Elected legislators rely on their constituents to tell them what issues matter to them and how federally funded programs impact the communities they represent.
Make Your Voice Heard on Issues Affecting Children's Museums
Proposed Reauthorization of IMLS
Reform of U.S. Tax Code
FY2018 Federal Budget Status
Tools to Support DACA Advocacy
Proposed Elimination of CNCS
Proposed Elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness
President Trump has proposed and Congress is considering major changes to federal agencies and programs that could affect children’s museums. Some policy changes could affect how children’s museums raise money and operate in their communities.
Issue: Proposed Reauthorization of IMLS
On December 21, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Museum and Library Services Act of 2017 (S. 2271). This legislation will reauthorize the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for six years and contains a number of provisions specifically requested by the museum field.
A federally funded agency or program typically requires an "authorization," which is legislation passed by Congress providing its justification. Agencies and programs must be reauthorized periodically. IMLS was last authorized in 2010, and the authorization expired in 2016. Although an authorization is not a requirement for a program to receive federal funding, reauthorization sends a strong signal of Congressional support to the Appropriations Committees. An agency lacking an authorization risks becoming a target for elimination.
Take Action: Contact your Senators and urge them to show support for museums and cosponsor S. 2271. Tell them how your museum supports their constituents and how IMLS funds help your museum offer valuable services to your community.
Issue: Reform of U.S. Tax Code
Congress passed the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act along party lines on December 20, and President Trump signed it into law on Friday, December 22. The legislation includes a 21 percent corporate tax rate and a 37 percent top tax rate for individuals, beginning in 2018.
- The increase in the standard deduction means that fewer taxpayers will itemize their taxes. This is expected to affect charitable giving—recent research indicates a potential decrease of $13 billion in charitable giving.
- The bill does not repeal the Johnson Amendment, a provision in the U.S. tax code that, since 1954, prohibits all 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. This means that charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations are still prohibited from engaging in partisan electioneering for or against candidates.
The National Council of Nonprofits' analysis chart details the language in the final bill and its potential effects on nonprofits.
Issue: 2018 Funding for Agencies that Make Grants to Museums; President Proposed Elimination
The U.S. federal fiscal year 2018 began October 1, but because Congress has not passed a FY2018 budget, the government is operating under a continuing resolution (CR). Congress passed CRs that extended government operations (including IMLS funding) through January 19. Congress will try to pass a federal budget for the remainder of the fiscal year in January.
This CR funds federal agencies, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services, at similar levels to FY2017 funding through January 19, giving Congress more time to enact a federal budget. Given the many issues Congress must address—stabilizing Obamacare, renewing the children's health insurance program, protecting "Dreamers" from deportation, boosting border security, and increasing government spending caps—there is concern that disagreements could lead to a threatened government shutdown.
On September 14, the House of Representatives passed a $1.2 trillion spending package to fund much of the federal government in FY2018. This package includes four appropriations bills previously passed by the House in July, in addition to eight new bills, which cut spending for many federal agencies but generally are less severe than the cuts proposed in the President’s budget. The Senate continues to work on appropriations and has not passed any bills yet. Once the Senate passes its budget, Congress will have to come to an agreement on FY 2018 spending.
When President Trump proposed a FY2018 budget in March, he called for the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), National Endowment for the Arts, and National Endowment for the Humanities. However, the House bill included funding for all three agencies, and the Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed an appropriations bill that included increased funding for IMLS.
At the Association of Children’s Museums, we believe that the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities make important investments in American culture. We deeply oppose President Trump’s proposed closure of these three federal agencies, along with other drastic spending cuts that affect our communities.
Take Action: Contact your Senators about the importance of IMLS, NEA, and NEH to your museum and your community.
|Federally Funded Agency||FY2016 Enacted Appropriations
|FY2017 Enacted Appropriations
|President Trump's FY2018 Budget Proposal (in millions)||House FY2018 Budget (in millions) Passed 9.14.2017||Senate FY2018 Budget (in millions) Approved by Appropriations Committee 9.7.2017|
|Institute of Museum & Library Services||$230||$231||$23 (to fund agency's closure; not for grants)||$231||$235|
|---IMLS Office of Museum Services||$31||$32||$0|
for the Arts
|$148||$150||$29 (to fund agency's closure; not for grants)||$145||TBD|
for the Humanities
|$148||$150||$42 (to fund agency's closure; not for grants)||$145||TBD|
Issue: Net Neutrality
On Thursday, Dec. 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ended net neutrality regulations through a 3–2 party line vote. Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must enable access to all legal content and applications regardless of the source and without favoring or blocking specific services or websites. The FCC Chairman said that repealing net neutrality restores a favorable climate for investment, which will spur competition and innovation that benefits users. Those in favor of net neutrality argue that a tiered Internet with different levels of service/speed will create models that penalize consumers and content providers who do not pay higher prices. For example, ISPs could charge a premium for faster speed to access cloud-based technology (such as email, CRMs, donation management and/or membership systems).
