington Nonprofit Corporations Act during the 2021 Legislative session. This comprehensive bill, developed by the Washington State Bar Association Nonprofit Committee, will improve the statutes governing nonprofits. Washington Nonprofits supports this important modernization of nonprofit law in Washington and will stay engaged in the process to ensure that the bill reflects the wishes and needs of nonprofits. A summary of proposed changes can be found here. We welcome your input.

The 2020 election made history. Americans cast more votes than ever before, and elected officials are more diverse and representative of the communities they serve. We are excited to share that Washington Nonprofits member T’wina Nobles, CEO of the Tacoma Urban League, was elected to the Washington State Senate! Washington Nonprofits looks forward to 2021 and the many improvements we hope to achieve for the nonprofit sector.

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