League of Women Voters of the Rivertowns

Let’s Work Together to Make Democracy Work!
Congratulations to all who participated in Saturday’s Women’s March. The League of Women Voters of New York State had a fantastic turnout from our members. Local League members marched in Washington DC, New York City, Albany, Seneca Falls, Sag Harbor, Glens Falls, Hudson, Utica, Rochester, and Syracuse.
We have been overwhelmed listening to the experiences of our members throughout the state. Members traveled long distances from the farthest corners of the state down to NYC and even as far as Washington. They met members of other local Leagues and in some cases other state Leagues!
We are so proud of all of you are your commitment to ensuring a fair democracy for all. Now more than ever we must maintain this momentum! Encourage your friends and family to get involved and check our National site for tips on how to do more at the national level.
Be sure to follow us on twitter @LWVNYS  and like us on Facebook for real time information on what is going on in our state legislature. We post about active legislation and encourage our members to contact their representative when bills are on the move. Follow The Capitol Beat blog  for weekly entries on the legislative session and a full description of our weekly legislative actions.
Thank you again to everyone who participated in the march. None of this would have been possible without you!
League of Women Voters
1730 M Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-429-1965

 

We have officially kicked off the 2017 Legislative Session!
Since the 2016 election, we have welcomed dozens of new members to the League. Many of these new members have expressed interest in the League’s involvement with policy at the state level. As our long time members know, the New York State League lobbies and advocates for many state issues. Those of you who are new to the League should take a look at our Impact of Issues document. Our Impact on Issues contains all of our positions, how we came to those positions, and the actions we have taken since those positions were adopted.
The state League lobbies and advocates on many different issues – everything from education to the environment. Some of our biggest issue areas include election law, government reform, and ethics, health care, transportation, judicial issues, women’s issues including pay equity and reproductive choice environmental issues pertaining to clean air, water, and energy, and K through 12 education.  We are very lucky to have some amazing Issues Specialists that help the League stay on target on these issues.
The League works with several different issue based coalitions that help us to multitask during the legislative session. There is certainly never a dull moment at the Capitol and some days we find ourselves starting the morning with a press conference on ethics, attending a committee meeting on the environment in the afternoon, and later meeting with members to lobby them on education. Every week we post a blog called The Capitol Beat. The blog is more than just an overview of our week – it includes photos, insider information, and some snark and wit courtesy of our very own Barbara Bartoletti.
If you’re on twitter be sure to follow us @LWVNYS and like us on Facebook! We post pictures, articles, and advocacy action alerts daily. Our twitter account is the best way to stay up to date on what we are doing daily at the Capitol.
Finally to our newest endeavor – our NEW Advocacy Google Groups!! Francine Rodgers of our Saratoga League had an amazing idea to create issues-based Google Groups where League members interested in similar advocacy areas could talk to each other via email and hold monthly conference calls. The groups will be headed by the state office but members of the groups can share their ideas, articles, statewide bills of interest, and whatever else they feel is appropriate. The conference calls will be an opportunity to share ideas and to hear what we are doing at the state level. The most exciting part of these groups is it will be an excellent opportunity for the League to use its membership to lobby on pertinent legislation. We will send out action alerts on specific bills in real time so that those interested in calling their legislators can do so exactly when the time is right.
We are very excited about this new project. For now, we will be kicking off with 2 groups – the first is a General Advocacy Group that will be headed by myself and Barbara.  We will use this group to keep you all up to date on the general happenings at the Capital (but be sure to subscribe to our blog and follow us on twitter too!) The second kick-off group will focus on Education issues. This group will be headed by our Education Finance Specialist, Marian Bott. Education is always a major advocacy area of the League and we spend a lot of our time fighting to keep bad education policy from being passed at the state level.
If you are interested in either of these groups please email me at Jennifer@lwvny.org. I will add you to whichever group you would like to join – feel free to sign up for both! Once we get these two groups up and running we will be setting up other groups. We are thinking of setting up groups focused on Environmental Issues, Women’s Issues, and Health Care. If you have an interest in joining any of those groups please let me know and I will add you to the list.
As a reminder: our Vice President of Voter Service, Judie Gorenstein also heads a Voter Service Google Group: lwvnyvoterservices@googlegroups.com If you are interested in being included in that group email Judie at: judiel728@aol.com
Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I look forward to working with you all in 2017!
Best wishes,
Jennifer
Jennifer Wilson
Program and Policy Director
The League of Women Voters of New York State
62 Grand Street
Albany NY 12207

We are hearing that Leagues nationwide are seeing a spike in interest from community members who want to “do something.”

There is much more each and every one of us can accomplish in addition to becoming a member.

