Tag Archives: legislative update

progress on federal issues

Progress on Our Federal Issues Continues

As noted in the May issue of the International Musician, our strength is multiplied by the fact that the AFM is a member of a number of industry and labor-related coalitions working together to help advocate our cause to a wide variety of people and institutions. As I noted in last month’s IM, going forward I want to keep you updated on the progress of the AFM’s most important issues circulating on Capitol Hill.



On Friday May 15, the House of Representatives passed HR 6800 the HEROES Act of 2020, the fourth piece of COVID-19 legislation designed to 1) make corrections to the CARES Act of 2020, 2) provide much-needed additional funding to state and local governments, 3) provide a second round of stimulus payments, 4) provide 100% COBRA premium payments protecting Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance with COBRA subsidies to maintain their coverage, and 5) provide additional funding for COVID-19 frontline workers, to name a few provisions. As relates to the AFM, the bill also contains vital pension reform language along with an additional $10 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. 

The AFM Legislative Office has heard from members and local officers who are navigating the challenging Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) process. These musicians seek assistance from us to advocate for updating state unemployment insurance (UI) programs that are not fully prepared to recognize W-2 and 1099 divergent income streams that would take into account differences between wage earning contracted employees and self-employed, independent contractors and musicians operating as sole proprietors for benefit purposes. With the deluge of millions of Americans seeking assistance, many of these state systems are overwhelmed and in dire need of federal assistance to update their processing equipment. The HEROES Act accomplishes many of these things.

We continue to work with the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees to include HR 3121, the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act of 2019, into the CARES Act. This would restore above-the-line qualified tax deductions lost in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2019.

We are working with the AFL-CIO Legislative Committee to help include language from HR 6514, the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act, that would expand COBRA coverage and provide a 100% payment to beneficiaries.

President Hair has signed the AFM onto an AFL-CIO letter that would protect a worker’s right to sue his employer for violations of COVID-related health and safety issues on the job. This could apply to any musician who is injured on the job where the employer can be proven negligent. Conservative lawmakers and the White House are insisting that this indemnification language be placed in the next CARES package. We oppose inclusion of this loophole for what could be some potentially reckless employers.

Finally, we are working to include additional financial relief specifically for the entertainment industry, which has lost more than $4 billion since the categorical, across-the-board shutdown of performances, concert halls, festivals, and television and film recording sessions earlier this year. We are also seeking inclusion of 501(c)(5) unions in the “Small Business” provision of the bill so that unions can also apply for COVID relief.


House Congressional Arts Caucus Chair Chellie Pingree

In an April 30 Zoom call with Representative Chellie Pingree (D-MN), co-chair of the House Arts Caucus, arts and entertainment unions outlined our legislative priorities, taking advantage of our firsthand relationship with one of the most influential members of Congress. In addition to a range of entertainment union affiliate concerns, AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal informed Congresswoman Pingree of the need for Congress to advocate a broad range of issues for entertainment unions and specifically AFM members—as outlined above—with the bulk of those issues related to making corrections for creative professionals in the next CARES Act.


The issue surrounding P1 and P2 visas remains on our blotter as we dodge the effects of recent presidential executive orders designed to close US borders and keep certain immigrant workers from entering the United States. Our work with the Performing Arts Visa Working Group is spearheaded for the AFM by Liana White, executive director of the Canadian Federation of Musicians-AFM, and George Fiddler in the AFM Immigration Office.

The AM-FM Act (Ask Musicians For Music)

HR 5219, the AM-FM Act, offered by Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is our lead copyright bill designed to provide a performance right to recording artists whose creative product is used on AM/FM radio without compensation. The bill requires broadcasters to get permission from artists before their music is played over terrestrial (over the air) radio stations. With deference to small broadcast stations whose budgets do not compete with larger stations, the bill contains a small broadcaster provision establishing smaller fees for smaller stations.

