Let’s talk politics. Even those associations without a political agenda would do well to follow the happenings in our nation’s capital and beyond. Elections, scandals, important legislation, all of the ongoing Washington dealings can the capitolhave major impacts on your association’s members and within your industry. Have you kept tabs on the latest with the health care reform laws? How does the income gap between rich and poor affect your nonprofit’s approach to fundraising?

As such, we’d like to touch on some major current events and their ramifications in the association and nonprofit world from time to time with some political quick links.

Economic Association Weighs in on Gender Pay Gap: Women have made tremendous strides in the workplace in recent decades, but one area remains a top concern for women’s interest groups: the wage gap. Women are still paid less than men on average overall, and many employers and experts blame not old school sexism as much as American family dynamics and the realities of biology: women are still more likely to miss significant amounts of work due to bearing children, which affects their overall income. But what can make a difference? The president of the American Economic Association has an idea:

In her presidential address at the AEA annual meeting, Claudia Goldin said the difference in pay between men and women could be reduced if employers allowed employees more flexibility in choosing the hours when they work.

‘The solution does not (necessarily) have to involve government intervention,” said Goldin, an economics professor at Harvard University. “It does not have to improve women’s bargaining skills and desire to compete. … The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might even vanish if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who worked long hours and who worked particular hours.’”

Brrrr – Natural Gas Associations Talk Energy Prices – If the extended winter this year proved anything, it’s that the issue of improving home heating costs has become a top priority for many in Washington. Pressure on the government to improve standards for natural gas furnaces have been particularly strong, as raising the standards for this type of heat could significantly reduce the cost burden on consumers—but two gas industry associations are arguing that the move isn’t as easy as it seems:

As The Kansas City Star reported, two associations that represent natural gas utility companies—the American Gas Association (AGA) and American Public Gas Association (APGA)—say that boosting minimum standards would require installing costly new furnace systems in homes. (The new 90 percent efficient furnaces cost between $600 and $800, including installation, according to the newspaper, but can generate a savings of $50 to $100 a year in fuel costs in addition to the inherent environmental benefits.)

The type of home can create additional installation challenges. ‘Switching from a noncondensing to condensing gas furnace often requires modifying the furnace ventilation at additional expense,’ the EIA post explained. ‘In some cases, the switch may require retrofitting or abandoning a gas-fired water heater because the existing exhaust flue would be poorly sized for the existing water heater and new furnace.’”

Food Labeling Laws Catching Grocery Industry Association Attention – With laws passing at the state level all the time with new restrictions on genetically modified organisms (GMO), the food and grocery industries have been fighting new restrictions. Perhaps in an effort to head off these types of restrictions at the pass, the largest food industry association is now among those calling for new federal regulations:

“But the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents such food and beverage leaders as ConAgra, PepsiCo and Kraft, isn’t exactly joining the anti-GMO movement. It’s advocating for an industry-friendly, law with a voluntary federal standard — a move that food activists see as a power grab by an industry that has tried to kill GMO labeling initiatives every step of the way.

The most powerful players in the food industry say they are simply trying to find a national solution for GMO labeling, rather than having to navigate a patchwork of dozens of state laws for every packaged food item on the grocery shelf. According to a discussion draft of GMA’s proposed bill obtained by POLITICO, labeling standards would not be mandatory and the industry would submit to more FDA oversight.”

What current events are affecting your association or nonprofit the most? Hit the comments and let us know!