Register Now for “Beyond the March: Women Leading the Way in Massachusetts”

Saturday, April 28, 2018, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Clark University, Tilton Wetzel Room
950 Main Street, Worcester, Massachusetts

Click here to register now!  A schedule of the day’s events appears below.

 

In the current climate of gridlock and dysfunction, many of us are calling out for solutions to strengthen our civic foundations at the local, state, and national level. Women especially are feeling energized to “do something” to fix political institutions that are widely perceived as broken.

We’re feeling this way, too, and we’d like to help provide ideas for action.

Please join us for a full day of engaging speakers to explore lessons from women’s activist past, the key role of women leaders today, and concrete steps we can all take to strengthen our democracy going forward.

  • 9:00 – 9:30 AM – Check-in and coffee
  • 9:30 – 9:35 AM – Welcome
    • Speaker: Mary Ann Ashton, President, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts
  • 9:35 – 10:20 AM – Our Activist Roots: Massachusetts Suffragists and the Power of Persistence
    • Speaker: Barbara Berenson, author, Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement: Revolutionary Reformers
  • 10:20 – 10:30 AM – Break
  • 10:30 – 11:30 AM – All Politics is Local: Making Democracy Work in Cities
    • Moderator: Lisa Wong, Deputy Director, Asian American Civic Association, former Mayor, Fitchburg
    • Panelists:
      • Ruthanne Fuller, Mayor, Newton
      • Yvonne Spicer, Mayor, Framingham
      • Sarai Rivera, City Councilor, Worcester
  • 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM – Break
  • 12:00  – 12:50 PM – Lunch Session, Reflections From Washington
    • Keynote Speaker: Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts 3rd Congressional District
  • 12:50 – 1:00 PM – Break
    Looking Ahead:  Action Steps for Change
  • 1:00 – 1:50 PM
    • Speaker: Daniel Ziblatt, Professor of Government, Harvard University, co-author, How Democracies Die
  • 1:50 – 2:00 PM – Break
  • 2:00 –2:50 PM
    • Speaker: Erin O’Brien, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Boston

LWVUS Press Release: Census Citizenship Question Will Result in Inaccurate Count

March 27, 2018/Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters president Chris Carson issued the following statement in response to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to include a question pertaining to citizenship in the 2020 Census:

“Including a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census will damage the chances for an accurate count of our country’s population. This unprecedented change to the way we count the number people living in the United States is a betrayal of the idea that in America, every person counts.

“Make no mistake: this decision isn’t about improving demographic data on citizenship. It’s designed to frighten immigrants—citizens and noncitizens alike—so they won’t participate in the Census. It’s a blatant political maneuver meant to disenfranchise these groups and deny them equal representation. So Secretary Ross’ claim that this question helps enforce the Voting Rights Act is preposterous. Indeed, including this question on the Census undermines the rights of eligible voters and threatens a process vital to our democracy.

“For more than 200 years, the Census has collected information about the geographic distribution of our population so we can provide representation and invest in our communities equitably. A fair and accurate Census is essential to the way the federal government allocates resources for infrastructure, education, and transportation. Census data is critical when determining resources for fire, water and trash collection. Without a complete count of our nation’s people, businesses will not have the tools to make sound investment decisions that keep our communities thriving.

“Adding this question to the Census now is not only unnecessary and jeopardizes the accuracy of the report, but it comes at a huge financial expense. Taxpayers should not be held responsible for the time and cost of changing the forms and making the report less accurate.

“The United States Constitution mandates an accurate count of all people living in the United States – not all citizens. Non-citizens are an integral part of our economy and need to be included in the 2020 Census to paint a complete picture of our great country. The clock is ticking toward 2020. We call on Congress to take action and correct this issue before it is too late.”

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LWVMA Urges Speaker DeLeo to Bring AVR Bill to a Vote

On March 26, 2018, the League of Women of Massachusetts sent a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo urging him bring to the floor for a vote the bill to authorize Automatic Voter Registration in Massachusetts, H.4320.  The text of the letter is here:

AVR DeLeo letter LWVMA-FINAL

Secretary of State William Galvin Joins Statewide Groups in Calling for Automatic Voter Registration in Massachusetts

March 22, 2018/BOSTON, MA -Secretary of State William Galvin today announced his support for Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) in Massachusetts and urged the legislature to pass the  AVR bill (with new bill number H.4320) as soon as possible this session.

