Another FSC Amicus Brief: The Center for Auto
Safety v. Athey
The State of Maryland charges fees to nonprofits (like the Center for Auto Safety) based upon the total contributions received nationally, not only contributions from Maryland. The state argues that large charities' registration forms require more time to review, therefore it is permitted to calculate fees based on nationwide contribution receipts. User fees which merely cover the cost of protecting the public have been upheld even when the regulated activity involved protected First Amendment speech.
The Center questions whether Maryland undertook any analysis of its registration at all, and describes the fee as a tax. The Center does not challenge Maryland's right to regulate charities, but it challenges Maryland's power to impose on regulated organizations whatever fees it wishes to receive, to support whatever level of regulation it wishes to impose. Counsel for the Center, David Vladek, Esquire, argues that high fees have shut new and small organizations out of the "marketplace of ideas," and that the problem could worsen.
In its brief, FSC points out to the court
the collective burden imposed by state charitable
solicitation fees across the country. FSC argues that the
fee structure interferes with interstate commerce as well as
with nonprofit organizations' rights of free speech and
FSC Calls for Arter's Removal
The issue also affects the economy in Pennsylvania. As Arter's comments affect the revenues of nonprofit groups, they will not be able to implement their charitable, educational, or social welfare programs. As groups hire fewer people and purchase fewer goods and services, Arter's bias can affect the livelihood of taxpayers in Pennsylvania (and other states)who benefit from services of nonprofits, and even those who make their living in industries such as printing and marketing.
FSC leaders pledged to follow-up their
call for his removal by educating the nonprofit and business
community in Pennsylvania about Arter, his comments, and
A New C3: The Free Speech Defense and
The new organization's Board of Directors are: Mike Beard, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence; Sandy Butler, United Seniors Association; Dick Dingman, Free Congress Foundation; Edythe Ledbetter, Center for Marine Conservation; Ron Robinson, Young America's Foundation; and Bill Cook, CPA. Edythe Ledbetter will serve as President; Ron Robinson will be Vice President; Bill Cook will be Treasurer, and Dick Dingman will be the Secretary. Mike Beard and Dick Dingman will serve as Co-Chairs of the Board of Directors.
President Ledbetter announced that the
new Fund will not begin operation until the IRS affirms its
nonprofit status expected in early spring. At that time, she
said, it will establish criteria for its litigation program.
In addition, the Fund will oversee the annual fall
conference that has been sponsored by the Free Speech
Coalition and the Freedom Forum, as well as conducting other
educational efforts. Tax-exempt status under IRC section
501(c)(3) will allow the fund to obtain foundation support
as well as tax-deductible contributions.
Legislative Briefing Breakfast Called "Great
Former Congressman Jim Bilbray (D-NV) described the ideological diversity of the Coalition as a great strength. He pointed out that, right now, the Postal Service is winning the argument with many Congressmen against continuing special third-class mail rates. Most people think that nonprofit mail is subsidized and if its rates are raised, other mail rates could be less.
Howard Segermark, FSC Legislative Director, reported that Senator Stevens (R-AK) has not lessened his opposition to nonprofit groups' use of special third-class rates. His position as Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on the Postal Service provides him ample opportunity to act on his views. Segermark noted that there is currently no "logical bill on which he might attach an amendment which would accomplish his goal, but there almost certainly will be before this session of Congress is over." FSC will monitor this matter carefully.
Jennie Thompson, with Craver, Matthews, Smith & Company, serves as co-Treasurer of the Coalition. She announced that the 1995 budget is approximately 50 percent larger than 1994, but FSC's workload will be 100 percent larger.
Harriet Trudell, with the Feminist Majority, co-chair of the FSC Membership Committee, reported that membership continues to grow among for-profit and nonprofit groups.
The burdens on nonprofit organizations,
according to Joe Levin, Southern Poverty Law Center
President and FSC Executive Committee member, require
organizations and individuals to work together. He described
the Free Speech Coalition as the organization most
vigorously attacking the roots, branches and leaves of
over-regulation. He urged groups to make the Coalition
bigger and more active in 1995.
Federal Trade Commission Attaches Burdensome Fines on
Late Premium Deliveries
If a premium is not received within the stated time frame, or within thirty days, the FTC can file deceptive competition charges against that organization. Fines can total $10,000 per incident. Katherine Boland, Esquire, at Bayh, Connaughton, Fensterheim, and Malone, P.C., reminds FSC members that the $10,000 fine applies to each violation. If ten books arrive late into the hands of contributors, the fines could total $100,000, $10,000 for each violation charged by the FTC.
Comments on the proposed regulations are
due by March 31. Please call the FSC legislative office at
202-547-2222 for a copy of the proposed regulations.
Lobbying Registration and Disclosure
Congress may consider some kind of gift
ban after it concludes consideration of the provisions of
the GOP's Contract With America. Early action in the Senate
is not expected. However, such action may have been
accelerated when the President called for lobbying reform
legislation in his State of the Union address and received a
sustained standing ovation.
Around the States
The City of Columbus & the State
The State of Hawaii