Chris Vest, CAE
Chris Vest, CAE, is director of public policy at ASAE.
Lawmakers heared from hundreds of association execs during ASAE’s annual legislative fly-in in March. Among the issues that were discussed were tax reform and government employees attending conferences and meetings.
Association professionals from more than 35 states made over 250 congressional office visits on Capitol Hill on American Associations Day. ASAE's annual legislative fly-in gave attendees the chance to talk to lawmakers about specific issues affecting their organizations and to reinforce the role associations can play as a resource for policymakers.
Participants in the March event focused on the potential impact of tax reform on associations and declining government employee attendance at association conferences.
Both the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee are looking to advance tax reform this year. ASAE's fly-in attendees used the opportunity to explain how changes in the tax treatment of certain revenue-generating activities would affect associations' bottom lines and their ability to carry out their tax-exempt purpose. While tax reform in the new Congress is still in a developmental stage, a discussion draft released last year by then-Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) proposed treating associations' royalty income and certain qualified sponsorship payments as taxable.
The meetings issue was also timely. Lawmakers reportedly may reintroduce the Conference Accountability Act (S. 1347) at some point this year. ASAE argues that the Obama administration has already greatly reduced spending and increased reporting on travel and conferences and that further statutory language will hurt the ability of federal employees to attend important association meetings.
Fly-in participants also took new research to the Hill that highlights the association community's contributions to the economy and to society in general. A summary of the research can be found on the Power of A website.
The advocacy day is important for building awareness and support for associations' legislative concerns and for helping lawmakers see associations as a collective industry, not a mishmash of varied special interests.