“I look forward to working with the Elections Modernization Coalition on the successful implementation of automatic voter registration in Massachusetts and to achieve our shared goal of continuing to increase access and voter participation in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary Galvin at a State House press conference this morning, where he was joined by members of the Coalition.

The AVR legislation, introduced by Sen. Cynthia Creem and the late Rep. Peter Kocot, would establish a system for eligible citizens to automatically register to vote when they interact with a state agency like the Registry of Motor Vehicles or MassHealth. Approximately 680,000 eligible Massachusetts voters are currently not registered.

“We’re pleased to have Secretary Galvin’s support for automatic voter registration in our state,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “AVR will make our election system more accurate, secure and efficient. It is critical for the legislature to pass it as soon as possible.”

The bill has popular and growing support in both legislative chambers. It has 84 House co-sponsors and 22 Senate sponsors and has passed out of the Joint Committee on Election Laws. The legislation is also endorsed by 61 organizations including environmental, civil rights, consumer, community, labor, and good government groups.

“AVR will remove real obstacles to political participation, ensuring that more voices can be heard. Democracy works best when it works for everyone, and AVR will move us one step closer to that ideal,” added Meryl Kessler of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.

Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, Executive Director of MassVOTE said, “MassVOTE is very pleased Secretary Galvin is supporting the AVR bill. It is a step in the right direction to removing one more barrier that disproportionately affects our most disenfranchised communities. We believe it will increase voter participation and turnout while continuing to modernize our election process.”

“Voting is the bedrock of our democratic process, and increased voter participation makes our democracy stronger,” said Carol Rose, executive director of ACLU of Massachusetts. “It’s time for Massachusetts to join the growing national trend and pass automatic voter registration to promote access to the ballot.”

“In addition to the statewide organizations, many new activists have been inspired by the automatic voter registration campaign,” said Joyce Hackett, an activist from Western MA. “Indivisible Massachusetts, People Power, Action Together, Lift Every Vote – we’re all working in concert with the Election Modernization Coalition to pass this bill because we’re inspired by the chance to help so many new, eligible voters participate.”

“Regardless of these nor’easters, we hope the Legislature will quickly ‘spring’ into action, and pass automatic voter registration now,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG.

In Oregon, the first state to implement AVR, 230,000 voters registered in its first six months, and more than 265,000 inaccurate registrations were updated during the same period. About 97,000 new voters participated in the 2016 election because of the reform. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have already passed Automatic Voter Registration, all in a bipartisan manner: Oregon, California, West Virginia, Alaska, Vermont, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Washington.

The Election Modernization Coalition is led by Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters or Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, the ACLU of Massachusetts, and Progressive Massachusetts. A full list of organizations endorsing AVR can be found here, and more information about AVR can be found here.

LWVMA Statement on Gun Control

The tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida has shocked and mobilized the country.  Students are leading the way and saying #Enough, and those of us who are committed to civic engagement are heartened by their response and eager to do our part to support them.

The LWVMA Board and staff share this urgency, and encourage each of us to find a way to take action on the issue at this critical juncture.  As League members, we can be proud of the work that we’ve done in Massachusetts on this issue, but now is the time to let young voices know that we’re with them and willing to continue to do our part.  Each of you can make a difference.

The League has a strong position on gun control, including supporting a ban on assault weapons. You can read the entire Massachusetts position in Where We Stand, page 47, and the LWVUS position here.  Local Leagues and League members can organize actions, contact legislators, write letters to the editor, and generally take action in favor of stronger gun controls based on these positions.  Leagues should refrain from targeting specific legislators to avoid appearing to endorse or oppose candidates, but are free to act in support of gun law reforms.

