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The League Update

April 3, 2014

Dear Friend,

By now, we are all aware that the Supreme Court struck down aggregate contribution limits in McCutcheon v. FEC. It came as no surprise that the Roberts Court continued its systematic dismantling of the protections against corruption that limits on money in politics provide. Significantly, the decision embraces multiple aspects of the First Amendment, from freedom of speech to freedom of association in reaching its conclusion.

The temptation to stage protests and demand action to reverse this line of decisions is great. But in the cold light of day, there are no clear or easy answers. The law and the Constitution mean whatever the Supreme Court says they mean. The problem of money in politics has been with us since the Constitution was ratified and it will be with us so long as people with money see elected officials as a source of power. Just as the law protecting political rights, from speech to association to petitioning the government, is complicated and interwoven, so the solution to the problem of money in elections will be complex and never final.

Now more than ever, the thoughtful approach of the League of Women Voters is needed to help voters understand the issues at stake. Now more than ever, we need to fight to make every vote count and give every eligible voter free and fair access to the polls. In the end, the only reliable response to a flood of money in our elections is a flood of voters at the polls, each voter armed with the kind of reliable, unbiased information that the League provides.

Description: Elisabeth

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League Leaders:
To help keep your members informed, please consider forwarding this weekly message. Please note that this is an internal communication that provides both announcements and opportunities meant only for your members and League, as well as updates on important news and events. This message should not be posted in its entirety on League social media channels or websites. Instead consider sharing the external (e.g. public interest/action) pieces such as blog posts, letters to Congress and press statements.

In This Issue:

CONVENTION 2014

  • Explore the Dallas Food Scene at Convention 2014 (NEW)
  • Speaker Spotlight: Houston Mayor Annise Parker (NEW)

ADVOCACY

  • Supreme Court Sides with Big Money over Citizens’ Voices (NEW)
  • League Requests Stay Pending Appeal in Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission (NEW)
  • Voting Rights Act Fix Introduced in Congress! (Reminder)
  • Working to Protect Our Planet (Reminder)
  • Submit a Comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (Reminder)

EDUCATION FUND: ELECTIONS

  • CA Voting Rights Victory: Opportunities to Engage ACA Enrollees as Voters(NEW)

MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP

  • Spotlight Your League’s Volunteer Efforts:  Press Template (Reminder)
  • Thank Your Volunteers! (NEW)

OTHER

  • Agriculture Update (Reminder) 
  • White House Summit on Working Families (NEW)

Convention 2014

Explore the Dallas Food Scene at Convention 2014 (NEW)
Do you like fabulous food, good wine and great conversation? Who doesn’t?  Join us on June 8, 2014, 5:30 – 8:00 pm, to explore Dallas’s growing and vibrant neighborhood restaurants, with great local food, talented chefs and great atmosphere. We will be fanning out from the Omni Dallas in groups of ten to city neighborhoods, and we’ll feast on everything from seafood, Southwestern cuisine and BBQ (this is Texas after all), to locally sourced menus of all types. Take a look at the list of restaurants and sign up at Convention in Dallas to participate!

Speaker Spotlight:  Houston Mayor Annise Parker (NEW)
Since 2010, Annise Parker has been serving as the mayor of Houston and is one of only two women to hold the City’s highest elected office.  She has held positions of city council member, controller and now as the city's chief executive officer; she is responsible for all aspects of the general management of the City and enforcement of all laws and ordinances. Lauded as one of the top most effective mayors in the country, we look forward to hearing her share her experience about the state of governing at the city level on the Convention’s plenary panel discussion about state and local government. 

Don't forget, visit our Convention 2014 page to see what is planned and visit the Convention Forum at forum.lwv.org for the latest discussion!

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CLEARINGHOUSE

Time for Local and State League Program Planning!

Jump start your League program review and planning for spring annual meetings by visiting the League Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse provides scope and focus of a topic, research methodology, sources consulted, information about positions, and consensus questions. 

Note: the Clearinghouse accepts positions without studies, even as multi-position documents, if they are accompanied by a single submission form. Complete studies are preferred, and Leagues may add study documents at a later date.

Share your studies! Share our strength! Just a click away: http://clearinghouse.lwv.org

Advocacy

Supreme Court Sides with Big Money over Citizens’ Voices (NEW)
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The court ruled that aggregate campaign contribution limits are invalid and opened a loophole allowing political parties to be further corrupted by big-money contributions from special interests. In a press release, the League called the decision “irresponsible” saying the court “continues to dismantle the wall of protection against corruption.”

League Requests Stay Pending Appeal in Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission (NEW)
The League filed a motion to stay a decision of the U.S. District Court of Kansas pending an appeal in the case of Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The decision from the District Court allows the states of Arizona and Kansas to require documentary proof of citizenship when citizens register to vote using the federal mail application form. LWVUS is joined by the Leagues of Arizona and Kansas as interveners in this case.

