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Category: Action Priorites

Improving Elections

Former LWVMA Executive Director Meryl Kessler (rt.) with Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and members of the Election Modernization Coalition at a State House press conference to support AVR in March 2018.

Improving the electoral process and educating voters are goals that are central to LWVMA’s mission.

LWVMA and its coalition partners succeeded in passing  H.4820, An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19, into law Monday, July 6, 2020. This important measure assures that our Sept. 1,  2020 primary election and Nov. 3, 2020 general election are held in a way that increases the safety of voters and poll workers, eases the workload on local election officials, and creates confidence in the conduct of these elections. The major provisions of the law are outlined here.

During the 2017-18 legislative session, LWVMA and its coalition partners succeeded in passing Automatic Voter Registration, a common-sense electoral reform that was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker on August 9, 2018.  Massachusetts is the 14th state to adopt automatic voter registration, which will go into effect before the 2020 election year.

Our success in the 2017-18 session built upon our significant achievements in previous years:

In 2014, after many years of lobbying by LWVMA and its Election Modernization Coalition partners, Massachusetts took a major step to modernize its voter registration and election processes when a far-reaching election reform bill became law.

At a time when too many states are making it more difficult for citizens to register and to vote, Massachusetts should be proud to be moving in the opposite direction.

Specifically the 2014 law implemented:

These are significant improvements, but there is more work to be done.  Going forward, we will continue to push to expand early voting and to implement Election Day registration, the reform that has been shown to have the greatest impact on voter participation. We will continue fighting hard to bring the Massachusetts electoral system into the 21st century.

Equality and Justice

Racial Justice

As the Massachusetts League, we grieve and share the horror at the brutal acts toward our fellow Black citizens. We demand accountability at all levels of our government which is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Here in Massachusetts we commit as individuals and as a League to hold ourselves accountable: to listen to Black voices in our communities and the Commonwealth, to educate ourselves better and stand against the racism prevalent in our society, and to advocate for policies and practices to eliminate systemic racism in Massachusetts. We dedicate ourselves: to vigorously advocate for the opportunity for everyone to vote safely in this fall’s elections, to ensure that each member of our communities, statewide,  is counted in the Census, to address the inequities in our society that the coronavirus pandemic has so dramatically exposed, and to speak out against racism. Every resident in Massachusetts deserves equal protection and safety as we go about our daily lives. Every member of our communities should be welcomed with open hearts into our institutions and our organizations. As civically engaged members of our communities from every corner of the Commonwealth, we must set the example with our words and actions for our children and grandchildren to demand a Massachusetts which is just and fair for all.

And we amplify this call to action: the road to change lies at the ballot box, and the most significant change can happen in elections closest to home. We must exercise our rights to safeguard them. Protecting rights for everyone means standing against injustice toward anyone. Vote.

Criminal Justice

In the 1970’s and 1980’s the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts developed strong positions on our courts and corrections systems; since then, however, our rate of incarceration has more than tripled. For the last several years, LWVMA has been actively advocating for criminal justice reform. For more information click here.

Immigration

Immigration is primarily governed and enforced through federal law and federal agencies. The League of Women Voters position on immigration was developed after a national study in 2006-2008, and was adopted by the LWVUS Education Fund board in April 2008. For more information on LWVMA’s current work on immigration click here.

Meeting Basic Human Needs

Click here for supported/opposed legislation.

Gun Safety

Click here for more information.

Informed Voters and Civics Education

Governor Charlie Baker signs the landmark civic education bill into law in November 2018

Civic education and civil discourse are at the very core of the League’s work. An active and informed citizenry is the foundation of a well-functioning democracy, and the League devotes much of its activity to ensuring that citizens have access to the information, skills, and resources to play an active role in their government.

LWVMA works to ensure that the youngest residents of the Commonwealth are informed about our nation’s history, our electoral system, and issues of public importance.  We advocate for more civic education in schools, identify books on U.S. history and voting appropriate for children and teens, and sponsor an annual video contest designed to encourage high school students to engage in civic life.  We are especially proud to be a key member of the Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition which, in the 2017-18 legislative session, successfully passed a landmark civic education bill in the Commonwealth.

Additionally, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Citizen Education Fund provides programs, publications and forums on major public policy issues and disseminates information and training that help all citizens of Massachusetts to thoughtfully engaged in the democratic process.  More information about the fund and its programs is available on the Citizen Education Fund page.

 

 

Climate Change and the Environment

Recent Posts on LWVMA Action on the Environment

The League of Women Voters is committed to promoting an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest by recognizing the interrelationships of air quality, energy, land use, waste management and water resources.

LWVMA Steering Committee for Environmental Action and Advocacy

The mission of the Steering Committee for Environmental Action and Advocacy is to inform and engage members across the state on critical environmental issues and policies impacting Massachusetts, and to support and promote sustainable energy and environmental policy, legislation and local action.

The Committee coordinates a series of forums, live events and webinars, called the “LWVMA Climate and Energy Solutions Series.

Watch LWVMA Climate and Energy Solutions Series

International and National Climate Warnings Sound the Alarm: Window for Action Closing

Two important reports on climate change were released in late 2018: the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  special report and the US National Climate Assessment. Together, these reports sound the loudest alarm yet that devastating climate change is happening now and will continue to get far worse without immediate, large-scale action. In the starkest possible language, these reports tell us of the looming, catastrophic impact if we fail to respond appropriately and quickly.