The AFM’s Coordinated Federal Response to COVID-19

As the scourge of the COVID-19 virus rips through the arts and entertainment community with devastating effects, AFM officers, the International Executive Board, and senior staff have coalesced daily, internally as well as with other AFL-CIO affiliate unions and music groups, to help guarantee that working professional musicians’ voices are heard clearly on Capitol Hill, the epicenter of COVID-19 federal policy and decision-making. As legislative work on the virus advances across the Capitol, it remains incumbent on this office to keep AFM members apprised of any new policies and coalition work in place.

FYI, at the direction of President Hair, the Washington office regularly engages the following organizations: AFL-CIO President’s Subcommittee on Pensions and Retirement Security, the AFL-CIO Legislative Committee-COVID-19 Working Group Taskforce, and the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees, which all interact almost daily with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s special coronavirus outreach offices.

The union has several principal goals. First, to effectively engage the federal government at the highest levels to ensure that working musicians are included in all policy decisions. Secondly, to look out for the health and safety of our members on and away from the worksite, preventing unscrupulous employers from taking unnecessary advantage of our hard-won agreements. Third, to provide meaningful guidance and financial resources whenever possible. Fourth, to the extent possible, help keep you on your employers’ payrolls. And last but not least, to help you analyze federal policy and provide the resources necessary to keep you engaged in advocacy so that your legislators will hear directly from you on the issues that most directly impact your lives.

On the first count, President Hair and Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal, with help from the AFM Legislative Office, have been engaged with the AFL-CIO Legislative Department as well as with the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees AEMI unions, to help outline specific needs of entertainment unions/professionals to be submitted to the Speaker of the House Representatives and to the US Senate as each chamber formulates specific policies needed to keep working artists whole. These challenges have seen the successful inclusion in the CARES Act of W2 wage earners, musicians working in the gig economy, music contractors, and part-time music/entertainment workers.

Secondly, the AFM has supported the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for artists in the workplace and for first responders by supporting AFL-CIO guidance for workers in other professions who risk their lives daily looking out for the infirm. The AFM has also initiated a system of “social distancing” among staff and officers encouraging all AFM locals to follow federal, state, and local guidelines that help prevent the spread of the disease. Though COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on our industry, our continued engagement with federal officials to help identify financial resources and encourage federal relief for distressed arts organizations and artists is partly our best weapon to help bring safety and some financial relief to our artists. Examples of our advocacy can be found in the document QR codes in the sidebar.

We invite you to visit our COVID-19 Resource Page along with the April 2020 International Musician, which both offer in-depth background information and can be accessed by members on our homepage at AFM.org. In the meantime, we will continue to work Capitol Hill and bring you the latest updates that impact your working life as an artist and creative professional.

Bipartisan Artist Tax Parity Act

President Hair Meets with AFM Legislative Champions in Washington

From March 2-4, AFM President Ray Hair made a trip to the nation’s capital to visit with principal sponsors/legislators who are responsible for introducing legislation specific to this union’s mission. The Bipartisan Artist Tax Parity Act (HR 3121) offered by Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), would help restore qualified performing artist’s “above the line” tax deductions lost with the passage of the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2019.

We met with Chu, the bill’s principal sponsor, in the Capitol Building and filled her in on our efforts to bring more co-sponsors onto the bill. While on the Hill for those two days, we also spoke with congressmen Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), as well as the staff for representatives George Holding and Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal to shore up their support for the Chu and Nadler legislation. 

Bipartisan Artist Tax Parity Act
AFM International President Ray Hair met with Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) in the Speaker’s Office suite inside the Capitol Building in early March to discuss the Bipartisan Artist Tax Parity Act, which would help restore qualified performing artists’ “above the line” tax deductions lost with the passage of the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2019.