Here are some specific things you can do today and in the coming weeks:

  • Educate yourself and community members about the laws that Massachusetts has already enacted.  Massachusetts has already enacted laws that require a permit to purchase, require an owner license, require a carry permit for handguns, prohibit assault weapons, restrict magazine capacity, and require background checks for private sales.  Additional resources for understanding the current laws can be found here.  Marblehead League members put together a resource guide to educate themselves about the issue, and they’ve shared it with the rest of us.  It was completed in December, so there is more news and links that could be added, but it’s a great place for other Leagues to begin. LWVMA is a member of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, and there are resources on the coalition’s website.
  • Offer to register students to vote during one of the school walkouts on March 14 at 10 a.m. (#NationalSchoolWalkout). You can find out if schools in your area are participating here. Leagues that are interested in offering voter registration should contact the students organizing and the school administration first; in most instances, this walkout will be a very brief 17-minute demonstration, so the time may not work for registration on this particular day.Perhaps you can offer another opportunity to register students, leveraging their engagement around this issue. The LWVMA office has postcards on how to register to vote online and on pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, which you can make available to schools. If you would like to request postcards for the March 14event, please contact Brynne Gorman by Monday, March 5.
  • Participate in one of the March for Our Lives rallies being planned nationwide on Saturday, March 24.  In Massachusetts there are already marches planned for Boston, Worcester, Chelmsford and Northampton, and more may be in the planning stages.  LWVMA is planning to offer voter registration at the rally in Boston, and we urge other Leagues around the state to do the same in their towns.  As the Florida students keep pointing out, if legislators won’t pass stronger gun laws, “vote them out.” We can help make sure every proponent of stronger gun laws is registered to vote.  We can also participate with signs and a strong presence.  If you’d like to help with the Boston event, please contact LWVMA Voter Service Co-Chair Judy Zaunbrecher.  If you’re planning action in your community, let us know and we will share that with other members.  We will have more information on the March 24 rallies coming soon.
  • Urge your U.S. Senators to oppose the Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill, HR38.  That bill has already passed the U.S. House.  Even though Senator Warren and Senator Markey oppose this bill, they need to hear from constituents.  This bill would allow someone granted a concealed carry permit in any state to carry concealed guns in any other state, regardless of that state’s laws.  See the LWVUS letter for talking points.
  • Join LWVMA’s Legislative Action Committee (LAC) as a volunteer specialist on gun control legislation.  This is currently an open position on the LAC that we are eager to fill. If you are inspired to take a more active role in working with current and future Massachusetts legislation on this issue, please contact Nancy Brumback, LAC chair.
  • Contact your state legislators and urge passage of a current bill before the legislature, the Extreme Risk Protective Order bill, H.3081, which establishes a civil procedure for removing guns from people who pose a significant danger of causing physical harm to themselves or others.  Since LWVMA does not have a gun issues specialist, we have not taken a position on this bill. But you can contact your legislators as an individual and urge passage!
  • Review the LWVMA Citizen Lobbyist Handbook for pointers on legislative advocacy and offer to share this publication with students and other community members; you can also offer to meet with students to review the materials and answer questions.
  • Include questions on gun control in candidate forums and voter guides as it is appropriate.  This is another way to keep this issue in front of voters.

The entire Board and staff encourage you to find a way to get involved with this issue and to add our voices to the building momentum.  If your League is planning action around these items, please share any calendar updates with Brynne Gorman so we can add them to the LWVMA calendar, and share your successes with all our members.

We are so glad to be partnering with you and our communities.

Mary Ann Ashton, President

Kate Boland

Lee Bona

Nancy Brumback

Kris Eastman

Scotti Finnegan

Donna Hooper

Andrea Kozinetz

Cindy Ku

Marilyn Peterson

Karen Price

Judy Zaunbrecher

Meryl Kessler, Executive Director

Cooler Smarter Webinar February 27

The LWVMA Climate and Energy Solutions Series continues with a WEBINAR
Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps to Low-Carbon Living.

Registration is required, click here.

