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April News for Members

Convention 2021– Save the date! 

The 2021 LWVMA Convention “Expanding the Table: Making Democracy Work for Everyone” will be held Saturday, June 26 on Zoom. Convention brings local League delegates together to hear distinguished speakers, approve program for the next biennium, elect a new board of directors, approve the budget, and network with leaders from across the state. Make plans now to have your League well represented– there will be no charge for this event! Registration and more details will be available here soon

Act on the VOTES Act

The VOTES Act—HD.1536/SD.1002 An Act fostering voting opportunities, trust, equity, and security—was drafted by LWVMA and the other members of the Election Modernization Coalition to make the temporary elections reforms in place for the 2020 elections permanent. The bill was filed by Rep. John Lawn and Sen. Cynthia Creem.  
Please click on the bill links above to see if your Senator and Representative have co-sponsored the bill. If not, email them and ask them to co-sponsor to make the reforms that helped generate a record voter turnout during the pandemic permanent.
The bill covers reforms including expanded in-person early voting, and expanded access to voting by mail. Voters will be able to ask that mail ballots be sent to them permanently (until they cancel) without further application. It provides for drop boxes, an online portal for mail ballot application and prepaid postage for applications and ballots. It also continues the practices at election officials’ offices that make the process more efficient, including processing mailed ballots ahead of Election Day.
Other provisions:
  • Same-day voter registration
  • Requirement that corrections officials facilitate voting for those being held who are eligible to vote
  • Risk-limiting post-election audits every two years 
  • Adjust automatic voter registration practice to comply with original law to permit opt-out when voter is notified of registration rather than at point of contact
  • Require Secretary of State to join Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) by June 30, 2022. Law passed in 2018 required Massachusetts to join ERIC.
A note about terminology: Last session we supported Election Day voter registration. We are changing the term to same-day voter registration (SDR) because our bill would allow people to register and vote on early voting days as well as Election Day itself. 

Save the Date: VOTES Act Lobby Day — May 11

Plan to participate in a virtual lobby day to support the VOTES Act, which will make permanent election reforms put in place last fall. The virtual lobby day will be Tuesday, May 11, noon to 1:30 p.m. Register here to join!

Give the Gift of League Membership This Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day, we’re welcoming in the next generation of leaders. Help us welcome your daughters, granddaughters, nieces, neighbors, or other young people in your lives into the League. Access templates and learn more here.

Watch MA Redistricting Webinar

All state legislative and congressional districts in Massachusetts are being re-drawn now and will be in place for the next decade. Our goal is to ensure a fair and transparent process that guarantees equity for all voices in the Commonwealth. In the webinar held March 31, we outline the basics of redistricting, why it matters, and concrete action steps you and your Leagues can take to make democracy work for all. View People Powered Fair Maps: Redistricting in Massachusetts here.

Investigate “Repricincting” in Your Municipality

You can help the statewide redistricting process by finding out the plans your city or town has for reprecincting and if your town or city government has been contacted by the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office on the reprecincting timing this year. The state process requires the precincts are drawn and approved by June 15 of the year the Census is released. Precincts are to be established before the Congressional and state districts are drawn. However, the Census data will not be available until well after June 15, leading to significant disruptions in the reprecincting and redistricting process. Please check with your town or city’s mayor, city council, manager, Select Board, or election officials for this information. Send any information you gather to Judy Zaunbrecher.

Watch Webinar on State Budget

Many thanks to Beacon BLOC members Mark Martinez and Tara Wilson for the wonderful presentation, Demystifying the State Budget. We appreciate Beacon BLOC and the Young Professionals Network of the Urban League of Eastern MA for preparing the presentation.
View the Demystifying the State Budget recording here. You can also watch an earlier LWVMA webinar with BeaconBLOC entitled How does the Massachusetts legislature work? here.

Guns, Safety, and the Edge of Adulthood Report

LWVMA is a member of the MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, which is focusing on actions that will address the root causes of violence and create anti-racist system change.  The Center for Court Innovation has released an in-depth and critical report on why youth pick up guns

Support Medicare for All in Massachusetts

We need to get last year’s sponsors back on board and get the new legislators to sign onto HD.2656/SD.546 to support An Act Establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts. Please click on the bill links above to see if your Senator and Representative have co-sponsored the bill. If they have not signed onto the bills, please contact them to urge them to do so. It is time for this bill to be passed! 

