Autumn arts news: fiscal new year, arts education, travel ban, wireless mics, and overtime updates

October 6, 2017

Happy New Fiscal Year? Resolve to act on tax and funding policies

October 1 marked the beginning of the new federal fiscal year, accelerating action in Congress on tax reform and FY18 spending decisions. Orchestras are taking action to speak up in support of protecting charitable giving incentives and continued funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. A budget resolution making its way through Congress now may enable the Senate to pass a tax reform package with a simple majority vote in the months to come. And, Congress has until December 8 to settle next steps on funding the federal government. The next two weeks include a House and Senate break, so check out our Congressional Recess Schedule to find out when you can meet with your members of Congress in their home districts and states.

Arts education for all

Just as states were readying to meet a September 18 deadline to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education, the League co-presented a session on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) at the annual convening of the Arts Education Partnership. Together with speakers from the Education Commission of the States and National Association for Music Education, the League described where opportunities for the arts are within implementation of ESSA, two years after passage of the federal education law. Take a look at this and other key arts education topics that are top of mind for arts education stakeholders. Local advocacy is essential as states and school districts refine their approach to a well-rounded education. Learn more about what you can do through the League's ESSA Resource Center.
 
The U.S. Department of Education has just awarded 20 new grants in the FY17 Professional Development for Arts Educators (PDAE) program competition, one of two programs that identify and support models of how arts education can improve teaching, learning, and the school environment. Descriptions of the new awards, as well past recipients, can be found online

Newest travel restrictions begin October 18

Less than two weeks before the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments on challenges to a March 6 Executive Order banning travel by citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, the Trump Administration issued a Presidential Proclamation setting in place new travel restrictions for citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela for an indefinite period of time. The limitations begin October 18, vary by country, and some case-by-case waivers may apply. The Supreme Court is now weighing whether to hear oral arguments on the Executive Order, and the lower courts may begin review of the new September 24 Presidential Proclamation. The League has issued a statement calling for public policies that promote global expression and creativity, and outlining ongoing League action that supports the ability of artists to cross international borders. As further news and information become available, the League is posting specific information about the Proclamation's impact on the issuance of O and P artist visas on artistsfromabroad.org.

Wireless microphones: where are we now?

The League, as part of a larger Performing Arts Wireless Microphone Working Group, has recently been representing orchestras in a series of meetings at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and earlier this week filed joint comments to the FCC. The comments are in support of an agency proposal to expand eligibility to apply for a specific type of license that would offer interference protection to certain eligible performing arts wireless microphone users. Wireless microphones are most commonly used for voice amplification of on-stage performers, but interference-free use of wireless spectrum is also important for backstage cue and control devices, and for venues that offer audio assist devices to hearing-impaired audience members. For more background and details on this proposal, as well as important upcoming changes that wireless device operators should be aware of concerning vacating the 600 MHz band, please see our webpage on FCC Action on Wireless Microphones.

Overtime policies under review at U.S. Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor is taking a fresh look at potential regulations to change overtime compensation requirements. On September 25, 2017, the Department received many thousands of comments responding to an initial request for input on the topic under review by the Trump Administration. The League filed comments, along with other national nonprofit organizations, asking for a phased-in approach to changes, clear guidance for nonprofits, and additional opportunities to provide input when more specific regulatory changes are proposed. On August 31, 2017 a federal court formally struck down the Obama Administration's 2016 attempt at new regulations. The League will keep you posted as we learn more about timing for the DOL's next steps. Find background, read the League's comments, and learn more about the current rules for compliance in our summary of Overtime Policy Developments and Resources.