Press Releases

Massachusetts LWV Backs Buffer Zone for Abortion Clinics

11/26/13 BOSTON–The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a Massachusetts law establishing a buffer zone around abortion clinics.

The League has joined an amicus brief filed in the case of McCullen v. Coakley. The plaintiffs in that case seek to overturn the buffer zone law as an unconstitutional violation of free speech.

The case is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court in January.

The law establishing a 35-ft. buffer zone at abortion clinics was passed in 2007 to combat harassment and violence at the clinics. Two clinic employees in Brookline were murdered in 1994.

“The buffer zone does not restrict anyone from expressing their views. It insures safe passage to a clinic for patients and employees, protecting their constitutional right of access free from intimidation,” said Anne Borg, LWVMA co-president.

The LWVMA’s position on women’s reproductive rights dates back to 1972. The League has joined several amicus briefs in abortion rights cases before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and was a co-plaintiff in a case against Operation Rescue for physically blocking clinics.

Meryl Kessler Joins League of Women Voters of Massachusetts as Executive Director

11/5/13 Boston – The Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) is pleased to announce that Meryl Kessler has been named Executive Director. Kessler brings over 20 years of experience as an attorney, non-profit leader, and educator, as well as a strong commitment to civic education and engagement. She will lead the organization in its nonpartisan efforts to encourage the active and informed participation of citizens in their government through education and advocacy.

“We are pleased to welcome someone with Meryl’s experience and talents to our team,” said LWVMA co-presidents Anne Borg and Marilyn Peterson. “We look forward to the opportunity for growth and a more vibrant presence under her leadership.”

Before joining LWVMA, Kessler served as Legal Programs Director at Discovering Justice, a civic education non-profit organization, where she designed and managed programs to educate low-income youth in Boston and surrounding cities about the justice system and civic participation. Previously, she worked at Harvard Law School in a number of roles, including as an Ames Fellow and as a Climenko Fellow. She also taught legal studies at Brandeis University as a Guberman Fellow and began her legal career at Goulston & Storrs. In addition, she has served on Boston-area non-profit boards and volunteered for a number of civic organizations.

Kessler adds, “I am extremely excited about joining the team at the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. The League is a remarkable example of the power of a grassroots organization to mobilize citizens and affect policy. I look forward to working with the local Leagues and the LWVMA leadership to help deliver LWVMA’s mission and expand its impact.”

Ms. Kessler holds a B.A. in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University, as well as an M.A. in Government from Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

About the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts

Since its founding in 1920, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts has been a respected and trusted voice for citizen participation in our democracy. With 48 local Leagues throughout the state and over 3,000 members, LVWMA has been at the forefront of efforts to empower and educate Massachusetts voters and effect change on a wide range of issues, including election laws and campaign finance, natural resources and the environment, women’s health, children’s issues, state budget and finances, public education, and public safety. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages. For more information about the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, go to www.lwvma.org.

League of Women Voters Backs Updated Bottle Deposit Ballot Effort

8/7/13 BOSTON—The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts is asking voters to expand the deposit on single-serve beverage containers to non-carbonated beverages.

The League joined MassPIRG and the Sierra Club Wednesday in filing a request with the Massachusetts Attorney General to put the updated bottle deposit question on the ballot in November 2014 and will be working to collect the signatures needed to get the issue on the ballot.

The current five-cent deposit on carbonated beverages was enacted in 1982. Supporters of the ballot initiative argue that the deposit should be expanded to include such non-carbonated beverages as water, tea and sports drinks. They have been encouraging the legislature to make that change for over 14 years, but the legislation has failed to pass.

“This ballot initiative will give the citizens of Massachusetts the chance to update the bottle deposit law, and past polls have shown widespread support for an expanded deposit program,” said Anne Borg, co-president, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. “Deposits encourage consumers to return bottles so they can be recycled instead of discarding them, reducing litter. Look around any playground and you see discarded water bottles, but few discarded soda cans. Expanding deposits will also reduce the costs to cities and towns to collect and dispose of trash that includes containers that should be recycled.”

“It makes no sense to have a deposit on a bottle of sparkling water but not a bottle of still water. Consumers can be easily confused about which bottles to take back for redemption and which to put in their recycling bins,” she said.

Supporters of the expanded bottle deposit initiative, including the League, will be collecting signatures this fall to put the question on the ballot.

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization which encourages informed and active participation in government and works to increase understanding of major public policy issues. For additional information, see the website, www.lwvma.org.

League of Women Voters Supports Bills to Strengthen Low-Income Families

6/5/2013 BOSTON—The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts has submitted testimony to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities in support of bills that would encourage educational opportunities and support financial stability for low-income families and individuals.

The bills, S.37 and H.93, An Act Promoting Financial Stability and Asset Development

for Low to Moderate Income Families, are sponsored by Sen. James Eldridge and Rep. Linda Forry. They encourage vocational education and other programs to help families and individuals receiving state assistance to become self-supporting and financially independent.

In her written testimony to the joint committee, Clarice B. Gordon, LWVMA legislative specialist on meeting basic human needs, pointed out that the majority of assistance recipients are young mothers with children. “It is particularly important that these women are allowed and encouraged to pursue their education. The short time that they are receiving aid is often the best time in their lives they will ever have to finish high school, take college courses or improve their vocational skills. Little is gained by having these women fulfill their work requirements in low paying jobs and be no better prepared two years later to support themselves and their children,” she wrote.

The League testimony added that aid recipients pursuing further education should not be subject to requirements that prevent them from effectively completing that education, and that aid recipients who are working should be granted reasonable allowances to permit them to continue working such as owning a reliable car or deducting expenses such as uniform costs.

League of Women Voters Supports Carbon Tax Proposal

 4/15/2013 BOSTON—The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts has submitted testimony in support of a bill proposing to create a carbon tax in the state to the Joint Committee on Revenue.

The League supports H.2532, “An Act Relative to shifting from carbon emissions to transportation investment,” sponsored by Rep. Thomas Conroy and Sen. Michael Barrett.

Launa Zimmaro, energy and resource conservation specialist for the Massachusetts League, noted in the written testimony that this is the first carbon tax proposed at the state level.

“As such, it promises to serve not only to reduce carbon emissions in Massachusetts, but as a model and catalyst for state, national and international action,” she wrote. “This groundbreaking legislation is significant not only for its environmental and symbolic value, but also for revenue generation for the Commonwealth – revenue that is needed to support the transition from a carbon-based energy system to a future of clean, renewable energy.”

“The relatively low cost of carbon based fuels encourages their use and stymies conservation and investment in clean, renewable energy development. H.2532 focuses on the demand side of the carbon equation by pricing carbon to reflect its true social cost, a cost that has been borne by, but hidden from, the public,” the League testimony stated.

Enacting a carbon tax would provide incentives to reduce use of carbon-based fuels, generate revenues for public transportation and clean-energy initiatives, and begin to address climate change issues, according to the testimony.

The bill contains provisions to offset the impact of the carbon tax on lower-income households.

For LWVMA testimony on this bill, click here.