League of Women Voters of NYS

 STATE VOTER

March 2019

Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.



From the State President
  
It's finished!  No, not the Mueller investigation, though I'm sure you've been paying attention to that.  I'm talking about  our centennial history book titled "A Force to Reckon With."  We've read through it one last time to catch typos and other small mistakes, but it's now out of our hands and on schedule to be ready for a formal drop at our June convention. We hope it will be ready before that for some of your local League activities in May, but we can't yet guarantee that. Stay tuned.
 
  A separate less formal publication documenting local League histories is now our focus. Let us know asap if you meant to share your League's history but missed the deadline. No promises, but we will see what we can do. 
 
  This book would not have been possible without an early generous gift from Emily and Eugene Grant, long-time League members in the Larchmont-Mamaroneck League. (Sadly Eugene has since died just short of his 100th birthday.) Since then gifts from small foundations, past and current League leaders, and most recently the New York State Women's Suffrage Commission have helped us cover the research and writing of the book - much of that done by professionals at Mount Ida Press. We are so grateful for this financial support as well as all the volunteer hours the book represents.

Planning is now afoot for ways to share the book across the state . If you'd like to hold a book party or other celebratory and sales event, let us know. One member pointed out that copies of the book make great gifts for departing board members. We welcome other such ideas.
 
  A book like this is also a reminder to all of us that every day we are making history. We need to make sure we are taking note and celebrating as we go. Our final thanks go to all those over the last century who left a record that made this book - and your local histories - possible. 
 
  One way over the years we've made a record is through awards at our state convention. Has YOUR local League submitted your award-worthy activities? Look for details here and on our website and maybe we'll be applauding your League's efforts in June!
  
Dare Thompson, President
League of Women Voters of NYS
darethompson@gmail.com; Tel: 518-465-4162
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS
IN THIS ISSUE
Travel with the League
Click here  for trips and itineraries.
Advocacy Training Day in Albany - April 30 - Cancelled
State Convention is Coming!
Advocacy
Sally Robinson, sally.s.robinson@gmail.com
Campaign Finance Reform Testimony
Laura Ladd Bierman, LWVNYS Executive Director, presented testimony on Wednesday in support of public financing of elections and other campaign finance reforms. The testimony was presented to the NYS Senate Elections Committee in response to proposals for funding in the state budget. See the testimony here

Action Alerts
The state League issued two Action Alerts last week concerning budget issues: the first asked members to contact their legislators to urge funding for early voting and other new voting reforms; the second urged funding for public financing of elections. See the Action Alert here (and you can still contact your legislators as the budget hasn't passed yet).

The state League also participated in a press conference today (see photo on right) to urge funding for early voting and other new voting reforms. See the video of the conference here.  

Equal Pay Day is April 2nd
(By Barb Thomas, LWVNYS Women's Issues Specialist)
According to laws already on the books, Equal Pay Day for ALL Women should be December 31. But it's not. The average woman must work far into the next year to earn what the average man earned the previous year.

It takes until April 2nd for women who work full-time to catch up with their male counterparts; mom's equal pay compared to dad's happens on June 10; black women reach parity on August 22; and equal pay day for Latinas is observed on Nov. 20. There are wide wage gaps among Asian women, so some catch up by March 5 but others not until mid-July.

The wage gap starts at the beginning of a woman's career and multiples over time. Indeed, right out of college, women experience a 7% wage gap. Females are often pushed into lower paying jobs and job titles that allow women to be paid less for substantially equal work. The pay gap can begin even earlier as teens. According to a 2018 analysis, boys earn on average twice what girls earn for chores.

Collectively women in New York State lose $17 billion dollars a year due to the pay gap. This hurts women and their families, but it also hurts the communities they support: local businesses are hurt through lost sales, as are local schools and governments that depend upon sales tax and property tax dollars to fund the programs and the infrastructure those communities need to exist.

Change needs to happen but there is good news. Our state legislature and governor have the opportunity to pass game-changing laws this session. And, Congress may finally move forward on common sense reform. That will only happen if we all speak out, contact our elected representatives (not in the League's name, but your own), and call for equal pay for all New York women, now.

