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 League of Women 
 Voters of Berrien 
 & Cass Counties
March, 2018
Newsletter

Migrant Worker Access to 
Driver's License or ID
      
On Wednesday, March 21, LWVBCC will host a public forum on a question of considerable importance to our agricultural community-farmers, seasonal workers, 
consumers of the fruits and vegetables they produce, and everyone affected by the  impact of agriculture on the economy of our region.
   The focus of the forum, at 1:00 p.m. in the Community Room at the Niles District  Library, is whether Michigan driver's licenses and identification cards should be  available to applicants regardless of their immigration status, or only to people who are  "lawfully present."
     Participants in the forum will include Rep. Dave Pagel, a Berrien County farmer who  represents the 78th District in the Michigan legislature and introduced a bill that directly  addresses the question; Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey; Theresa Hendricks,  Executive Director of Migrant Legal Aid in Grand Rapids; and someone from the Berrien  County Farm Bureau.
     At the conclusion of the public forum, members of LWVBCC will be invited,  through a process called consensus, to vote on whether, in their view, LWV Michigan's  position on the question should be revised. Your input is important. Please come.
Looking Ahead 
     Voter services--registering voters, holding candidate forums, and providing information on candidates and issues through Vote411.org--is a top priority for LWVBCC in an election year. This time, we anticipate a particularly active schedule from May through November.
      We know there will be a primary contest in one or both parties for the positions of (a) U.S. Congressman from the 6th District, (b) Michigan State Senator from the 21st District, (c) State Repre-sentative from the 78th District, and (d) State Representative from the 79th District. That suggests that we may host a number of forums for candidates in primary elections scheduled for August 7. After that, if history is our guide, we will hold forums for candidates for election to several offices--those just mentioned plus State Representative from the 59th District,  judges, mayors, and candidates for multiple positions in the November 6 general election. The list could be long, indeed. Until filing deadlines pass--still weeks in the future for some positions--we cannot know how many contested races there will be. Already, though, it looks like a lot.
      On top of those public forums, we will continue efforts to register as many new voters as we can in as many venues as possible. Registration deadlines are July 9 for the August 7 primary, and October 9 for the November 6 general election. And we provide and distribute information through Vote411. All of these efforts are motivated by an important goal: doing what we can to keep our democracy strong through an informed and active electorate.
      We welcome your help in all of these efforts. Please contact any Board member or get in touch by email to lwvbcc@gmail.com.
President's Message

