Informed by the research and community engagement of Built for Texas, United Ways of Texas tracked over 150 bills related to the nonprofit sector during the 87th legislative session. This work focused on key policies in the areas of:
- volunteerism & civic engagement
- charitable giving & tax exemptions
- state agencies & contracting
- nonprofit representation & operations
- overall state investment
Our advocacy efforts included providing written and oral testimony, meeting with legislative offices, and presenting legislative updates to stakeholder groups.
While the legislature had important conversations about recovering from the pandemic and Winter Storm Uri and supporting communities, there were no major policy changes in the nonprofit sector.
Priority nonprofit sector bills that passed include:
- SB 6 (Hancock): Provides COVID liability protections for nonprofits (retroactive to the start of the pandemic) that are making reasonable efforts to comply with government regulations and public health guidance.
- SB 44 (Zaffirini): Allows state employees to take paid leave to volunteer with VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) during times of disaster.
- HB 5 (Ashby): Creates a state broadband office (based in the Comptroller’s office), state broadband plan, and grant program to improve broadband infrastructure and address digital access and use in communities across the state. The bill also requires digital inclusion nonprofit representation on the Broadband Development Council and Board of Advisors—provisions championed by United Ways of Texas and other nonprofits.
- Key budget items: Fully funding HB 3 (2019) school finance commitments; $110 million increase in higher education financial aid; $8.6 billion in mental health funding across all agencies; $8 billion for employer and community-based organization partnerships.
United Ways of Texas and OneStar are committed to continuing the work of Built for Texas and championing the nonprofit sector statewide. Legislative committees will meet during the interim to study new topics and gather feedback from the public on priorities. The legislature will be back for special session later this year to allocate $16 billion additional dollars from the federal American Rescue Plan. We will continue to collaborate with our nonprofit partners on priorities that will strengthen and support the sector.