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League of Women Voters Leaders' Update

December 5, 2013

In This Issue:

ADVOCACY

  • LWVUS Legislative Priorities (NEW)
  • League Speaks Out on New IRS Proposal for Tax Exempt Groups (NEW)
  • Tell the EPA you support regulations on Carbon Pollution (Reminder)

MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP

  • Webinar Opportunity:  “Interning with the League of Women Voters” (NEW)
  • Success:  #GivingTuesday Embraced by Many Leagues (NEW)
  • It’s Roster Updating Time! (Reminder)

OTHER

  • Program Planning Response Form Online (NEW)
  • Make a Donation from your IRA in 2013 (Reminder)

Convention Registration is Now Open!

Individual delegates can now register for Convention 2014, which will be held in Dallas on June 6-10. The fee is $335 per person. Online registration will remain open until May 31. (Note that a $50 late fee will be assessed on all registrations made after May 23.) Please visit the Convention area of the website for additional information about hotel reservations, the schedule-at-a-glance, and what to see and do in Dallas. We look forward to seeing you there!

Register for Convention 2014

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.

What are the League forums?  And, how do I log into them?

The League Forums is an online community where League leaders can exchange information, ideas and share their triumphs (or troubles).   Discussion Forums or “Groups” have been established for a number of topics, including Convention 2014. Resources about the Forums are available in the Members section, including: A step-by-step guide about Getting Started on the Forums and a short webinar about how the forms work.

If you are new to the Forums or haven’t been to them recently, follow these simple steps to join the discussion.

  1. Go to www.lwv.org and click on the word “login” in the top right of the red bar.
  2. Login with your email address and password.   (don’t worry if you don’t have a password or can’t remember it.  The page has directions for you, too.)
  3. Once you are logged in, click on the word “Forum” in the navigation menu on the left hand side of the page.

If you have a question for this area, please submit it to kmcfarland@lwv.org.
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Dear Supporter,

Last week, the IRS issued a notice asking for public comment on proposed rulemaking regarding 501(c)4 organizations. In the wake of the 2012 election during which millions of dollars in secret money poured through networks of such organizations, the League of Women Voters has issued a statement welcoming this new rulemaking process because we applaud those aspects that would rein in the dark money abuses that we have seen since Citizens United v. FEC.  On the other hand, we are deeply concerned about those aspects of the proposal that would define voters service work, including the non-partisan work of the League, as political activity inappropriate for 501(c)4  social welfare organizations.

Much of the reaction from other organizations, even those with whom the League works closely, has been aimed at stopping the rulemaking process. The League has been held up as an example of why the proposal overreaches in defining political activity. It is important to note that we are at the beginning of a very long process of developing a rule that will clearly define what tax exempt organizations can do in the political arena. This definition of “political activity” will likely be at the heart of the debate. (See the press statement below for a listing of some of the outstanding questions that need to be addressed.) We intend to be very involved in the rulemaking process because the issues under consideration are so important to the League and to our democracy. To that end, in the future, we will be providing press templates and other guidance for state and local Leagues to use. The initial comment period ends February 27, 2014, after which there would normally be a new, fully developed proposed rule and an additional comment period. If you get any calls from national media regarding this issue or process, please direct them to Kelly Ceballos at LWVUS. She is also a resource for you in responding to local media inquiries as well.

The rulemaking process is lengthy and complex and it will be important to find the right balance between protecting our elections from huge amounts of secret money and providing voters with truly nonpartisan voter information. But the fact that the task might be hard is no reason to scuttle the process before it begins. Given the gridlock in Congress, executive action to control money in elections is a key avenue that is available to us. I believe the right balance can be found if we do what League does best: speaking with one voice, providing facts and advocating in the public interest.

The League has never shied away from challenges. Finding a way through legislative and administrative thickets to arrive at a solution that promotes the common good is something we know how to do. Let’s take this opportunity to make democracy work!

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.

Advocacy

LWVUS Legislative Priorities (NEW)
In January, the LWVUS Board of Directors will be setting the League Legislative Priorities for the upcoming year. Setting these priorities for LWVUS action at the national level is an annual responsibility for the Board. Once again, the Board is soliciting suggestions for LWVUS advocacy priorities from members. If you are interested in making suggestions to the Board, please consider the goals and criteria as listed below. While the LWVUS has numerous positions under which we might take action, the Board must prioritize and consider those issues where we might be able to make a difference.