The world is warming at an unprecedented and accelerating rate, and the window to effectively mitigate and adapt to the increasingly destructive effects of climate change is closing fast—leaving no “reset” option. The effects of climate change are already impacting our lives, public health, and our economy. These reports emphatically state that major efforts to decrease our carbon emissions and transition to a clean energy economy must be made within the next 10 to 12 years. Failure to take bold action now will result in a future with conditions beyond our capacity to manage.

Because of the complexity and politics of the issue, climate change has largely been left on the cutting-room floor of political agendas. Deliberate obfuscation of the facts by fossil fuel interests creates a cloud of confusion that keeps the public in the dark. Fossil fuel interests outspend environmental advocates 10:1 on climate lobbying, and that money has been very effective at stopping work on this critically important, existential issue. Climate change will easily slip back down the queue of concerns unless the public insists that elected officials prioritize immediate action on climate change.

The League has fought hard for meaningful climate action since the 1960s, and we continue the fight now. The most effective action we can take as individuals is to call and write our elected officials—those with the power to act at the level required—and demand that they take meaningful action on climate change without delay.

Supported Legislation 2019-2020

The League of Women Voters has been at the forefront of the environmental protection movement for decades, consistently supporting legislation to preserve our nation’s natural resources and protect our public health. We support legislation that seeks to protect our country from the physical, economic and public health effects of climate change while also providing pathways to economic prosperity.

LWVMA supports and opposes legislation after reviewing the bills  filed each 2-year session. For information on the LWVMA supported state legislation related to the environment, including energy and resource conservation, natural resources, and water resources are currently being considered and will be listed soon.

For information on efforts at the national level, coordinated by LWVUS, click here.

Regional Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI)

The recent Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) agreement signed on December 18, 2018 is seen as a major regional effort in its pledge to cap regional greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector – the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the region at 40%.

The TCI plan will be modeled on the “cap and invest” approach used in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), focused on emissions’ reductions from utilities. Six of the 9 TCI states are part of RGGI, with the exception of New York, New Jersey and Maine. As described in a Boston Globe article  about the agreement, “With the addition of just New York, the coalition would constitute more than one-fifth of the nation’s population and a quarter of the country’s overall economic output. If the states were a single country, they would rival Japan as the world’s third largest economy.” TCI states are committed to developing a plan for moving forward by the end of 2019. While a plan has yet to be developed and implemented, the blueprint exists in the RGGI program. More importantly, the agreement sends a clear message that the region understands the imperative to act on climate.

With the latest climate reports telling us that climate change is accelerating at an alarming rate and is already threatening our health, the environment and our economy, the urgency to act has never been clearer. We have the means; we need the political will and leadership to move forward.

LWVUS Price on Carbon Webinars

LWVUS Local League Toolkit for Climate Change

The LWVUS Climate Change Task Force encourages League members to consider adopting a Climate Initiative as part of their local program at their annual meetings this year.  There are two issue areas in particular where Leagues can make a real impact on greenhouse gas emissions — energy efficiency in buildings and renewable energy. The Grassroots Action Priorities section of the LWVUS Climate Action Toolkit includes detailed information about climate solutions. To share your League’s story, please send your answers to these questions to Task Force Chair, Eleanor Revelle (er@revelle.net).

Government for the Common Good

Education Funding Reform

For nearly 50 years, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) has monitored education aid. Since the passage of the Education Reform Act of 1993, the League has been a critic of the Chapter 70 formula for distributing education aid and has proposed solutions to provide a more equitable formula.  The League supports significantly revising the Foundation Budget formula to more accurately project districts’ costs, to more equitably distribute resources, and to empower schools to improve outcomes for all students. Click here for more information.

Affordable Housing

LWVMA has been a long-time supporter of programs, policies and regulations to address the housing needs of low- and moderate-income families and individuals.  Click here and see section on “Affordable Housing.”

Transportation

LWVMA supports a transportation system to move people and goods which includes a variety of transportation modes, with emphasis on increased public transportation services and other viable alternatives to reduce vehicle miles traveled; is efficient, convenient, and cost effective; is safe and secure; serves all segments of the population and diverse geographic needs; minimizes harmful effects on the environment; is integrated with land use; and is supported by extensive public education.  Please click here and scroll to “Environment – Climate Change and Energy.”

Gun Safety

LWVMA supports elimination of the private possession of handguns and assault weapons.  Until such time as a ban on the private possession of handguns and assault weapons becomes law the League supports improved and standardized licensing procedures; training in the use of handguns and assault weapons and the responsibilities of ownership; education of the public to the dangers of the handgun in the home; strict enforcement of the present laws concerning handgun ownership; measures to encourage the removal of all handguns and assault weapons from the home and street.  Click here for current legislation we are supporting.

Single-Payer Healthcare

LWVMA has long supported efforts to ensure affordable and equal access to quality health care for all. Click here for more information about current legislation we are supporting.

Protecting Children and Families

LWVMA has held long-standing positions on meeting basic human needs, the prevention and treatment for child abuse, addressing domestic violence and supporting day care.  Click here and scroll to the section “Children and Family Issues” for more information about current legislation we are supporting.