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The League Voice Newsletter

March 2011

Continuing to Make History!

March is Women's History Month, and we've been celebrating! After all, the League's roots and long history are woven into U.S. women's history. So, as we applaud the advances women have made, we remain focused on our mission – strengthening our democratic system and increasing the public's participation –and our current concerns, – protecting voters' rights; fighting for the Clean Air Act; and preserving the gains from one-year old health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act.

We want to hear from you, too. Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page and blog.

Elisabeth MacNamara
Elisabeth MacNamara
President, LWVUS

Voter Protection

Through the Public Advocacy for Voter Protection (PAVP) project, the League continues to battle new barriers to voting in state legislatures across the country. Leagues are working in seventeen states that have voter photo ID (VPID) bills moving in their legislature. To date we believe we have been able to stop legislation in AR, CO, IA, NM and VA. The greatest threats for passage in the next few weeks include OH, TX, KS and SC with prospects for ID laws in MO, MT, NH, PA, RI, TN, and WI increasing. State Leagues have been working diligently in pushing back these efforts.  It's hard to believe that in this time of budgetary crisis and joblessness, legislatures are focused on creating new government programs that will not only cost millions of dollars to enact but also take away people's voting rights.

In this letter calling on President Obama to remedy dysfunction at the Federal Election Commission, the League and its partners urged him to nominate five new commissioners to fix the continuing meltdown.

Clean Air Defense

The League spoke out in support of the EPA-proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standard: "This long overdue…critically important action…will save 17,000 American lives and prevent 120,000 asthma attacks."

Take action now to support Clean Air! The House of Representatives is expected to consider legislation that would permanently block the EPA from regulating harmful carbon pollution. Urging opposition, the League sent a letter to the entire House and joined with coalition partners in a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman and Ranking Member, while the League's volunteer Lobby Corps visited select members of the House. At the grassroots, Leagues' letters to the editor, published in their local and state newspapers, urge continued support of the Clean Air Act.

On the international front, the League, in a letter, urged Senate leaders of the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee to support appropriations for international investments to address the causes and consequences of a changing climate.

Health Care Defense

One year ago last week the Affordable Care Act became law! Already, some provisions of the law are making a difference: Current beneficiaries of this historic Act are children with pre-existing conditions, young adults to age 26 who can now stay on their parents' health plans and those  whose coverage had lifetime limits. We laud those states that have started important groundwork for implementing provisions of the complex Act. As for those states working to overturn the law through court action and members of Congress intent on repealing, defunding, and simply whittling away at the law, our fight continues. Going backwards is not an option, and the anticipated financial and human cost of such a move, as noted here, is indeed great.

Money in Elections

Late last month, the League and its coalition partners filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Arizona's public financing law.  Oral arguments in the case, McComish v. Bennett, were held this week.

Redistricting

Leagues Take Charge to Impact Redistricting: Leagues across the country are working to promote a more transparent and fair redistricting process in 2011. Last week, the Virginia League hosted a special event to announce winners of the Virginia College and University Redistricting Competition, in which student teams from 13 Virginia colleges produced maps of new districts in an effort to promote public participation and awareness about the impact of redistricting.  In Florida, the League is active in leading the diverse Fair Districts Florida coalition that is urging state leaders to properly implement the new state redistricting rules overwhelmingly approved by Florida voters last year. Learn more by visiting our redistricting page.

Congressional Ethics

Concerned over the stalled ethics investigation, the League and coalition partners sent a letter to the House Committee on Ethics leadership asking when the inquiry into possible ethics violations by Representative Maxine Waters will be resumed and completed. Read the media coverage in Roll Call, Washington Post, TPMMuckraker and The Hill.

Openness in Government

As noted on the League's blog, the LWVEF co-hosted the 6th annual Sunshine Week national panel discussion with experts from inside and outside government, who presented a thoughtful assessment of transparency at the federal level. Webcast live and later broadcast on C-SPAN, "The Road Forward on Open Government" is available here.

The Quest For A More Diverse Judiciary

At this month's "League Day at the Capital," the League of Women Voters of Kansas held a press conference to highlight key successes of the state-wide education campaign, "Quest for a More Diverse Judiciary." The event featured Professor Jeffrey Jackson, Washburn University, and Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nussurt. See the media coverage here

Promoting Global Democracy

The League's latest group of American Legislative Fellows recently returned from Colombia where they met with a variety of officials at all levels of government, members of civil society, and the press. Read about their 10-day experience here.

Support The League

You Can Make a Gift That Helps Your League at All Three Levels!
Some things never change even in these challenging economic times. The League of Women Voters Education Fund continues to be at the forefront of public policy issue education which allows citizens to thoughtfully engage in the democratic process. By making a gift of cash or securities of $5,000 or more to the LWVEF Pooled Income Fund, you can receive an immediate income tax deduction for a portion of the gift's value and continue earning a quarterly return on the interest earned for life. Best of all, you can name your state and/or local League, along with the LWVEF, to benefit from the residual funds when you're gone. For more information, please contact the Development office at 202-263-1355 or plannedgiving@lwv.org.

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Fun Facts

LWV of Connecticut Uncovers Rare 1918 Memoir
League member's 1918 memoir reveals Connecticut state legislators' views on suffrage as recorded from personal interviews.

Member in the Spotlight

Nikole Wolfe, LWV of Lexington, KY

Working with my local League has enabled me to meet some remarkable people, gain leadership skills and become a better public speaker. I wouldn’t trade my League experience for anything.

Nikole Wolfe, LWV of Lexington, KY

Leaders in the Spotlight

League Leaders Energized to Grow the League to Make Democracy Work

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