Thursday, November 14, 2013

Endorsing Initiatives

A fellow PTA member is gathering signatures for Initiative 594 which would increase background checks on gun sales.  She has requested that I set out the signature sheet at our next general PTA meeting.  She said the PTA was in support of this initiative.  Although I might be personally in favor of this initiative, I'm reluctant to bring anything political into our meeting.  However, if it is done unobtrusively it might be ok to have it at the meeting? 

ANSWER:The state PTA has not discussed this initiative and hence has not taken a position. Just because the WSPTA added “Background checks on gun purchases” to our also supported issues list doesn’t mean that we support any initiative or proposal that comes along about background checks.  There are many nuances to a bill or initiative that may or may not align with the overall principles of the association.
For a local PTA you would want to be careful about this type of thing. First, you really would need to have endorsed the initiative at a general membership of their local unit PTA. Just because something like this is endorsed (if this had been, which it hasn’t) by the WSPTA doesn’t mean that a local unit would have to actively do so. I wouldn’t suggest that any PTA only go by the WSPTA position, they would want buy-in from their membership. It is important that you think about what would be best for your community. For a topic that is this polarizing you would want to do your due diligence in making sure their entire membership has an opportunity to weigh in before taking a position.
You would also want to be careful about this type of activity as it is clearly a lobbying activity which could have consequences for your PTA with regards to the IRS unless you are a 501(c)(4). It might require additional tax filings.

As a local unit president I would ask myself if I felt that this would further the efforts of my PTA and align with the mission. There is nothing wrong with deciding not to do this type of thing.

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