Archives for May 2014

Candidates at Transportation Forum

Transportation for Massachusetts, a coalition which LWVMA belongs to, and Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance sponsored “Moving Massachusetts Forward – A Gubernatorial Forum on Transportation and Smart Growth” at the Boston Public Library June 4.

Candidates Joe Avellone (D), Don Berwick (D), Evan Falchuk (I), Steven Grossman (D) and Jeff McCormack (I) attended the forum, which aimed to give gubernatorial candidates a chance to voice their opinions about ways to address transportation challenges and to meet the needs of the city’s residents.

The forum, presented in coordination with the Livable Streets Alliance and Kendall Square Association, was moderated by Paul McMorrow, associate editor at Commonwealth magazine, and Doug Foy, CEO of Serrafix.

Questions were delivered in rapid-fire format starting with whether the candidates supported the ballot question to repeal the law establishing gas tax indexing.  All but one candidate, Joe Avellone, opposed the question that would repeal gas tax indexing.

Other questions covered candidates’ favorite green spaces, their opinion on taxing alternate taxi services such as Lift and Uber, and whether they support MassDOTGreenDOT. Other topics of concern were repairing Eisenhower-era bridges, a rail extension from the Berkshires to New York City and what innovation they would use to upgrade state transportation.

A top priority for transportation remains raising and maintaining capital. When asked how best to do this, candidates’ suggestions included aligning with the private sector for funding and gathering input at the local level on insiders’ knowledge to create swift change.

LWVMA opposes the ballot question to repeal the gas tax Indexing, since a repeal could greatly affect future transportation funding.

                –Robin N. Roberge, LWVMA Transportation Specialist


RSVP July 23 LWVMA Member Event

Connecting the Dots: Environmental Advocacy and Campaign Finance Reform

Presentation by Launa Zimmaro, LWVMA Board Member, at the Quad States Conference on May 3, 2014.

Connecting the Dots: Environmental Advocacy and Campaign Finance Reform

Election Reform — at last!

UPDATE:   The election reform bill passed the House on Wednesday, May 14, by a final tally of 147-4.  It passed the Senate Thursday, May 15, 38-0.  Governor Deval Patrick signed it into law Thursday, May 22, a true victory for the voters of the Commonwealth.

The comprehensive election reform bill that the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts and its coalition partners have been advocating for is coming up for a final vote.

The legislative conference committee reconciling the earlier House and Senate versions of the bill reported their compromise bill to the House Monday, May 12.  It is expected to be voted on by the House this week and the Senate shortly after.  It will then go to the Governor.

The bill, renumbered H.4072, makes major reforms in the way Massachusetts conducts elections.  It includes provisions for early voting, online voter registration, pre-registration for 16-year-olds, and post-election audits of voting machines.

“The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts is pleased that the conference committee has approved this significant update to the state’s election laws. Many of the provisions make it easier to register to vote and easier to cast a ballot. In this increasingly complicated world, these are critical goals,” said Anne Borg, LWVMA co-president.

“When this bill is enacted and signed by the Governor, it will greatly improve Massachusetts’ standing as a state that supports access to the polls.  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 bill calls for:

  • Online voter registration.
  • Online portal to check voter registration status.
  • Pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds, who then automatically become eligible to vote when they turn 18.
  • Early voting during business hours at a city or town’s election office. Cities and towns can extend early voting hours to weekends if they choose and offer additional sites for early voting. Early voting begins with the 2016 election.
  • Post-election audits of randomly-selected precincts after Presidential elections.
  • Creation of an elections task force to study additional issues, including cost of early voting and need for additional sites and hours, voter fraud, wait times, and Election Day voter registration.

The League has worked actively for these reforms for years, and has partnered with other voter advocacy organizations including Common Cause, MassVote, MassPIRG, and the ACLU of Massachusetts to persuade the legislature to pass them.  The coalition includes 45 organizations.  The coalition’s press release is available here.

While this bill does not include Election Day registration, it does create a task force to review additional election-related issues.  The conference committee has specifically charged this task force to include Election Day registration for Massachusetts as well as expansion of early voting hours in its work.

The bill does not contain any provisions for showing photo identification to vote.


LWVMA Announces Winners of “Dear Future Governor” Student Video Contest

May 6, 2014 / Boston, MA – The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) today announced the three winners of its “Dear Future Governor…” Student Video Contest.

With a gubernatorial election scheduled for fall 2014, the League invited Massachusetts high school students to create two-minute videos illustrating a problem or issue in their communities that they hope the next Governor will address.  The contest aimed to heighten civic awareness among high school students, provide them with an opportunity to speak out about the topics that are important to them, and possibly help shape the next Governor’s agenda. The winners will receive awards of $1,000 (first place); $500 (second place); and $250 (third place).

The three winning videos are:

First Place: “Restore Democracy,” by TJ Horgan, Burlington High School

Second Place: “Change,” by Addison Dlott, Natick High School

Third Place:  “Implementing Youth Courts Throughout Massachusetts,” by Rezwana Uddin, Durfee High School (Fall River)

The winning videos were selected from a pool of entries submitted from across the state—from western Massachusetts to Martha’s Vineyard—that touched on a wide variety of topics, including the economy, gun control, crime, gangs, the environment, education, campaign finance reform, legalization of marijuana, immigration, minimum wage, bullying, potholes, veteran’s benefits, and alternative energy, to name just a few. The Judging Committee—composed of members of LWVMA, as well as members of the Governor’s Statewide Youth Council—selected the winning submissions based on their clear and compelling messages, memorable content and delivery, and creativity.

“We were floored by the quality of the videos we received and by the range of topics they addressed,” said LWVMA Executive Director Meryl Kessler. “We received so many excellent, thoughtful submissions that the Judging Committee had a difficult time choosing winners.”

“These videos show how deeply young people in Massachusetts care about finding solutions to issues of public policy” said Anne Borg, co-president of LWVMA. “We are proud not only of the winners, but of all the entrants.”

In addition to the individual prizes, Durfee High School in Fall River will receive a special prize of $250 for being the first high school to submit five or more videos. An award ceremony will be scheduled for later this month.

The contest was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Citizen Education Fund, which supports programs designed to encourage the active and informed participation of citizens in democracy and increase understanding of public policy issues.

Boston Globe backs bottle bill

Headline: The bottle bill, again: Beacon Hill’s overdue deposit – The Boston Globe

Date:     Jun 10, 2014

The Legislature’s repeated failure to strengthen the state bottle bill has become an embarrassing symbol of special-interest power — one that finally seems to be on the verge of ending, thanks to the initiative of voters who have grown tired of waiting.