Seeking Co-sponsors for Immigration Bills

Safe Communities Act: Have your legislators signed onto (SD.532/HD.1165) as official co-sponsors? Please click on the bill links to check. If not, please ask them to cosponsor. The Safe Communities Act would end state and local involvement in deportations. Please see this factsheet for more information. The bill has over 200 organization endorsements, including the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, which see this bill as a critical public health response to the ongoing global pandemic. 
Driving Families Forward: Have your legislators signed onto (SD.273/HD.448) as official cosponsors? Please click on the bill links to check. If not, please contact them to cosponsor the bill to offer drivers’ licenses to all regardless of immigration status. Updated factsheet can be found here

Save the Date: People Powered Day of Action—April 29

LWVUS is hosting the People Powered Day of Action on April 29 as an opportunity for state and local Leagues and partners across the country to come together and affirm their commitment to prepare for redistricting and create fair maps in 2021. LWVMA is planning to host a Day of Action event and we encourage you to host one at the local level. We’ll have details soon. The delay in the release of Census results will make the redistricting process challenging this year. Educating and preparing ourselves to contribute to a fair and transparent process at the local and state level will help make sure Massachusetts districts provide for fair representation across the state.  
For more information about People Powered Fair Maps, check out LWV’s landing page here. Check out other Frequently Asked Questions about Day of Action here!

Join the Environmental Action and Advocacy Committee

Are you interested in working with other League members in the state on environmental issues and action? The LWVMA Environmental Action and Advocacy Committee (EAAC) is gearing up again and is seeking new members as we look to the future.
The goals of the LWVMA EAAC are to inform members across the state on critical environmental issues and policies impacting Massachusetts, and to support and promote sustainable energy and environmental policy that incorporates meaningful provisions around environmental justice and equity, legislation and local action. The EAAC will meet monthly via Zoom on the 3rd Monday of each month, from 4:00pm-5:00pm. 
If you’d like to be a part of this team, please contact Launa Zimmaro with your name, local League, email address, and a little bit about your interests and experience. We are grateful for your support and welcome any questions you may have. Click here for further information about the EAAC. 

Seeking Specialist for Mascot Bills

The Legislative Action Committee (LAC) is seeking to add a member to follow legislation related to Native American mascots and actions on the state seal and flag. For more information, contact Kathy Leonardson, LAC Chair.

Racial Justice Resources Available

Not sure where or how to start work on Racial Justice? This LWVMA compendium contains a wealth of information whether you are just beginning to explore the topic on a personal level, or as a League seeking partners for change in your community. Browse materials here.
LWVMA Did Well in Last Legislative Session
LWVMA celebrates several major legislative victories during the 2019-2020 formal legislative session, including passage of pandemic election reforms, a major education funding bill, the ROE Act expanding abortion access and a strong climate change bill. Read about the session’s outcome here.

Legislation Update

The deadline for bills to be filed (without having to meet late-filing requirements) for this session of the legislature was Feb. 19. The Legislative Action Committee specialists are now reviewing the bills that were filed to see which ones the League will be supporting for the rest of the session. That process takes a while. We will be listing the bills we are following on our website later this spring.  
Just to show you how many bills are filed vs. how many pass, MassTrac reports 9,678 bills were filed in the last session, and 530 were passed and sent to the Governor. Of those bills, only 93 were considered “substantive,” and the rest of the 530 dealt with issues like home rule petitions, sick leave bank, individual retirement benefits or land taking. So about 5% of bills filed are actually passed, and about 1% of bills filed and passed are substantive bills.  
LWVMA supported more than 160 bills last session. These bills were followed by 23 LWVMA legislative specialists of the Legislative Action Committee who also testified and advocated for these bills over two years. (About half of these were refiled bills that didn’t pass the previous session.)
Role of Local Leagues and members: If local Leagues or individual League members have bills they would like the LWVMA to support, they can forward that information to a Legislative Action Committee (LAC) specialist for consideration via Chair Kathy Leonardson. Each LAC specialist makes a determination about what bills will be presented to the whole LAC for approval; that list is sent to the LWVMA Board, as a final check. Determination of what bills the specialist chooses relies on their expertise, coalition involvement, and their time. (LAC specialists are volunteers). The list of bills LWVMA supports will not be completed for at least another month, although advocacy has started on refiled bills that the League already supports (see articles in this newsletter). Legislative success often takes many years of advocacy.

Kudos to Hamilton-Wenham’s Gretel Clark

Gretel Clark of the Hamilton Wenham League and chair of the Waste Reduction Committee was cited in a Boston Globe article for her work making Hamilton the first town in Massachusetts to mandate composting. Congrats Gretel!