League of Women Voters of the Rivertowns

Update on Women’s March in DC
Since the inception of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, the League has monitored the developments and plans for the event on January 21. Over the past few weeks, organizers have obtained permits and security, disclosed additional information about the organizers and partner organizations, and shaped the grassroots demonstration as a diverse and inclusive event. For these reasons, the LWVUS Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday for the League to participate officially in the DC March. 
It was important for us to take the time to confirm that this peaceful protest is in line with the League’s principles. We know this event will bring together many organizations with a variety of priorities and messages for the incoming administration, not all of which we will agree with. But as women and defenders of our democracy, there is more that unites us than divides us.
This is an opportunity for the League to make our voice heard on our priorities. We march for voting rights. We march to reform money in politics. We march for health care. We march for the environment.  These are our core issues and we want to ensure they are front and center.
For League members who are planning to travel to Washington for the event, this means we will coordinate a meeting location in DC and look to march as one unit. Please bring any League signs and buttons you may have. LWVUS will be supplying additional League signage when we gather. DC Staff will work to provide more information in the coming days – including a specific meeting location and time. Please share this information with League members whom you know are planning to attend.
This decision also pertains to state and local Leagues interested in participating in sister marches. The board strongly recommends that any state or local League check their liability with the organizers of the local marches to make sure your League is covered by insurance.
When I think about our heritage, I am proud that the League will participate in this historic day, which will bring Americans together in the spirit of democracy. After all, the League was founded because women and men marched.
And this month, the League will march again. We are Making Democracy Work!
Chris Carson, LWVUS President
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.