Nadler’s bill, the Ask Musicians for Music (AM FM) Act (HR 5219), provides a performance right for music played on terrestrial AM/FM radio. We also spoke with the chairman about supporting cross-border non-resident immigration O and P visas that are now complicated by new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rules. These rules are scheduled to increase visa fees relating in part to AFM Canadian members who apply for temporary entry into the US for short-term employment purposes.

At that 8:30 a.m. breakfast meeting, Nadler reiterated his determination to see HR 5219 through this year and urged the AFM and its Music First Coalition partners to work closely with radio broadcasters to complete negotiations that would lead to swift passage. Our meeting with Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson to discuss border issues is being rescheduled due to an appointment conflict.

terrestrial radio

Keeping the AFM’s Promise of a Performance Right in Terrestrial Radio

The Ask Musicians For Music (AM-FM) Act of 2019, H.R. 5219, was introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY 10), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The bill has also been introduced in the United States Senate as S. 2932 by Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The bill, promoted by the AFM and the Music First Coalition, of which President Hair sits on the executive board, helps the AFM keep it’s promise to fight for a performance right in terrestrial radio.

It gives creators control of their own content by simply requiring broadcasters to obtain permission before transmitting content owned by another person. The concept of “giving one’s OK before their work can be played” is in place on all music listening platforms, except for terrestrial radio. It’s only fair that this principle be applied for radio as well. A summary of the bill can be found at www.Musicfirstcoalition.org.

H.R. 5219 and its companion bill S. 2932 came about through cooperative principles developed between the Music First Coalition and Chairman Nadler’s office. With the president’s enactment of the Music Modernization Act on October 11, 2018 (Public Law No: 115-264), the AFM and its coalition partners have come full circle in our efforts to look out for the rights of artists who previously were disenfranchised by broadcasters—broadcasters who performed creators’ music while at the same time earning billions of dollars over the years in advertising profits at the expense of artists whose music they used without compensation.

“This bipartisan bill guarantees that music creators have a protected property right. It requires broadcasters to get permission from copyright owners before they transmit recordings over the air,” says SoundExchange CEO Michael J. Huppe. “It sets the table for meaningful marketplace negotiations and ends the current market distortion in our laws that forces artists to subsidize the multi-billion-dollar FM radio broadcast industry. I applaud Senator Blackburn and Chairman Nadler for their continued commitment to ending this egregious inequity for American music creators.”

Both bills not only fight for fairness from large broadcasters, they also protect small, public, college, and other non-commercial stations.

Many artist/creators were concerned that with the extensive focus on passage of the Music Modernization Act, Congress would not have the will to turn around another significant piece of copyright legislation so quickly. It should be noted that this is another copyright legislative introduction by Music First, especially with a busy Judiciary Committee legislative calendar.

A grassroots campaign has already started, and we are asking AFM members to step up and participate. Passage of this legislation could prove to be lucrative for AFM members whose music is performed on this platform. Information is coming soon about how you can actively participate so that you can help ensure passage of this important piece of legislation.

the butch lewis act

House Ways and Means Committee Marks Up and Reports Out HR 397, The Butch Lewis Act

After the House Education and Labor Committee marked up and passed HR 397 on June 11, the House Committee on Ways and Means took the bill up on Wednesday July 10. By a vote of 25-17, Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and members of the House Ways and Means Committee ushered the Butch Lewis Act out of committee along party lines past all opposition, sending it to the House floor.

Before the July 10 committee mark-up, a labor rally was held on the east side of the Capitol building led by Neal. The AFM worked with Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) President and newly elected IEB Member Ed Malaga, Secretary-Treasurer Marta Bradley, and board member Douglas Rosenthal, as well as with Local 40-543 (Baltimore, MD) Secretary-Treasurer Mary Plaine, to field a group of local AFM members and Executive Board officers to attend both the rally and the mark-up at the behest of AFM President Ray Hair. Members of Local 802 (New York City) were also in attendance as well as Local 257 (Nashville, TN) President and IEB Member Dave Pomeroy, who also made a visit to Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) office.

