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POCAA Adopted as Model Law by Uniform Law Commission

Lawyers meeting in the resort town of Vail, Colorado adopted the Protection of Charitable Assets Act (POCAA) according to a Uniform Law Commission news release.

POCAA would add yet another registration requirement for charities and religious organizations.  It would also allow charity regulators to conduct investigations of covered entities under vague and very poorly defined standards, and without court supervision or guaranteed First Amendment protections of speech and Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.  POCAA is badly written and is ripe for abuse by the charity regulators who pushed this legislation.

Here’s the draft that was considered for approval.

Charity regulators will now begin their insider lobbying at taxpayer expense for states to adopt this model law.  Undoubtedly they would soon lobby to increase their staff and their budgets to pay for the extra paper shuffling that POCAA would require.  The lawyers who wrote POCAA will undoubtedly discuss this special interest legislation over a good steak, and law professors probably have already begun writing their law review articles praising POCAA.

Meanwhile, charity revenues are suffering from a prolonged poor economy.  State budget problems are resulting in cuts of funding for charities, domestic violence shelters, senior centers and mental health facilities.  From The Nonprofit Quarterly, here’s what’s happening just in Minnesota:

A mental health facility in Duluth staffed by the Community Partnership Network stopped operating, initially offering no information to people calling for assistance.

Deemed by the courts as one of the many non-essential services, the Senior Linkage Line offering help to seniors and their caregivers on topics such as in-home services, meals, transportation, and housing shut down in the Twin Cities area.

The Associated Press reports that, “Arc Minnesota, a St. Paul nonprofit that helps people with disabilities, has suspended 90 percent of a housing service since losing its state funding.” Arc Minnesota has helped 200 people who were homeless or formerly institutionalized find their own housing in the past 18 months.

There are 21,000 families with 37,000 kids in day care programs in Minnesota and 4,000 more on waiting lists. State subsidies pay approximately half the cost. The shutdown has caused many day care providers to cut back their hours or clients, though Governor Dayton has appealed to the courts to reclassify day care as an essential service.

Some domestic abuse shelters such as Anne Marie’s Alliance in St. Cloud have been able to survive the shutdown, so far, by drawing on reserves. But the Minnesota Coalition of Battered Women says that most domestic violence shelters are small and few have anything like the St. Cloud organization’s resources. According to the AP, “Shelters in Thief River Falls, Fergus Falls and Dakota County have closed because of the state shutdown.”

Trixie Ann Golberg, president of Life Track Resource, a nonprofit that provides services for immigrants, refugees, and people with disabilities, told National Public Radio, that the shutdown forced the organization to close its services for refugees and immigrants and since July 1 has laid off one-third of its staff.”

Quite frankly, instead of more burdens on charities and taxpayers that POCAA would create, I like my idea much better:  Cut charity regulator budgets.

Stayed tuned for how to defeat POCAA when it comes to your state.  Oh, and way to go, Uniform Law Commission!

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