FEBRUARY 12, 2015
Saturday marks the 95th anniversary of the founding of the League of Women Voters. When Carrie Chapman Catt called for a League of Women Voters to “Finish the Fight,” she was talking about more than just the finishing the fight for women’s suffrage. The League was founded in another gilded age when progressive activists were working to prevail over political machines and the influence of money in politics. One constant refrain throughout League history has been the danger posed by big-moneyed special interests to our democracy.
Yesterday, I had the chance to stand up for the right of voters to demand that their elected officials represent their interests rather than the interests of wealthy donors. The Federal Election Commission held a rare public hearing on issues of money in politics. In addition to hearing from members of the public, the FEC heard from several panels of speakers. Among all the lawyers and academics who addressed the Commission, I was one of a very few voices representing the interests of the voting public. But as the president of a grassroots organization with members, supporters and activists from every state in union, I was hardly alone. In an unusually strong outpouring, tens of thousands of comments were submitted to the FEC in advance of this hearing. As one commissioner noted at the hearing, a large percentage of those comments were from the League of Women Voters.
For 95 years, the League has been Making Democracy Work® for voters not special interests. This is truly a fight that is never finished. We often speak of the opening of the floodgates and waves of big money. One speaker reminded the FEC that Senator Bill Bradley referred to special interest money as ‘ants in the kitchen,’ something that you must constantly battle and can never permanently get rid of. The FEC has an opportunity to promulgate clear and meaningful rules requiring disclosure of donors and requiring independent expenditures to be truly independent. The chances that the commissioners will do so may be slim, but the chances are that much greater because the League of Women Voters is taking a strong and vocal stand to protect our democracy from the billionaires and secret organizations that, like ants in the kitchen, swarm over our elections and feed off our democracy.
Happy 95th anniversary to all of you who work so hard and care so much about our country. To Carrie Catt, a League of Women Voters was the most natural, the most patriotic memorial to the courageous women and men who fought so hard for women’s suffrage. We are that League, we are that living memorial and we have much to be proud of.
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:
EDUCATION FUND - ELECTIONS
- Georgia Legislature Once Again Attempts to Shorten Early Voting — LWVGA Springs into Action (NEW)
- Missouri Legislators Once Again Consider Photo ID (NEW)
EDUCATION FUND - STRUCTURES OF DEMOCRACY
- Timeline for Money in Politics Review and Update and Constitutional Amendment Study (REMINDER)
MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP
- Database Challenge Winners Announced (NEW)
- LWV is 95 Years Strong—Templates Available (REMINDER)
- For the Nominating Committee: Finding and Engaging New Leaders (NEW)
- Take Action: Tell President Obama to Veto the Keystone XL Pipeline (NEW)
- League Testifies at Federal Election Commission Hearing (NEW)
- League Files Amicus Brief in Frank v. Walker (NEW)
- 2015 LWVUS Legislative Priorities (REMINDER)
- Clearinghouse: State and Local Program Planning? Here’s the Plan (REMINDER)
EDUCATION FUND - ELECTIONS
Georgia Legislature Once Again Attempts to Shorten Early Voting — LWVGA Springs into Action (NEW)
The League of Women Voters of Georgia has vowed to fight legislation that would significantly reduce early voting as it did a similar bill in last year’s session.
Missouri Legislators Once Again Consider Photo ID (NEW)
The decade-long effort to require photo IDs in Missouri voting booths is once again under way in the General Assembly. LWVMO is working in coalition to halt legislation.
EDUCATION FUND - STRUCTURES OF DEMOCRACY
Timeline for Money in Politics Review and Update and Constitutional Amendment Study (REMINDER)
At the January Board meeting, the LWVUS Board approved an overall timeline for the Money in Politics Review and Update and the Constitutional Amendment Study. All consensus reports from local and state Leagues will be due on February 1, 2016. Be sure to check the Money and Politics Review page and the Constitutional Amendment Study page for regularly updated information and materials.
MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP
Database Challenge Winners Announced (NEW)
Thank you for all your efforts to keep the member database as up-to-date as possible. We offered several prizes to Leagues who met certain criteria by January 31. In the first “challenge,” we asked Leagues to update ALL expiration dates on their member records in the national database. In total, 385 Leagues were eligible to win the prize of a $40 gift card. Thank you to every League who updated and congratulations to the winners of the first roster challenge: LWV of Arlington (MA), LWV of Lewisburg (PA), and LWV of Moscow (ID).
LWV is 95 Years Strong—Templates Available (REMINDER)
February 14, 2015 marks the League’s 95th anniversary! Learn more about our influence over the decades in our recent blog post: 10 Ways the League of Women Voters has Helped Improve Our Country. Throughout the year, LWVUS will be creating resources and materials for Leagues to help mark this milestone. To get started, use this template press statement with your local papers to help mark our anniversary and use our sample social media content to share our history and our continued efforts Making Democracy Work®. Use these turn-key messages to activate and excite your community and to promote your upcoming work. Watch the League Update for more tools.
For the Nominating Committee: Finding and Engaging New Leaders (NEW)
As annual meeting time approaches, now is the time to start thinking intentionally about your League’s leadership needs and how to best develop and/or find the right leaders to successfully fulfill our mission. There are lots of great resources to help your League navigate this critical process. The Little Green Book is a handbook that addresses all of the various aspects of a League Nominating Committee, including finding leaders, FAQs, job descriptions, succession planning, and more. It also includes great templates that can be customized for use by your League. You also can find great tips and ways for your Board to engage with them more fully in the March 2014 MLD Monthly Guidance. This is one of the monthly training tip sheets provided through the Membership and Leadership Development program (MLD) and supported by the Fund for Local League Growth.
Take Action: Tell President Obama to Veto the Keystone XL Pipeline (NEW)
The U.S. House of Representatives voted for final passage of legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The bill now moves to President Obama, who has pledged to veto this legislation. Join our call to action and tell President Obama to veto the Keystone XL pipeline!
League Testifies at Federal Election Commission Hearing (NEW)
President MacNamara offered testimony at a hearing held by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) this week. The hearing follows a comment period where thousands of citizens expressed their concern over the need for stricter disclosure rules and to strengthen regulations on coordination between candidates and secret, dark money groups. President MacNamara called on the agency to update regulations on campaign finance laws to provide full disclosure in light of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions Citizens United and McCutcheon v. FEC.
League Files Amicus Brief in Frank v. Walker (NEW)
The LWVUS and the Texas and Wisconsin Leagues have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether Wisconsin’s strict voter photo ID law violates the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. In the amicus brief in Frank v. Walker, the League also asks the Court to hold the case so it can be considered with case challenging the voter ID law from Texas, which is pending in the Circuit Court of Appeals. By considering both cases together, the Court will have an extensive record and the full range of issues that need to be addressed in what will be a precedent-setting case. You can also read more about League advocacy in the courts on our blog.
2015 LWVUS Legislative Priorities (REMINDER)
The Board adopted the following issues as LWVUS legislative priorities for 2015:
- First Tier: Voting Rights and Election Administration; Money in Politics
- Second Tier: Climate and Environmental Protection; Immigration; Health Care, including Reproductive Choice
Clearinghouse: State and Local Program Planning? Here’s the Plan (REMINDER)
With the start of the New Year, many Leagues often focus attention on state and local program planning. Visit the League Clearinghouse, a great resource for program planning, which features League studies in more than 50 subject areas that provide 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. The description section could have "Resulting Position:" and the position statement or a link to the position. 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
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