According to the LWVUS Impact on Issues, the goals for setting priorities to guide the LWV advocacy work are to: (1) Enhance the League's effectiveness by concentrating resources on priority issues; (2) Build the League's credibility and visibility by projecting a focused and consistent image; (3) Ensure that the League has sufficient issue and political expertise to act knowledgeably; and (4) Enable the League to manage resources effectively. In setting legislative priorities, the Board considers the following: (1) Opportunities for the League to make an impact; (2) Program decisions made at Convention and/or Council; (3) Member interest; and (4) Resources available to manage effectively.

If you would like to make suggestions for LWVUS advocacy priorities, please email Advocacy Committee Chair Toni Larson at toni.larson@gmail.com. Please indicate whether the suggestions are from an individual member, a committee, board or membership meeting. Suggestions must be received by January 11.

League Speaks Out on New IRS Proposal for Tax Exempt Groups (NEW)
This week the League issued a statement on the recent IRS notice of proposed rulemaking geared at curbing the abuse of 501(c)(4) non-profit organizations for partisan political activities. As quoted in this National Public Radio (NPR) story, the League is, “thrilled and is very pleased that the Administration has finally stepped up to the plate on this.”  These additional NPR stories also provide helpful background information on this critical issue.

Tell the EPA you support regulations on Carbon Pollution (Reminder)
Stand with the League and tell the EPA that you support the proposal of a groundbreaking regulation to control carbon pollution from new power plants. This proposed regulation is a game changer for the climate – especially because power plants are our single largest source of carbon pollution. Submit your comments to the EPA today in support of this historic regulation.

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Membership & leadership

Webinar Opportunity:  “Interning with the League of Women Voters” (NEW)
The Young People’s Task Force will be offering a webinar on January 9, 2014 at 1:30 PM ET. Entitled “Interning with the League of Women Voters,” the webinar will focus on the ways in which internships can be mutually beneficial for Leagues and students, the best ways to attract the best interns for the specific projects your League is working on and how best to manage, mentor and advise your interns. Registration for this webinar is now open here.

Success:  #GivingTuesday Embraced by Many Leagues (NEW)
Leagues across the country participated in the second annual #GivingTuesday campaign on December 3, 2013.  Cheers on this great visibility and fundraising effort!  We’d like to hear from you – How did it go?  What worked?  What would you recommend for next year’s effort?  Please send your comments to Shauneen Grout at sgrout@lwv.org.  As a reminder, Leagues are encouraged to follow up with all donors.  Send a note of thanks (and tax receipt as necessary) and be sure to communicate with them about successes, upcoming events, and opportunities to get more involved. 

It’s Roster Updating Time! (Reminder)
January 31 is the deadline for Leagues to update their member roster for FY2014-15. Tips on renewing members, including a renewal letter template, are available here.  We want to reward you for the great work that your League is doing to recruit and retain members and to keep the member database as up-to-date as possible.  As a way of saying thank you for all the hard work that Leagues do in maintaining these records, we are offering prizes including Staples gift cards and FREE registration to LWVUS Convention 2014 to contest winners.  To find out how to be entered to win, please click here. For assistance on working in the database, download the user manual or contact database@lwv.org.

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OTHER

Program Planning Response Form Online (NEW)
The Program Planning Response Form is now online!  Every two years state and local Leagues and ILO’s participate in the LWVUS Program Planning process by making recommendations concerning program issues.   The Program Planning process is an important League tool for identifying issues for study, review and update or concurrence.   Read the Program Planning Leaders Guide to assist you in your January/February 2014 Program Planning meeting.  If you have questions on the program planning process please email progplan@lwv.org.

Make a Donation from your IRA in 2013 (Reminder)
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 reinstated the “IRA charitable rollover” through the end of 2013. The law allows individuals 70½ and older to give up to $100,000 from their individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and Roth IRAs to qualified charitable organizations such as the League of Women Voters Education Fund without having to treat the withdrawals as taxable income. The transfer, if done properly, counts towards the taxpayer’s required minimum distribution for the year, and can be of particular value to individuals who do not claim itemized deductions on their tax return because the funds are transferred directly to nonprofits from IRA accounts and are never counted as income. Every donor’s circumstances are different, so please consult with your tax advisor to see if an IRA rollover is right for you. Please contact Aimee Olivo in the League’s Development office at 202-263-1355 or aolivo@lwv.org for additional information.

Donate to the League and support our work.

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