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Category: Front Page News

June 2 Deadline for Local League Grants

The Trustees of the LWVMA Lotte E. Scharfman Education Fund (LESF) have scheduled an additional funding cycle for the Citizen Education Grant Program. The deadline for submission of the grant application is June 2, and the money would be dispersed no later than mid-July.

The additional funding cycle was added primarily because the first fall deadline (2013) will be October 1, with payments disbursed at the end of October. While the grant committee felt this date will allow Leagues to hold their first fall board meeting before the deadline, it may be late for those Leagues planning early fall events or projects. Leagues can submit an application June 2 for planned early fall activities.

Click here for guidelines, application, and summaries of the approved grants.

LWVUS Joins Groups in Letter on Campaign Finance Reform

The League of Women Voters of the United States sent a strong letter to President Obama co-signed by Americans for Campaign Reform, the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, and Public Citizen. It starts, “We are writing to express our deep concern about the nation’s corrupt campaign finance system and about your failure, to date, as President to provide meaningful leadership or take effective action to solve this fundamental problem facing our democracy.”

To read the entire letter click here.

LWVMA Testifies on Paper Ballots, Sex Education

LWVMA testified recently at hearings on bills to insure the Commonwealth uses paper ballots and to institute medically-accurate, age-appropriate health education, including sex education, in the schools.

Carole Pelchat, vice president, program and action, spoke at a May 14 hearing of the Joint Committee on Education in support of S.209 and H.450, An Act relative to healthy youth.  The bills are sponsored by Sen. Katherine Clark and Rep. James O’Day.

In written testimony to the committee, LWVMA stated, “S.209 and H.450 offer both good public policy and equal access by ensuring that children everywhere in the state will get an age-appropriate education in all health-related issues, including those related to sex education. They also uphold the existing state law that lets parents opt-out their children from sex education programs.” Read the full testimony.

Linda Freedman, specialist on elections and voting rights, testified May 15 at a hearing of the Joint Committee on Election Laws in support of S.324 – An Act requiring a paper ballot and H.600 – An Act to ensure secure voting equipment.

She noted that “paper ballots are readily recountable and necessary for an accurate audit of the vote,” and that, while Massachusetts currently uses paper ballots, a law is necessary to prevent any move away from paper ballots. Read the full testimony.


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.

LWVMA Supports Graduated Income Tax

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts supports a proposed Constitutional amendment allowing for a graduated income tax in the state. A hearing on the amendment legislation, S.17, was held by the Joint Committee on Revenue on April 2.  The bill is sponsored by Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg, with co-sponsors Rep. Peter V. Kocot and Rep. Jason M. Lewis.

The bill would amend the state Constitution to change the state income tax from a single flat rate to graduated rates, “so that higher rates are imposed on taxpayers in higher income brackets and lower rates on those in lower income brackets,” according to the text of the bill.

June Michaels, the state League’s specialist on fiscal policy, noted that a fixed rate income tax is regressive, with a higher burden on those least able to afford it. “A graduated income tax would raise sufficient revenue, provide tax relief for lower and middle income families and allow for greater flexibility in our overall tax structure,” Michaels said.

Under the proposed amendment, the legislature would be responsible for creating tax brackets and setting the tax rate scale.

For the LWVMA testimony on S.17, click here.