Net neutrality proponents plan to file a lawsuit to delay this change in regulation. Congress legislation could settle the issue, but given the partisan view of net neutrality, and Congress' many priorities, it seems unlikely to move forward quickly.
Issue: Tools to Support DACA Advocacy
The Trump administration recently announced its decision to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) effective March 5, 2018, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began DACA's phase out.
President Obama established DACA in 2012 through executive order. The program was meant to help young undocumented immigrants, who arrived in the U.S. by age 16 and lived continuously in the country since June 15, 2007, obtain a temporary work permit as well as a two-year stay of deportation proceedings.
Approximately 800,000 people brought illegally to the United States as children are protected by DACA. They are often called Dreamers.
People who were eligible for DACA protections were at least 15 years old and younger than 31 as of June 15, 2012. This includes people who may be employed or interning at a children's museum. Some adult visitors to children's museums may have received protection under DACA.
ACM has developed background information and talking points about DACA to use to contact Congress to protect Dreamers.
Issue: Proposed Elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service
President Trump’s FY2018 proposed budget calls for the elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is best known for its AmeriCorps community service program. AmeriCorps members commit to working one or two years in exchange for help with living expenses, health insurance, and $5,800 after the completion of each year to pay for tuition or help pay off student loans. A similar program called Senior Corps, which is aimed at older volunteers, also would be eliminated.
More information is available at Voices for National Service.
Issue: Proposed Elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
President Trump’s FY2018 proposed budget calls for the elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This program erases student borrowers’ qualified loans if they work for a government or nonprofit employer for ten years. The proposed changes would end public service loan forgiveness for federal loans issued July 1, 2018 or later.
Tools to Support Your Advocacy Work
Your most effective tool in your advocacy work is your passion. You have stories to share about how your museum's exhibits, programs, and outreach affect the people in your community. When making a request of a policymaker, you want to convey how your ask—for funding, a new policy, etc.—will influence your ability to make positive change in your community. Consider calling your Senators and Representative at their Washington DC office to educate them on the issues that matter to your children's museum. Now is the time to make your voice heard on the issues that matter to your work and your community.
ACM works closely with other museum associations so that we speak with one voice in support of museums. The American Alliance of Museums offers a variety of materials to support museum advocacy.
- A customizable email template to request FY2018 funding for IMLS
- Know the issues that affect museums
- Use state-by-state snapshots of cultural funding for museums
- Speak up for museums on social media. Use #SaveIMLS on Twitter.
If you want to learn more about the issues that affect the charitable sector, follow the 100 Days for Good podcast. Produced by Independent Sector, the podcast shares what nonprofits, foundations, and anyone committed to the common good needs to know about what's happening in Washington.
Year-Round Advocacy Actions
To be an effective advocate for your museum and for the children's museum field, develop relationships with your local, state, and federal legislators. Invest your organization's time and effort into these relationships year-round.
- Put your legislators on your organization’s mailing list.
- When your organization receives a grant, write a thank you note. For a federal grant, thank your state's members of Congress and the director of the agency that awarded the grant. For a state grant, thank your state legislators and governor. For a local grant, thank your mayor and local council members.
- If your museum is turned down for a grant due to lack of funds, write to the appropriate decision makers (federal or state legislators, the governor) to ask for increased support for that agency or program.
- Invite your legislators for a tour of your facility and educate them about what you do and how your community benefits. The American Alliance of Museums' guide for hosting a successful visit with an elected official is a good place to start.
- Invite your legislators to openings and community celebrations and ask them to make a short speech about the importance of the children's museum to your community. Take pictures of legislators at these events and share them on the museum's social media channels and with the local newspaper.
- Invite your legislators to speak with your board of directors about early childhood education.