Advocacy Alert – September 8, 2023
In this Alliance Advocacy Alert:
- Speak Up for Museums: Congress Returns for a Busy Fall Season – and a Government Shutdown?
- News You Can Use: IMLS Grant Opportunities; Department of Labor Proposes New Overtime Rule; New Regulations Expand Public Service Loan Forgiveness; Education Department Launches New Student Loan Repayment Plan
- Plan to Participate: National Voter Registration Day 2023 is September 19!
- Save the Date: Museums Advocacy Day 2024 in Washington, D.C., Feb. 26-27
Congress Returns – Speak Up for Museums
Congress returns from its August recess to a busy fall season, including the need to pass fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations. Similar to previous years, Congress is unlikely to pass all appropriations bills by the October 1 beginning of the fiscal year deadline and is expected to require a (or multiple) Continuing Resolution(s) or CR(s) to keep the federal government operating. Negotiations over the annual federal spending bills are unlikely to be resolved prior to the December holidays. With partisan disagreements even over the details of the usually pro forma CR, a federal government shutdown is looking increasingly possible.
As the House and Senate set the table for negotiations, it’s critical for you to keep up your efforts urging your legislators’ support for at least $55.5 million for OMS.
In late July, the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Labor-HHS-Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill and released report language with Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) budget details (pp. 264-265), which, disappointingly, included recommended cuts of $3.25 million to Office of Museum Services (OMS) programs. Under these levels, OMS would be reduced from the current historic high of $55.5 million to $52.2 million total if enacted for FY 2024, which begins October 1, 2023.
On the House side, the House Labor-HHS-Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee approved a bill on July 14 that if enacted would provide level funding of $55.5 million for OMS. In light of recent substantial increases to the agency during the last several years and the current challenging political environment with hardline conservatives in the House demanding steep spending cuts, to emerge with level funding is a remarkable achievement. (For additional appropriations details, see the August 4 Alliance Advocacy Alert)
In late July, the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill recommending level funding with FY 2023 of $207 million each for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Previously on July 19, the full House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that if enacted would cut FY 2024 funding by 10 percent compared with FY 2023 to $186.3 million for each agency. Please contact Congress now to urge support of at least $207 million for the NEH and NEA.
News You Can Use
Six Grant Opportunities Available from IMLS: The Institute of Museum and Library Services is now accepting applications for six grant programs for museums. The Inspire! Grants for Small Museums now fund two project types. Small projects ($5,000-$25,000) do not require a cost share and large projects have increased maximum funding to $75,000 and require a 1:1 cost share. The Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services grants maximum funding level has increased to $250,000. The application deadline is November 15. Learn more and apply.
Department of Labor Proposes New Overtime Rule: On August 30, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced issuance of its proposed rule raising the salary thresholds for white collar employees by 55%. If finalized, this new rule would require employers to compensate full-time executive, administrative, and professional employees for any overtime worked if they earn less than $1,059/week ($55,068/year). The current threshold is $684/week ($35,568/year). The special category of Highly Compensated Employees would be hiked from $107,432/year to $143,988/year, a 35% increase. The DOL is also proposing automatic adjustments to these thresholds every three years. Once published in the Federal Register, which it has not yet, the public will have 60 days to provide comments. However, the suggested change could face legal challenges.
- Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales, and Computer Employees
- Frequently Asked Questions About the Proposed Rule
- Press Release: Department of Labor Announces Proposal to Restore, Extend Overtime Protections for 3.6 Million Low-Paid Salaried Workers
New Regulations Expand Public Service Loan Forgiveness: The recent Supreme Court ruling blocking President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program did not include the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. This program enables individuals who work for 10 years at charitable nonprofits or governments to earn forgiveness of any remaining federal student loan debt. New regulations went into effect on July 1 that allow more borrowers to participate in PSLF. Read more in these PSLF FAQs. Have you had success with the PSLF program? Please share your story with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Education Department Launches New Student Loan Repayment Plan: In addition to and separate from PSLF, on August 22, the Department of Education officially launched the “Saving on A Valuable Education (SAVE)” plan, its new income-driven repayment plan for federal student loans. (See the White House fact sheet and Department of Education press release with details about the plan’s specific policies.) The new plan is available in advance of October, when borrowers will have to start making payments after a three-year pause during the pandemic. The Department describes the SAVE plan as its most affordable repayment plan. It replaces the former Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE) Plan. For additional information the Department of Education is hosting a webinar, Repayment 101: Get Help With Your Federal Student Loans, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023; 7-8 p.m. Eastern Time.
National Voter Registration Day 2023 is September 19
National Voter Registration Day 2023 is just around the corner. Will your museum be participating? AAM is a Premier Partner of National Voter Registration Day, designed to ensure every eligible voter has the information and opportunity to vote. Get National Voter Registration Day communications and registration resources (including state-by-state guides) and learn more about the additional Civic Holidays, including National Voter Education Week and Vote Early Day. Our expansive Nonprofit Voter Resources provide a wide range of information about the many ways museums and nonprofits can engage in advocacy, lobbying, and permissible nonpartisan voter engagement activities. Use these free informational resources to participate and help ensure that as many communities as possible are #VoteReady and prepared to make their voices heard in the democratic process.
Save the Date for Museums Advocacy Day 2024 in Washington, D.C., Feb. 26-27
Museums Advocacy Day 2024 provides a critical opportunity to make the case for museums early in what is sure to be a high-stakes year for museums and other causes. Mark your calendar now and stay tuned for additional information and registration details this fall!
Your steadfast advocacy efforts make a huge difference in building needed support for museums and museum professionals.
Visit http://www.aam-us.org/advocacy to access all of AAM’s advocacy resources.