“They earned their benefits” became the rallying call to members of the committee from Representative William James Pascrell (D-NJ), debunking the opposition’s theory that the failure of more than 120 multi-employer pension plans rests solely with alleged trustee mismanagement. Democrats in turn made it clear that because there was not enough punishment of Wall Street bankers who torpedoed the economy in 2008, serving no jail time, the rest of corporate America felt comfortable to continue fleecing the American people without redress.

A labor rally was held on the east side of the Capitol building on July 10 to urge legislators to support the Butch Lewis Act. AFM members and executive board officers from multiple locals attended both the rally and the legislation mark-up session at the behest of AFM President Ray Hair.

Representative John Lewis (D-GA) noted that Congress has a moral obligation to fix this problem, bearing in mind that it was corporate America’s desire, evidenced by the 2008 market dilemma, to continue to boost their own corporate profits and multi-million-dollar salaries.

During the five-hour mark-up for HR 397, Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA), a member of the committee and co-chair of the House Creative Rights Caucus, noted that the failure of these plans was not the fault of pensioners and plan participants. She shared stories of her constituent Gary Lasley, Secretary-Treasurer of AFM Local 47, supported by testimony from AFM RMA President Marc Sazer, also a member of AFM Local 47. Chu talked about how a failure by Congress to support all working men and women, particularly those in the film and Broadway sectors, during this crisis will leave Sazer, Lasley, and their AFM colleagues unable to take advantage of years of pension contributions/retirement security that they earned and so well deserve. Through her comments and commitment to our great union, Representative Chu distinguished herself as a true champion of all professional musicians.

The full House of Representatives is expected to take the Butch Lewis Act up for a final floor vote in the near future. As of this writing, an exact date has not been set. AFM members have been asked by AFM-EPF Trustees and by President Hair to contact their representatives in the coming weeks and encourage them to co-sponsor HR 397, the Butch Lewis Act, and vote for its passage.

As of this writing, a Senate companion bill has not been introduced.

grammys on the hill

2019 Grammys on the Hill Gathers Musicians and Arts Supporters

In addition to a full day of lobbying on Capitol Hill, the 2019 Grammys on the Hill Awards hosted more than 200 artist/creator advocates and more than 20 members of Congress who pledged their support for the work and fair treatment of artists.

grammys on the hill
Twenty members of Congress join Linda Perry of Local 6 (San Francisco, CA)
on stage at the Grammys on the Hill award dinner.

Grammy award-winning gospel singer Yolanda Adams received the Academy’s Creators Leadership Award for her extensive advocacy work. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stepped in for award winner Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and headlined the legislators. Grammys on the Hill award recipient Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) addressed those gathered during the dinner celebration. He spoke about his crucial work in Congress helping to pass the Music Modernization Act last year, as well as his ongoing work in the House Judiciary on behalf of performer and creator rights.

Also headlining the evening was Grammy Award winner Kristin Chenoweth who paid an endearing homage to Speaker Pelosi. Also on hand for the lobbying day were Mary Mitchell Campbell of Local 802 (New York City), Diane Blagman, Lzzy Hale, Joe Hottinger, Brandon Victor Dixon, and Manny Marroquin, to name a few.

grammys on the hill

As is tradition during the annual Grammys on the Hill Awards, members of Congress gathered on stage to clearly make their presence known and raise their voices in song. Singer-songwriter Linda Perry of Local 6 (San Francisco, CA) led this year’s congressional singalong. She encouraged the 20 members of Congress to gather on stage and take solos. 

Grammys on the Hill is one of several national springtime advocacy gatherings that the AFM is involved in and supports. Artists, many of whom are AFM members, lobby their members of Congress. Our monetary contribution for the special evening event is combined with those of many others to support the Grammy Museum. The museum hosts thousands of visitors each year, promoting music in the schools and encouraging all to join our efforts to bring music, one of America’s most cherished exports, to the rest of the world.