Voting Rights Act Fix Introduced in Congress! (Reminder)
Representatives James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), Bobby Scott (D-VA), John Lewis (D-GA), and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have introduced common sense legislation that would repair and restore the Voting Rights Act. This bipartisan effort to fix the damage done by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder is necessary to restore and protect the rights of voters across the country. Please urge your elected officials to support this important legislation and encourage them to act swiftly to move toward final passage.  Read the LWVUS press statement on the new bill and tailor this press template to use with media in your state and community.

Working to Protect Our Planet (Reminder)
The LWVUS Climate Change Task Force (CCTF) encourages League members to put climate action on their League’s agenda.  Climate action can take many forms, ranging from one event to a longer-term initiative.  Earth Day celebrations, for example, provide a good opportunity to enlist support for climate solutions, such as the EPA’s proposed carbon pollution standard for new power plants.  Find more information and ideas for Earth Day 2014 -- April 22; and for an example of a sustained climate initiative, read about the LWV La Plata County’s climate-focused observer corps and community forum.  The CCTF would like to hear from more Leagues about how they have been working to protect our planet.  Please send your League’s climate action story to CCTF Chair Eleanor Revelle (er@revelle.net).

Submit a Comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (Reminder)
The EPA has extended the deadline for public comments for the proposed federal carbon pollution standard for every new power plant built in America. The new deadline is May 9, 2014. Submit a public comment to the EPA in support of the standard and your voice will be part of the official record.

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Education Fund: Elections

CA Voting Rights Victory: Opportunities to Engage ACA Enrollees as Voters (NEW)
The League of Women Voters of California and partners celebrated a major legal victory last week when the California health exchange, Covered California, agreed to fully comply with its designation as an NVRA voter registration agency. As a result, nearly 4 million Californians who have applied for health benefits will be retroactively mailed a voter registration card and the opportunity to register to vote will be integrated into future health insurance applications. Read more in the California League’s guest blog post. LWVUS has been working for some time to ensure voter registration is fully integrated into the federal health application being used in 30+ states. Meanwhile, Leagues in states with state-based health exchanges (including Hawaii, New Mexico, Washington and more) have also advocated for NVRA compliance and have done so in concert with LWVUS. If your state League is interested in working on this important yet complex federal-state issue, please contact Maggie Duncan (mduncan@lwv.org) first for assistance and guidance so your efforts complement the strategies of LWVUS and your fellow state League leaders.  

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Glad You Asked!

This section of the Leaders' Update is dedicated to providing the information that you want to know. If you have a question for this area, please submit it to kmcfarland@lwv.org.

I am in charge of my League’s annual meeting. Do you have any advice or tips?

Yes, there are several resources available in the members’ resources website.  These include:  A webinar on how to make annual meetings “productive and fun” and tip sheets on both the business of annual meetings and ways to make them member recruitment and engagement opportunities

There also is a discussion in the Forums about this topic now.  Good luck and be sure to share back what worked for your League as a resource for others!

To log in and access the Forums, visit “Getting started on the Forums.” 

Membership & leadership

Spotlight Your League’s Volunteer Efforts:  Press Template (Reminder)
April 6-12 is National Volunteer Week.  Share with the community some of the great work that your League members do on a regular basis by customizing this press template.

Thank Your Volunteers! (NEW)
Next week is National Volunteer Week – the perfect opportunity to thank all those who make your League a success!  A recent study by Volunteer Canada showed that 70% of volunteers would like to be thanked “in person on an ongoing, informal basis.”  How do you thank your volunteers?  Suggestions might include:  highlight volunteers and the impact of their work on your website or in your newsletter, intentionally make a follow-up thank you note or card a standard part of all of our work, and most importantly, let our volunteers know about the impact that their efforts make.  Looking for something special for National Volunteer Week?  Use this postcard template (which fits postcard paper such as Avery XX) to send a note of personal thanks. With personal notes becoming increasingly rare, this will stand out and show your League’s volunteers how special and important they are! 

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OTHER

Agriculture Update (Reminder)
All Agriculture Update materials including the update papers, Leaders Guide and online response form are posted on the Member Resources website and Leagues are encouraged to meet and submit consensus forms by the deadline of April 18, 2014.  Additional reference materials and guides provided by local Leagues can be found at the Agriculture Update Forum.  Contact Agriculture Update Chair Norman Turrill at LWVTurrill@mac.com if there are more questions.

White House Summit on Working Families (NEW)
Leading up to a June 2014 Summit on Working Families to focus on creating a 21st century workplace that works for all Americans, The White House, the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Center for American Progress (CAP) are holding meetings in select cities to hear from citizens about issues that impact their working lives. The issues include: Family and Medical Leave, Paycheck Fairness and Work-Family Balance. Leagues that are working on these issues or interested in doing so, can go to http://www.dol.gov/wb/workingfamilies/  for more information.

Donate to the League and support our work.

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