Federal - HR 781

Free Speech Fairness Act restores 1st Amendment speech protections for nonprofits

Introduced

February 1, 2017

Description

This legislation would allow nonprofit organizations including churches to make political comments, provided they do not spend more than a minimal amount of money on such advocacy.

Our Position

Support

Commentary

Senator Lankford, Whip Scalise and Rep. Hice introduced the Free Speech Fairness Act (S.264 and H.R.781) to address the Johnson amendment in the Tax Code. Introduced by then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson in 1954, the Johnson amendment has effectively censored all nonprofit organizations and their leaders with the threat of an IRS investigation, fines or loss of tax-exempt status if they choose to engage in political speech.  The bill would ensure that all 501(c)(3) organizations, including nonprofits, charities and houses of worship are legally able to make comments about a political issue within the scope of their normal activities. The bill also requires that any expenditure related to these activities are de minimis — that is, only minimal and not outside the usual expenses of the organization — to ensure that the organization’s primary function remains charitable or religious in nature. 

Original Sponsor 1

Co-Sponsors 63

Latest Actions See More/Less

  • May 17, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 1

    Latta, (R-Ohio)
  • May 16, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 1

    Stivers, (R-Ohio)
  • Oct. 23, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 4

    Goodlatte, (R-Va.)Rooney, F. (R-Fla.)
    Jenkins, E. (R-W.Va.)Wittman, (R-Va.)
  • June 6, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 1

    Webster, (R-Fla.)
  • April 25, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 3

    Graves, T. (R-Ga.)Hultgren, (R-Ill.)Marshall, (R-Kan.)
  • March 23, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 2

    Arrington, (R-Texas)Babin, (R-Texas)
  • March 7, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 1

    Dunn, (R-Fla.)
  • March 2, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 1

    Brat, (R-Va.)
  • Feb. 27, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 2

    Messer, (R-Ind.)Shimkus, (R-Ill.)
  • Feb. 24, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 6

    Barr, (R-Ky.)Hudson, (R-N.C.)Wilson, J. (R-S.C.)
    DesJarlais, (R-Tenn.)LaMalfa, (R-Calif.)Yoho, (R-Fla.)
  • Feb. 16, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 1

    Hartzler, (R-Mo.)
  • Feb. 14, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 26

    Abraham, (R-La.)Griffith, (R-Va.)Meadows, (R-N.C.)
    Aderholt, R. (R-Ala.)Grothman, (R-Wis.)Pearce, (R-N.M.)
    Allen, (R-Ga.)Harris, A. (R-Md.)Rothfus, (R-Pa.)
    Budd, (R-N.C.)Hensarling, (R-Texas)Rouzer, (R-N.C.)
    Cole, (R-Okla.)Jordan, (R-Ohio)Scott, A. (R-Ga.)
    Collins, D. (R-Ga.)King, S. (R-Iowa)Walberg, (R-Mich.)
    Cramer, (R-N.D.)Labrador, (R-Idaho)Weber, (R-Texas)
    Flores, (R-Texas)Loudermilk, (R-Ga.)Westerman, (R-Ark.)
    Gohmert, (R-Texas)Luetkemeyer, (R-Mo.)
  • Feb. 7, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 2

    Farenthold, (R-Texas)Smith, J. (R-Mo.)
  • Feb. 6, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 11

    Byrne, (R-Ala.)Johnson, (R-La.)Pittenger, (R-N.C.)
    Banks, (R-Ind.)Massie, (R-Ky.)Renacci, (R-Ohio)
    Duncan, Jeff (R-S.C.)Murphy, T. (R-Pa.)Rogers, Mike D. (R-Ala.)
    Gaetz, (R-Fla.)Palmer, (R-Ala.)
  • Feb. 1, 2017 — Original cosponsor(s): 1

    Hice, (R-Ga.)
  • Feb. 1, 2017 — Companion measure, S 264, introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).

  • Feb. 1, 2017 — Read twice and referred to: House Ways and Means.Congressional Record p. H875

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