Victory in the Pacific!
I know I promised several more postings about the enormously valuable Knights of Columbus “Summit on Volunteerism,” but, at least in the short term, the good news from the Aloha State trumps everything else.
I’m pleased to report that H. 1749, the bill that would have required fraternals to pay premium tax in Hawaii, has been amended to delete all references to fraternal benefit societies.
Click on the following links to review a copy of the Finance Committee's report and the amended version of the bill to read the good news for yourself. Every fraternal benefit society can take particular gratification from the report's remark that our testimony in support of removing fraternals from the bill "was persuasive." NFCA’s local counsel had high praise for our four member societies doing business in Hawaii – Thrivent, Knights of Columbus, Independent Order of Foresters, and Woodmen of the World/Omaha – thanking them and their local members “for their time, diligent effort and valuable assistance in making this win possible.”
So why was a victory in Hawaii so important to us? After all, it’s a small state and very few members write business or engage in fraternal activities there. The bottom line is that if one state – no matter how small – starts applying premium tax laws to fraternals, then others will certainly follow. It’s the proverbial “camel’s nose under the tent,” and this particular camel decided to test the taxation waters in Honolulu. We had to win – and we did!
The effort to defeat these bills has been an excellent case study for NFCA. It highlights the threats we face at the state level, demonstrates the need that we – as an organization and as individual member societies – have to get a firm handle on our local resources, and verifies the outstanding results we can attain if we marshal those resources in a way that effectively lets public policymakers know who we are and what we do. In the end, it was the letters from member society CEOs and, more importantly, local fraternal leaders and representatives of the organizations that benefit from our fraternal activities, that won the day for us. Member involvement in real, tangible and meaningful fraternal activities and home-office understanding of the nature and value of those activities is the most important factor for our future political success.
There will likely be many more battles like this in the coming months and years. If properly prepared, we can accomplish similar results. Let’s learn from this initiative and – just for a minute, anyway – celebrate our victory. Hats off to the folks from Thrivent, Knights of Columbus, Independent Order of Foresters, and Woodmen of the World/Omaha who contributed to this successful endeavor.
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