Here are 10 Ways You Can Help Defend Democracy

1. Sign the League of Women Voter’s Petition

“I stand with the League to ensure that elections are always free, fair and accessible. I will work with the League to stop voter suppression tactics that threaten our democracy and the right to vote.”

2. Become an e-Activist

Receive updates from the League and hold your elected officials accountable. Take action on the League’s key voting rights and other priorities.

3. Volunteer Your Time

We are working to make a difference and actively engaging people in more than 700 communities. Sign up to volunteer!

4. Donate to our Defend Democracy Fund

Your support makes it possible for LWV to take a stand in statehouses and courtrooms across the country.

5. Spread the Word

Stay engaged every day, and leverage your social media followers to get involved too!  Follow the League on Twitter and Facebook to find out how to make an impact.

6. Attend a Community Meeting

Learn about local issues and hear from elected officials. You can connect and organize with people already active in your community. Check your local government’s website or contact your local League.

7. Register to Vote, and help others Register

Make sure your family and neighbors are up to date on their registration. The League works year-round at schools and community events to prepare eligible voters. Check out VOTE411.org for more information.

8. Contact your Representatives

Elected officials work for the people and need to hear from concerned citizens like you.

9. Run for Office

You can directly contribute to the direction of local politics in your own back yard. From school board to the state house, there are many opportunities to run for office and make a difference.

10. Write a Letter to the Editor

Newspapers print concerns from readers and love to hear about local concerns. Tailor the issue for your community and support local newspapers when possible.

On December 10th, the LWVR met to come to a consensus on updates to NYS legislative procedures.

Here is some helpful background information to familiarize you with the questions that were considered.

The Rivertowns League reached consensus on the following items:

Term Lengths for State Legislators

The consensus was for staggered 2-4-4 terms for both Assembly Members and Senators. A system with legislators who serve one two-year term and two four-year terms every ten years is considered a 2-4-4 term system.

Legislative Leadership and Committee Chairs

There was a consensus for restrictions on leadership and committee chair positions.  As it can take time to develop expertise, 8-10 years seemed like a reasonable limit for a committee chair and there would be allowances to assume other titles.  Entrenched leadership can produce corruption and stagnation and chill the development of new talent to move up the ranks.  There was agreement that no limit should be imposed on the number of positions allowed in each chamber.

Allowances for Leadership Positions, or “LULUs”

A metric should be developed to define which committees deserve stipends as some committees accomplish meaningful work while others appear to exist to “make work”.

Outside Income

There was a consensus that no limit should be imposed on outside income but all income (including campaign contributions) should be publicly traceable and enforced by an independent ethics board.  Legislators should recuse themselves if a conflict presents itself. All compensation should weigh in the cost of living in different areas of the state.

We are delighted to announce that we are sending two outstanding students this year to the popular Students Inside Albany program. They were chosen from several applicants that we received. We are confident that they will have a great experience in May.

Eric Schmid, a Junior at Ossining High School, is an Eagle Scout, has worked at the Ossining Public Library, and volunteered at a soup kitchen and Midnight Run.

“While learning about the local, federal, and world governmental organizations, I attended a school board meeting. It gave me a new found appreciation of the board members for heir hard work and dedication to our community.”

Katelin Penner, a Junior at Hastings High School, has extensive volunteer experience; she has tutored 6th-grade geography student and was the student voluntee mentor for the Special Education Department. At school, she sings in the chorus and Madrigal Choir, and is a member of the Varsity Academic challenge Team. She was a counselor at Riverarts Day Camp.

“I feel that if I were selected, this experience would help me acquire the knowledge necessary to prepare me to vote and promote action in the 2018 Midterm Elections.”

Voters in New York State will decide this November whether to have a constitutional convention; this occurs every twenty years as mandated by the New York State constitution. As a public service to the community, the Rivertowns League of Women Voters is hosting an informational forum which will cover the historical background of this process, the pros and cons of a convention, how the constitution can be changed, determining procedures for the convention, and policy areas for possible change.

 

Speaking to these issues is a distinguished panel of legal experts: John Nonna, Nicholas Robinson, and Jay C. Carlisle II. Messrs. Nonna and Robinson are members of the New York State Bar Association Special Committee on the New York State Constitution, and Messrs. Robinson and Carlisle are highly esteemed faculty at the Elizabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.

 

 

The forum will be on Saturday, March 25 at 10:30 a.m. at the Greenburgh Public Library Multipurpose Room, 300 Tarrytown Road, Elmsford, New York. This event is free and open to the public and all are welcome. A light breakfast will be served.

Please RSVP to info@lwv-rivertowns.org.