The Recording Academy, led by Neil Portnow, is a dynamic driving force for artist creators. The organization, along with the AFM, is an active member of the musicFIRST Coalition. Last year, the coalition lobbied for passage of the Music Modernization Act. It is currently fighting in Congress for a performance right in terrestrial radio. The AFM congratulates the Recording Academy for its diligent work on behalf of all creators.


Advocacy, Diversity, and Organizing in 2019

2019 Arts Advocacy Day

Once again the AFM joined Americans for the Arts as a national cosponsor of Arts Advocacy Day. This three-day event occurs annually in March. This year, more than 500 advocates from across the country converged on Washington, DC, to lobby elected representatives and senators on issues of importance to the national arts and entertainment community.

The AFM again coordinated our lobbying visits with the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees (DPE) Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry unions to present a united front on arts and entertainment labor issues that most affect our industries. With AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal serving as a DPE board member, the AFM National Legislative Office, joined by Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) President Ed Malaga and board member Douglas Rosenthal, made seven House visits and seven Senate visits.

Together they lobbied such important issues as pension reform, performance rights, restoration of tax deductions and tax revision, support for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as funding for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. Our lobbying team included members of SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Actors Equity, American Guild of Musical Artists, IBEW, and AFGE, to name a few. DPE represents 24 national unions that work together to affect critical public policy issues relating to the arts and entertainment sector.

Las Vegas LIVE

At a KCEP Power 88 Radio social media interview to promote the AFM’s Las Vegas LIVE Event (L to R) are: Director of Special Events Jonathan Meza; City of Las Vegas Senior Cultural Specialist Anastacio Del Real; AFM Local 369 (Las Vegas, NV) Secretary-Treasurer Keith Nelson; AFM Diversity Committee Chair and Local 65-699 (Houston, TX) President Lovie Smith-Wright; AFM Diversity, Legislative and Political Director Alfonso Pollard; KCEP Power 88 Account Executive Carol Frazier; and AFM Local 369 President Jack Gaughan.

Las Vegas LIVE is an AFM Diversity Committee project to showcase the diverse musical talent in Las Vegas, Nevada. The city is considered by many to be the live music capitol of the US. This event is a partnership between AFM Local 369 (Las Vegas, NV), the City of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the AFM Diversity Committee. The free, live public concert portion of the event is sponsored, in part, by the Music Performance Trust Fund.

In addition to being a demonstration of the wide range of instrumentalists who live and work in Las Vegas, the event will provide educational workshops for musicians. Workshops focus on career building tools such as contracts, performance rights, recording techniques, and more. The goal is to create a stronger arts community while promoting live music. Las Vegas LIVE will be an AFM prototype to eventually host similar organizing events in AFM locals across the country.

In partnership with the AFM, the City of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs is providing a recognized performance site and much needed technical assistance. Scheduled for June 22, the event will take place at the Fifth Street School (401 South 4th Street) on the Saturday immediately following the AFM Convention.

We encourage convention delegates, local musicians, and other attendees to visit our website, AFMLasVegasLive.com, for details on attending the event. There, Las Vegas instrumentalists can fill out a performance application. These paid performance slots for bands and individuals are limited to 50 musicians. (You must be a Las Vegas instrumentalist to participate.)

We are pleased to also be sponsored by KCEP Power 88 (see photo on following page), Smithsonian Museum of American History, SoundExchange, AFM Local 47’s Music Fund of Los Angeles, and the Recording Industry Association of America. Stay updated with the International Musician, our AFM Las Vegas LIVE website, the City of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs website, as well as the KCEP website for more information. We hope you will join us for this day of live music.


Happy 100th birthday to Local 161-710 Life Member Irving Andrusia, a stalwart AFM legislative-political advocate. Thanks, Irving!

federal government

A Look at Who Controls the Federal Government in 2019

On January 3, the 115th Session of the US House of Representatives gaveled out and immediately thereafter, the 116th Congress, fresh off caucus elections of new leadership, gaveled in.