Court Reform Comes Alive! 
(By  Elizabeth "Libby" Hubbard, member of the Huntington League and former Judicial Chair and State President of the LWVNYS)

Progress toward a major goal of a venerable Action Item appears achievable, beginning in the 2019 session of the new State Legislature-and that is Court Simplification. The LWV in New York has worked for this since the 1950s-yes the 1950s! Along the way, we have had important successes in improving how the state court system functions and serves the public-Merit Selection of the Court of Appeals, centralized financing and administration of the courts and establishing the Commission on Judicial Conduct, but reducing the number of separate trial courts from 11 to 3 has so far eluded us.
 
I'll only cite one reason among many why this particular goal is so important: the Family Court, where women and children have critical parts of their lives determined, is a "lower" court and receives many more cases but much less funding than the "higher" Supreme Court, which deals with wealthier clients and their civil cases. If they were one and the same court, this would not be the case.
 
The State League (and the LWVNYC) are members of a growing Coalition, led by The Fund for Modern Courts, which will work on passage of a Constitutional Amendment to finally bring court simplification to NYS. The Chief Judge of the State and the major Bar Associations will be at our side.
Women's History Projects
Joan Johnson, jaj62@twcny.rr.com; and Barb Thomas, bkoeppicust@gmail.com
LWVNY asks every NYS League to participate in a statewide visibility event.
What: All you have to do is recruit a member read the Declaration of Sentiments on July 4, 2019 at an appropriate location in your area. We ask your reader to wear white and wear the LWV sash.
 
Why: To call attention to the League of women Voters and our continuing fight to Make Democracy Work. More than 100 years ago on July 4, 1915 suffragists read the Declaration of Sentiments in front every County Courthouse in this state, in an event organized by Carrie Chapman Catt to call attention to the campaign for women's suffrage in NYS.
 
Click here for a suggested script including the full Declaration of Sentiments.
 
LWVNY will send out press advisories and press releases, and also provide a sample press release and Letter to the Editor for you to send. You can add any embellishments you desire to enhance the reading such as adding this to a local community event, a picnic, a parade, music, whatever, BUT we implore you to at least carry through with the reading.  
Local League News
LWV of Brookhaven is hosting a program entitled, "Brookhaven in Suburbia - How Has It Changed?" with speaker Lawrence Levy, Dean of National Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.

League volunteers from LWV of Buffalo/Niagara welcomed a total of 353 new citizens at the most recent six naturalization ceremonies. With the assistance of Bob Hellwitz from the Erie County Board of Elections, 337 of them have been registered to vote - that's a return of more than 95% of voter registration forms. Kudos to all!

LWV of Chautauqua held a meeting about medical cannabis. Speaker Kevin Harbison Pharmacist, and manager of the PharmCannis Amherst dispensary, presented an informative program on New York State medical marijuana program and clarified the use of medical marijuna in the treatment of various serious conditions.

The League of Mid-Hudson is conducting studies of the various ways in which Ulster County, Dutchess County, and its local municipalities share and might further share some of the services provided to their citizens.

As one of their "Hot Topics Breakfasts," LWV of Rivertowns hosted a program on "Election Law: Unfinished Business." The speaker was John Nonna, Westchester County Attorney.

LWV of Saratoga, in its third program in their Democracy Series, is modeled after TED Talks. Selected 'talkers' from the community will present their perspectives on various aspects of making democracy work. A fun night when our neighbors will educate us about what's at stake if we don't pay attention.

LWV of Syracuse resumed their First Wednesday Luncheons at Tony's Restaurant. Over 25 members and friends of the League heard from our Board of Elections Commissioners, Michele Sardo and Dustin Czarny, about what the new election reforms mean to Onondaga County voters and what we can expect this election season.

LWVNYS Executive Director, Laura Ladd Bierman, and President of the NYS Social Studies Supervisery Association, Lisa Kissinger, presented the civics lesson plans to over 25 members of the LWV of Utica/Rome and teachers from the surrounding school districts.

Join the LWV of NYC as it organizes a new LWVNYC committee focused on  criminal justice . This committee will research pending NYS legislation and organize advocacy and lobbying work around this important issue.

League of Women Voters of New York State
62 Grand Street, Albany, NY 12207
Tel: 518-465-4162;  FAX: 518-465-0812
Website: www.lwvny.org
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS
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