As a statewide elected official, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is regularly asked to present awards during the Colorado Nonprofit Association conferences, but the tables were turned Tuesday when it was Williams up on stage accepting an award from CEO Renny Fagan.
He joined three state lawmakers and another state agency, the Colorado Department of Revenue, who also were honored with Impact Awards for their help passing a bill this year that allows Colorado taxpayers the opportunity to donate all or part of their tax refund to any nonprofit registered in Colorado.
“I think one of the things that Mike Hartman over at the Department of Revenue and I have a common is we’re looking for ways in government to say ‘yes’ as opposed to ways to say ‘no.’ I think both of us are very proud to be a part of this process,” Williams said.
This time, the secretary did not break down.
Also honored was Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver, and Reps. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, who sponsored Senate Bill 141 in the 2018 legislative session. SB 141 authorizes a new line on the tax form for 2020 called the “Donate to a Colorado Nonprofit Fund,” which allows Colorado taxpayers to donate part or all of their income-tax refund to any nonprofit registered in Colorado.
The effort was several years in the making.
“We’re all here celebrating a kind of a Super Bowl victory, but we had a couple of losing seasons in this deal,” Wilson said, of his and Court’s initial efforts. “A liberal lady and a conservative cowboy working together, what could go possibly go wrong with that deal?”
Colorado already allows income-tax donations to a limited number of groups, but the bill, which Hanson this year also championed, opens that up.
“As of today, 4,192 Colorado charities will be eligible for donations,” Williams said, adding the bill “has the possibility of helping to transform charitable giving in our state and to continue to provide funding for nonprofits that do so many great things.”
Chris Cash, the director of the Colorado Secretary of State’s charities program manager, accepted the award with Williams.
Hartman, the director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, got a laugh when he accepted the award on behalf of his team.
“As you can imagine, it’s not often that the Department of Revenue receives what I call a touchy-feely award. So we are greatly honored to be here today and receive this award,” he said, adding the credit goes to Fagan and his group and the lawmakers.
The association also recognized the work of the lobbying firm of Aponte & Busam, which has worked for the nonprofits for 15 years.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also spoke at the lunch. Hickelooper was a brewmeister who decided to first run for Denver mayor at the age of 50. He said he didn’t have a base but he had served on dozens of nonprofit boards and that became his springboard. He won his 2003 race in a landslide, and first was elected governor in 2010.
He talked about the impact of nonprofits on the city and state.
As for Williams’ weepy moment at the Colorado Nonprofit Association’s conference in March, the normally unflappable Williams became emotional when telling his two young daughters. They had speech deficiencies at an early age but overcome them with the help of a nonprofit group. One went on to become salutatorian of her high school.
“Folks,” Williams said, struggling to continue, “the work that you do makes a real difference in the lives of everyone.”