New House leadership was elected. At the conclusion of the vote for Speaker of the House, which is now under Democratic control, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was installed with 220 votes to 192 votes cast for Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). A handful of other members received nominations and votes for the position of speaker. The aggregate total among other members was 18 votes, far too few to upset the calculus. The majority of votes were cast along party lines, divided between Pelosi and McCarthy. 

federal government

Immediately after the 2016 elections, the newly installed Donald Trump administration quickly moved to consolidate power by filling its cabinet with loyalists to whom he immediately gave a primary mandate: unwind Obama-era regulatory changes. The 2018 midterm elections saw historic gains and change within the House Democratic Party leading to a split in previously held single party rule.

The 116th House member count stands at 235 Democrats to 199 Republicans. All three branches of government—Executive, Legislative, and Judicial—saw change in 2018.  

After the January 3 House leadership vote, Republican Leader McCarthy (absent retired Republican Speaker Paul Ryan), ceremonially handed the Speaker’s gavel to Pelosi, underscoring the smooth transition of American government and power. The new Congress was set. With 2018 elections leaving the Senate in Republican control, no leadership changes took place in the upper chamber.

Who are the players?

federal government
In January, AFM Legislative and Political Director Alfonso Pollard attended an event at the AFL-CIO hosted by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The purpose of the event was to introduce new members of Congress and key Democratic Committee chairs of the newly minted 116th Congress. The event was well attended by union officers and staff.

Though no elections were held for president, the stability of the president’s administration has been challenged by high-level resignations and firings. In the Senate, the Republican majority remained in power, Democrats 47 (loss of 2) and Republicans and 53 (gain of 2).

The White House (The Administration): President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence

Senate Republican Majority Leadership: President Mike Pence and President Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Majority Whip John Thune

Senate Democratic Minority Leadership: Leader and Caucus Chair Chuck Schumer, Minority Whip Dick Durbin, Chief Deputy Whip Jeff Merkley, and Assistant Leader Patty Murray

US House of Representatives Democratic Majority Leadership: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Assistant Leader Ben Ray Luján, Assistant to the Majority Whip Cedric Richmond, Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries

US House of Representatives Republican Minority Leadership: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Chief Deputy Whip Drew Ferguson

US Supreme Court: Chief Justice John Roberts (C); Associate Justices Clarence Thomas (C), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (L), Stephen Breyer (L), Samuel Alito (C), Sonia Sotomayor (L), Elena Kagan (L), Neil Gorsuch (C), Brett Kavanaugh (C) (The 2018 “Roberts Court” began deliberations October 1, 2018)

Search for your US Representative and Senator by typing your address and clicking the state at: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members.


The US is now confronted with a divided government. At the outset of the 116th Congress, this will embolden each party to fight hard for the ideals they believe their American constituents sent them to Washington, DC, to protect. Major issues such as immigration reform, border security, healthcare, job security, efficient government, retirement security, and a stable social security system are at the top of the American public’s list. It is hoped by all that a cooperative resolution to the current government shutdown will be illustrative of how bi-partisan comity can and will positively affect policy issues. 


Mid-Term Elections Upend Executive and Legislative Branch Single Party Governance, Women Triumph!

On November 6, the American electorate voted to overturn single party governance within Congress. By the end of the evening, Republicans maintained control of the US Senate, picking up seats, while the Democrats took full control of the US House of Representatives, secured by a 39-seat pick up.

The balance of power in the House, as reported by Real Clear Politics (RCP) November 20, is 234 Democrats to 200 Republicans. RCP reports that the Senate remains in Republican control with a 52 to 47 margin of victory and one race still being decided. Of the 36 states and territories that held governor races, RCP results show 23 Democrats (a pickup of seven seats) to 27 Republicans (a loss of six seats).