Marilyn
     Just ahead are once-in- a-century opportunities to celebrate events at the core of LWV's mission: voting. 
     In 1920, after decades of, struggle, women throughout the United States finally could vote because the Constitution, through the 19th Amendment, now, at last, said they could.
     Michigan had been ahead of the game by a couple of years, granting women suffrage through an amendment to the State Constitution in 1918. 
     With this history, Michigan also became one of the first states to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S.Constitution, which says a lot in just two sentences: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
      The vigor, tenacity, and duration of the struggle for women's suffrage make a compelling story. That history is getting a new look through a book that is being released this month (March 6): The Woman's Hour, by Elaine Weiss. In cooperation with Forever Books in St. Joseph, LWVBCC plans to host Ms Weiss at a meeting in September (date yet to be determined) that will be open to the public. 
      If you would like to help plan this event, please come to a meeting at Judy Scully's house at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 29. (Put it on your calendar.)
      Then next month, the LWVBCC book group will discuss The Woman's Hour at its next meeting (10:00 a.m. April 16, at a place to be announced in next month's newsletter. Put that on your calendar now, too.)  
Guns
      It's happened again. Another mass shooting. More innocent people dead. More families and friends devastated. More people permanently scarred physically and emotionally. Another assault weapon designed for war but used to kill children.
     Almost 30 years ago (1990), LWV, through its process of concurrence,  adopted a position on gun control. Then LWV members, based on that position, began  advocating for a legislative ban on semi-automatic assault weapons plus a five-day
waiting period and background checks for purchase of handguns.1
     Congress enacted significant controls in the early 1990s. But in this century, the  trend has been the reverse. When the 1994 assault weapons ban expired in 2004,  LWV, with others, advocated for its extension. But rather than extend controls,  Congress let the assault weapons ban expire without renewal or replacement and at the
same time passed legislation that immunized gun manufacturers from lawsuits. So  that's where we are now.
     But this time, maybe--just maybe--the carnage in Parkland, Florida can trigger  change. Because this time, those Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students are  speaking out passionately, eloquently, and fearlessly. Soon they will be old enough to  vote. And they will.
      Just this week, Judy Karandjeff, LWV Michigan President, put it thus:  "Democracy trembles without trust. Join your fellow Leaguers-back sensible gun  reform-to keep democracy strong." Those Parkland students are showing us how.
______________________________
1 See the position (modified 1994 & 1998)  by clicking here .
Education Committee
      Free public education is a fundamental right. For decades, we assumed that education would be in a safe environment-an assumption now challenged by story after story--way too many stories--of tragedy visited on students, families, and communities within the halls of learning.
     We think first of guns. But there are other threats, as well. One is human trafficking. That threat will be the subject of a Human Trafficking Forum at the Bridgman High School Media Center at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday March 22. It is open to the public, and the Education Committee encourages you to attend.
     You also are encouraged to attend the next meeting of the LWVBCC Education Committee at noon on Tuesday, March 20, at Coach's restaurant, 2258 Glenlord Road in Stevensville. The committee will welcome your help in planning for an upcoming event in the spring, before the end of the school year.
Environmental Tidbits
      Having been in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, recently, I was intrigued to learn of a movement to remove plastic straws from the environment. On returning home, I became aware that the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is also promoting removing straws from use. The Aquarium's efforts were recognized by the Illinois Recycling Association in 2015, when the Shedd received its award for the outstanding non-profit recycling and waste reduction program.
     They ask that we join them in making the aquatic environment cleaner and safer for the animals we all love. Take a pass on plastic straws!
     One of my own particular concerns is the extensive use of plastic bags and the sometimes extravagant packaging on so many products. Packagers of "cuties" could easily eliminate half the plastic they use. Cosmetic products are often packaged in such a way that we believe we're getting much more than we are.
     Please, any time you get a product you believe could be packaged in a more environmentally friendly way, call the manufacturer to voice your opinion. 
     And please, also, continue to call your elected officials on all issues of concern to you. Thank you.                    -- Chris Zilke
Hunger 
Linda Strohl
Linda Strohl
     People hunger not only for food, but also for human contact. Meals on Wheels of  Southwest Michigan, according to Linda Strohl, its Executive Director and longtime  LWVBCC member, provides both.      
     The benefits extend well beyond free meals, through reduced health care costs.
Each $1 spent on food assistance, she said, saves $50 in Medicaid expenses for illnesses related to hunger.
     With help from caring volunteers, Meals on Wheels delivers healthful meals to homebound seniors, enabling them to remain in their homes, as they want to do and as they could not without such nutrition services. In addition, the organization provides meals at senior centers in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties.
     Strohl spoke at a public meeting in the conference room at the Berrien County Health Department, where she is a member of the Board, on February 21. 
     If you missed it, you can watch the video: by clicking here.
You also can access it through our website: click here.
     Strohl said Meals on Wheels enjoys bipartisan support in Michigan. That's for a good reason: It has earned it.  And yet there are concerns about a possible reduction in  governmental financial support. That explains the second part in the title of Ms. Strohl's  talk: "Hunger Is a Health Issue; and Your Vote Matters."
Committee Coordinators
Energy and the Environment : Chris Zilke
Health and Social Services: Judy Scully
Public Education: Linda Cheek & Jane Raymond
Voter Services : Mike McCaffrey & John Ripley
Budget and Finance: Mike McCaffrey, John Ripley, Chris Zilke
Membership: Marilyn Klawiter & Mike McCaffrey
Nominating: Karen Ristau
Special Events: Chris Zilke
Non-Partisan Policy
The League as an organization does not support or oppose any political party, candidate for elected office, or any group that supports candidates. As individuals, though, but not as representatives of the League, members are encouraged to participate in political activity and to run for office.  Our non-partisan policy does require two Board members--the President and the Voter Service Chair--to totally abstain from partisan political activity.  

LWVBCC: Contact Us

P.O. Box 1032
Niles, MI 49120

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Calendar/Notes
Tuesday, March 13
League Board Meeting
1:00 p.m. 
Board Room
Niles District Library
620 E. Main St., Niles
269-683-8545
_______________________
Tuesday, March 20
Education Committee Mtg. 
Coach's Restaurant
Noon
2258 Glenlord Rd.
Stevensville
_______________________ 
Wednesday, March 21
General Consensus Mtg.
Studying Seasonal Workers 
and Drivers' Licenses
Niles District Library
1:00 p.m.
Community Room
620 E. Main St., Niles
269-683-8545
 
_______________________ 
Thursday, March 22
Human Trafficking Forum
Bridgman High School Media       Center
6:30 p.m.
_______________________
Thursday, March 29
Planning special event in Sept. w/author of new book on women's suffrage
5:00 p.m.
Home of Judy Scully
Call 
269-469-5430 if you plan to attend.
_______________________
Tuesday, Apr. 10
League Board Meeting
1:00 p.m. 
Lincoln Township Library
2099 W. John Beers Road Stevensville 
  
 
_____________________
April 16, 2018
Book Group
Location TBA
10:00 a.m.
"The Woman's Hour:The Great Fight To Win The Vote"

LWVBCC
Board of Directors
Marilyn Klawiter, President
Dorothy Parker, Vice President
Karen Ristau,  Secretary
John Ripley, Treasurer
Linda Cheek
Kathleen Fleming
Michael McCaffrey
Jane Raymond
Judy Scully
Christiana Zilke

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