Federal Approprations Update
Congress has returned from its August recess and now faces the task of funding the federal government for FY16, which starts October 1.
Prior to recess in July, Congress had been proceeding with regular order for appropriations, with both the House and Senate considering each of the 12 federal spending bills in their respective committees. Some bills--such as the FY16 Interior Bill which contains NEA appropriations--made it to the full House or Senate floor for consideration (Interior bill action was suspended, though, due to heated debates surrounding the Confederate flag). However, as the end of the fiscal year approaches, it is more and more likely that a continuing resolution will have to be passed to keep the government funded beyond September 30 and avoid a shutdown.
A continuing resolution is an agreement by both the House and the Senate to temporarily fund federal agencies and programs at the previous year's levels until a spending bill is enacted. PAA is paying close attention to this process, and continues to advocate that Congress set appropriations for the following programs and agencies at these levels:
- National Endowment for the Arts: $146 million within the Dept. of the Interior
- Cultural Exchange: $110 million to the Office of Citizen Exchanges at the State Dept.
- Arts Education: $30 million for Arts in Education (AIE) at the Dept. of Education
FCC Issues New Rules For Wireless Microphones
At its Open Meeting on August 6, 2015, the FCC ruled on several proceedings that affect the current and future operations of wireless microphones used in the performing arts. Currently, there is no change to wireless microphone operations: users can still register their needs in the database, subject to the 30-day comment period. However, once the Office of Management and Budget approves the FCC's new rules, likely in late 2015, there will be a more distinct difference between the treatment of licensed and unlicensed wireless microphones.
The FCC's new rules state that entities regularly using 50 or more wireless devices are eligible to apply for a license. Entities using fewer than 50 wireless devices are not eligible to apply for a license. As of July 2016, unlicensed wireless microphones in the 600 MHz band will have to register their frequencies in the database and may have to pay a registration fee. This registration does not provide interference protection, and it does not reserve channels. Effective between July 2016 and April 2017, unlicensed wireless microphones operating on any frequency will no longer be able to reserve channels protected from White Space Devices. (more)
(Photo Credit: Paul Hudson, Flickr Creative Commons)
Visa Processing Delays and Updates
U.S. arts organizations that engage foreign guest artists should be aware of processing delays for regularly-filed petitions: many petitioners are experiencing a turnaround time of 6-8 weeks or more at the Vermont Service Center. Petitioners should plan accordingly and attempt to file as early as possible, or they should consider Premium Processing for their petitions.
In other news, petitioners should be aware that a new edition of the I-129 form to file for the O and P classifications was updated last month, and earlier in the year the I-907 form for Premium Processing Service was updated as well. Always download the latest forms from www.USCIS.gov when filing a petition to engage a foreign guest artist. Keep up with the latest news, tips, and templates at Artists from Abroad.
Department of Labor Proposes New Overtime Rules
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed new rules that would increase the number of employees qualifying for overtime compensation.
The proposed rules would require employers to pay time-and-a-half wages to salaried employees earning up to $50,440 (or $970/week) when they work more than 40 hours per week. This salary threshold is more than double the threshold in current law, which is $23,660 (or $455/week). Independent Sector submitted comments on behalf of the nonprofit sector regarding concerns over the costs of implementing the new rules, while also supporting the general impulse to offer a "living wage." (more)
(Photo Credit: Bernard Polet, Flickr Creative Commons)
NEA to Celebrate 50th Anniversary
September 29, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965, the legislation that created the National Endowment for the Arts. Through leadership and investment, the agency has supported the arts in every congressional district, providing the opportunity for all communities to access the arts, including those in urban, rural, and underserved areas.
You can take part in the NEA's festivities by sharing your story of how the arts have influenced, inspired, and made a difference in your life. Visit the NEA's "Tell Us Your Story" page for instructions on how to submit your story.