Cooler-Smarter-flyer-rev

Statewide Groups, AG Healey Ask Legislators to Pass Automatic Voter Registration in Massachusetts

January 31, 2018/BOSTON, MA – Attorney General Maura Healey joined hundreds of citizens and dozens of organizations today in urging the legislature to pass Automatic Voter Registration (H.2091 and S.373) as soon as possible this session. Teachers, veterans, environmentalists, immigrants, and union members were among those who came to the State House from all over to state to support Automatic Voter Registration (AVR).

“Voting is the most basic and essential right in a democracy,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “I am pleased to join Common Cause and the Election Modernization Coalition in making sure that right is available and accessible to all eligible voters in Massachusetts.”

The AVR legislation, introduced by Sen. Cynthia Creem and Rep. Peter Kocot, would establish a system for eligible citizens to automatically register to vote when they interact with a state agency like the Registry of Motor Vehicles or MassHealth. Approximately 680,000 eligible Massachusetts voters are currently not registered.

The bill has popular and growing support in both legislative chambers, with 84 House co-sponsors and 22 Senate sponsors and received a public hearing before the Joint Committee on Election Laws last summer. The legislation is also endorsed by 61 organizations including environmental, civil rights, consumer, community, labor, and good government groups (see list below).

“The momentum for Automatic Voter Registration is building,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “We had a tremendous show of support today from organizations, individuals, and opinion leaders from every corner of our state who are passionate about giving all Bay Staters a voice in elections. AVR is a small change with a big impact that will make our election system more accurate, secure and efficient. It is critical for the legislature to pass it as soon as possible.”

“AVR removes obstacles to full participation in our democracy and moves us one step forward to ensuring that every eligible voter has a chance to have an equal voice in the political process,” added Meryl Kessler, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.

Carol Rose, executive director, ACLU of Massachusetts said, “Voting rights are under attack.  And, as we say in the streets, ‘What do we do? Stand up, fight back!’  With Washington aggressively peddling voter suppression, this is the time for states to be bold leaders in expanding access to the ballot for every eligible voter. Automatic Voter Registration will knock down an unnecessary barrier and simply let people vote.”

“Massachusetts has played a historic role in American democracy,” said Jonathan Cohn of Progressive Massachusetts. “It’s time for us to deliver on that democratic promise by joining the the ten other states (plus D.C.) that have adopted Automatic Voter Registration.”

“While there’s nothing automatic about passing Automatic Voter Registration into law, the momentum has been building with support from all corners of our state. We hope the Legislature will soon put our state in line with all the others which have already passed this important reform,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG.

“MassVOTE is proud to stand with the Coalition and so many grassroots supporters to continue urging the Legislator to pass this important piece of legislation,” MassVOTE’s Executive Director Cheryl Crawford added.

In Oregon, the first state to implement AVR, 230,000 voters registered in its first six months, and more than 265,000 inaccurate registrations were updated during the same period. About 97,000 voters participated in the 2016 election because of the reform. Ten states and the District of Columbia have already passed Automatic Voter Registration, all in a bipartisan manner: Oregon, California, West Virginia, Alaska, Vermont, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

The Election Modernization Coalition, which organized the Lobby Day, is led by Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters or Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, the ACLU of Massachusetts, and Progressive Massachusetts. A full list of organizations endorsing AVR can be found here, and more information about AVR can be found here.

Join Us for Automatic Voter Registration Lobby Day January 31

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts and our partners in the Election Modernization Coalition will be hosting a lobby day on January 31st to convince legislators to make Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) a top priority in 2018. Registration and training will take place in Room 428 in the State House (24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133). Registration begins at 9:30, and the program will run from 10:00-12:30.

AVR is the crucial next step in voting rights. It shifts our voter registration from an opt-in system to an opt-out one, involving more citizens in the political process. It also costs less in the long run and makes voter rolls more accurate and secure. Approximately 680,000 eligible citizens are currently not registered to vote in Massachusetts—Automatic Voter Registration could give them a voice in our democracy.

What is a lobby day? It’s a day when members of the public meet with their representatives at the State House to explain why an issue (in this case, AVR) is so important. We will spend an hour teaching you the tips and tricks to speaking with legislators before sending you off to attend scheduled meetings with your representatives to advocate for this vital reform.

