Last year, the board took up the issue of mandatory community service for those receiving welfare benefits when it was presented in the senate as SB 905 sponsored by Senator Joe Hune, (R) District 22. Since then, the bill has been revised to Community Service Bill SB 276. It recently passed the Senate on September 18th by a vote of 27-9.
The bill has been assigned to the House’s Families, Children and Seniors committee chaired by Rep Kenneth Kurtz (R), 58th District. Our challenge is that most legislators believe if individuals are getting aid from the state, whether it is job training or any form of government support, then they should be subject to the requirements that the states sets – including “mandated volunteering.” As you can imagine, those in the sector find this perspective offensive and insensitive to those in need. Our perspective is focused squarely on the impact to nonprofits and the true purpose of volunteering (please see our position statement below).
We have done and or plan to do the following actions to oppose SB 276:
- Provided our opposition statement on September 17th to Madelyn Day, Senate Public Policy Analyst for the Democratic Caucus.
- Survey of Volunteer Centers to get feedback and build strategy
- Received support from our National Council of Nonprofits to further frame our opposition
- Wrote a blog incorporating MNA’s position and perspective from the sector
- Communique sent to MNA Board Members and networks
The following names are those listed as members of the House’s Families, Children and Seniors committee. Please provide any relevant intelligence, thoughts or feedback for making our case to these legislators.
Kenneth Kurtz (R) Committee Chair, 58th District
Tom Hooker (R) Majority Vice-Chair, 77th District
Cindy Denby (R) 47th District
Rick Outman (R) 70th District
Klint Kesto (R) 39th District
Roger Victory (R) 88th District
Marcia Hovey-Wright (D) Minority Vice-Chair, 92nd District
Dian Slavens (D) 21st District
Robert Kosowski (D) 16th District
Angie Lake, Committee Clerk
Michigan Nonprofit Association Position Statement regarding Mandated Community Service:
The desire to make a difference by helping our neighbors as volunteers is an essential element of civil society. Community based volunteerism is one of the unifying experiences of our society and a powerful problem-solving resource. The act of volunteering is, and should remain, about fostering an ethic of doing-good for others without restraint or punitive mandate.
Nonprofits rely on well trained, highly engaged, and adequately monitored and supported volunteer base to meet their missions. Nonprofits play a central role in promoting volunteerism, providing quality volunteer opportunities, and ensuring every volunteer is willing and able to fulfill their responsibilities. The Michigan Nonprofit Association calls on the Michigan Legislature to work with nonprofits to develop policies that promote the value of a meaningful volunteerism for Michigan’s citizens and communities. In order to build a better Michigan, our goal is to continue to promote an ethic of life-long engagement for the public good. To help us meet this goal, we strongly urge lawmakers to avoid developing any public policies that dilute the altruistic underpinnings of volunteerism and threaten the ability of nonprofits to advance their missions.
Submitted by Donna Murray-Brown, President & CEO, Michigan Nonprofit Association
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