The change in the House means that Democrats will control the speaker’s gavel and will take control of vital committee chairmanships once Democratic leadership is voted in. AFL-CIO leadership, led by the AFL-CIO Political Department, tracked the progress of elections in all 50 state legislatures as well.

Women, People of Color, LGBT, and Immigrant Candidates
Make History

For those seeking parity, the 2018 election offered hope for a government that reflects the society it serves. Groundbreaking firsts were abundant. During this cycle, 185 women Democrats and 52 Republican women ran for Congress. At least 125 women were elected. An analysis by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University reported that 35 first-time women members were elected to the House of Representatives, while 13 women were elected to the Senate. This includes the youngest person ever elected to US Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), 29, as well as two Muslim women, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) of Somali descent.

In addition, two Native American Representatives were elected: Sharice Davids (D-KS) of the Ho-Chunk Nation who identifies as a lesbian and Deb Haaland (D-NM) of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Jahana Hayes (D-CT) are the first black women from their states elected to Congress. In the Senate, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are the first women senators from their states.

Election Statistics

AFL-CIO Director of Political/Electoral & Issue Mobilization Julie Greene gave a November 7 report on the outcome of the election, minus a few races that were still being counted.

Governor Races: Seven Democratic gains: Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin. Republicans held on in Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Oklahoma. All Democratic incumbents won.

Senate Races: Net two Democratic losses: four losses—Donnelly (IN), McCaskill (MO), Heitkamp (ND), and Nelson (FL), plus two gains—Rosen (NV) and Sinema (AZ).

House Races: 39 net Democratic gains thus far (42 gains and three losses). Five Congressional districts (CDs) remain outstanding. Overall, Democrats did best in the well-educated suburban districts, with some gains in blue-collar areas. They have not rebounded to pre-2016 levels, but did sweep the suburbs.

We unexpectedly picked up SC-1, the wealthy, well-educated suburbs where a Trump Republican defeated a moderate incumbent in the primary. The Republican gerrymander in Texas almost broke. We gained two CDs, and came close to gaining six more. In the one remaining race (GA-7) Republicans lead.

Gains: AZ-2, CA-10, CA-25, CA-39, CA-45, CA-48, CA-49, CO-6, FL-26, FL-27, GA-6, IL-6, IL-14, IA-1, IA-3, KS-3, ME-2, MI-8, MI-11, MN-2, MN-3, NJ-2, NJ-3, NJ-7, NJ-11, NM-2, NY-11, NY-19, NY-22, OK-5, PA-5, PA-6, PA-7, PA-17, SC-1, TX-7, TX-32, UT-4, VA-2, VA-7, VA-10, WA-8

Losses: MN-1, MN-8, PA-14 (All vulnerable Democratic incumbents won.)

State Legislation

  • Chambers gained: NH House, NH Senate, ME Senate, MN House, NY Senate, CO Senate
  • Super majorities gained: OR House, OR Senate
  • Republican Supermajorities broken: NC House, NC Senate, MI Senate
  • Trifectas gained: ME, NY, CO, NV, IL, NM
  • Republican trifectas broken: WI, NH, KS

What Results Mean for Musicians

For the three major policy issues on Capitol Hill that impact our lives and work as musicians (pension reform, arts policy, and copyright/intellectual property), bipartisan House and Senate membership losses mark strategic changes as the House falls under Democratic control in January and the Senate remains under Republican control.

Pension Reform: At the end of the 2018 “lame duck” session, the Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multi-Employer Pension Plans loses retiring co-chair Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), as well as Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). On the House side, all members are returning.

Congressional Arts Caucus: Supports National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)—15 Democratic and Republican losses.

Senate Cultural Caucus: Supports NEA, NEH, and CPB—one loss, Hatch (retiring).

House Judiciary Committee: Performance rights legislation, Music Modernization Act (MMA) victory—11 members lost, including Chair Robert Goodlatte (R-VA).