SIGN UP HERE to participate in this lobby day: https://goo.gl/forms/6VlPBSsJ1Gm0NEEq2

January 2018 Scharfman Grants to Four Local Leagues

Four local Leagues received Daniel Scharfman Citizen Education grants in January 2018:

LWV Arlington: LWVA co-sponsors an annual Candidates’ Night with a Town of Arlington Committee called Vision 2020. LWVA is responsible for contacting/inviting candidates to attend the event where they present their ideas and respond to questions from attendees. The event, held in Arlington Town Hall and open to the public, covers local positions such as Selectmen, School Committee, Housing Authority, Town Clerk, etc. LWVA prepares the Voter’s Guide for Candidates’ Night, a printed pamphlet that contains a picture, brief biography and response to questions posed by LWVA for each candidate. LWVA is responsible for the cost of printing about 200 copies of the Voter’s Guide, which is available as a handout at Candidates’ Night, and also distributed to town libraries. LWVA also pays for the cost of sending a postcard to all Town Meeting candidates inviting them to Candidates’ Night, and for printing tent-style name tags placed on tables in front of candidates at the event.

LWV Boston: LWVB publishes an annual Guide to Elected and Appointed Officials. This request is to help toward the 2018 update. The intention is to print 2,500 and to distribute in a wide variety of paces including libraries,  local  community associations, neighborhood block watch groups, District City Councilors and in response to direct requests.

LWV Concord-Carlisle: LWVCC will host former Ambassador Wendy Sherman as its speaker on Sunday, January 21, 2018, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., at the Concord Academy Chapel, 166 Main Street, Concord, MA.  Ambassador Sherman will share her experiences and observations about our country’s international positions, with a local emphasis on civic education. Ambassador Sherman’s areas of expertise include Asia, economics, global affairs, North Korea nuclear program, security strategy, and international security and defense. Her travels and experiences in Russia, Syria, Iran, and other countries as an American ambassador on the world stage will enlighten the attendees with a global, yet local, perspective on democracy and public policy. This program will be free and open to the public. The program will be publicized and videotaped for later online access.

LWV Springfield: The city of Springfield is smarting from a series of high-profile cases of proven and alleged police misconduct, some involving brutality against minority citizens. In the wake of a particularly controversial case, the Springfield City Council called for the reinstatement of a civilian police commission to oversee the department. The mayor vetoed the council’s action and the two sides are at an impasse over a highly politicized issue. The controversy finds the public with little background knowledge to go on to understand the difficult question of how to oversee the Springfield Police Department and hold it accountable to the citizens. The Springfield LWV Unit has done research in the extensive and well-developed literature on available models of civilian oversight around the nation and will offer a series of four objective, educational community forums throughout the city in February to present the various oversight models and facilitate informed citizen discussion.The Springfield LWV Unit is training community facilitators in the National Issues Forums format, which it will utilize for these conversations.

 

 

Call-In Day of Action on Environment on January 17

A Call-In Day of Action has been organized by our climate coalition action partners for this Wednesday, January 17th. The goal is to report significant energy and climate change-related bills out of committee so they can move through the legislative process to a vote this session. 

Our task is to make sure through phone calls and social media posts that our legislators know we expect action on important bills.

Your call can be as simple and direct as asking that LWVMA-supported energy bills in the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) be voted favorably out of Committee by February 7th.

The environmental bills with especially high priority for this action are listed below:

S1821: An Act combatting climate change (Carbon Pricing)

H1726: An Act to promote green infrastructure, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs (Carbon Pricing)

S1876/H2700: An Act relative to enhancing RPS standards (Increase minimum use of renewable energy by electric utilities)

S1846/H2706: An Act relative to solar power and the green economy (Remove solar net metering cap)

S1875/H1725: An Act relative to local energy investment and infrastructure modernization (Modernize the electric grid)

You can find information about each bill listed in the Advocacy section of the LWVMA website under Environment-Energy and Resource Conservation. For more information about the bills or this action, contact Launa Zimmaro at lzimmaro@lwvma.org.  To find your legislators’ contact information, click here.