Senate Judiciary Committee: MMA and future performance rights legislation loses Hatch and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

As always, the AFM’s work will continue, and in some instances, communications will intensify in order to meet the challenge of reaching new members. We look forward to your ongoing help in the new year.

music modernization act

Creators Win Big as Music Modernization Act Is Signed Into Law

The AFM and all music creators marked a big win last month as President Trump signed the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA) into law after it was passed and reconciled by US House and Senate. As noted in the International Musician last month, the US Senate made amendments to and passed the MMA by voice vote under “unanimous consent.” On September 25, after Senate consideration, the bill was returned to the House of Representatives to resolve differences. The House agreed to the Senate Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute without objection. Most importantly, throughout the entire legislative process, out of 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the US Senate, not a single no vote was cast.

The bill was renamed the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act in honor of the US Senate and House of Representatives Judiciary Committee members who ushered the bill through Congress to completion under a procedural passage process known as “Suspension of the Rules,” with unanimous voice votes coming from both chambers. Hatch (R-UT) is himself a recognized composer. For House Judiciary Chair Goodlatte (R-VA) this was one of his final crowning copyright reform-legislative achievements prior to retirement from Congress and as chair.

music modernization act
Iconic gospel singer CeCe Winans celebrates at a gathering following the passage of the Music Modernization Act.

This success is a result of a three-year advocacy effort, drafting, lobbying, and shepherding the bill through the legislative process with the help of Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and other members of Congress; the MusicFIRST Coalition, which includes the AFM; major artists; and rank-and-file musicians. Together we convinced Congress that the music community could indeed surmount significant yet effective copyright-legislative reform plateaus by working together. As a result of this highly unusual legislative victory, the bill was signed into law by President Trump October 11, becoming Public Law No: 115-264. The AFM owes particular thanks to its IEB members: International Vice President and Local 99 (Portland, OR) President Bruce Fife, Local 257 (Nashville, TN) President Dave Pomeroy, and Local 802 (New York City) President Tino Gagliardi for their focused work on critical members of Congress and on the needs of AFM members.

The MMA contains three titles: “The Musical Works Modernization Act” establishes a new collective management organization (CMO) to manage streaming royalties for musical recordings. “The CLASSICS (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Protection and Access) Act” creates a performance right for pre-1972 artists whose music is performed on digital and satellite radio platforms. “The AMP (Allocation for Music Producers) Act” increases royalty payments to producers and sound recording engineers receiving direct payments from SoundExchange when recordings are used on satellite radio and online radio services. A congressional overview by Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) indicates that the bill reforms music licensing in four areas:

1) Section 115 Reform ends the bulk Notice of Intention process.

2) The “Willing Buyer/Willing Seller Standard” under Section 115 now requires the court to consider free market conditions when determining rates.

3) The “Wheel Approach” allows ASCAP and BMI, along with music licensees, to go before any judge in the Southern District of New York on a rotating basis for purpose of rate setting disputes.

4) Section 114 (i) Repeal now allows PRO’s and songwriters the ability to present evidence about other facets of the music ecosystem to judges for their consideration, allowing songwriters to obtain fairer rates for the public performance of their musical works.

music modernization act
AFM Legislative-Political Director Alfonso Pollard (right) with singer songwriter and ASCAP Chair/ President Paul Williams of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) at a victory party celebrating passage of the Music Modernization Act.

These major changes to music licensing and copyright law bring legislation in line with the way the modern music business operates.

A well-deserved October 10 victory celebration of this momentous Congressional win was attended by a broad range of advocates, partners, artists, and songwriters at the Winery in Washington, DC. The event was sponsored by the lobbying collective that included the AFM, SoundExchange, the Recording Association of America, the Recording Academy, A2IM, and 30 other music industry advocates.

For all artist creators, congratulations! The bill is now recognized as the “law of the land.”