May Opportunities for Action
Elections and Voting:

Automatic Voter Registration: The Election Modernization Coalition, which includes LWVMA, has a new information flyer  on Automatic Voter Registration (AVR). Please send a copy to your state Representative and ask that this bill, H.4320, be brought to the floor for a vote. Three more states have just passed AVR -- Maryland, Washington and New Jersey -- bringing the total to 13. Massachusetts should be next!
 
Help Draft Voters' Guide Questions: LWVMA will introduce a new Online Voters' Guide to voters throughout Massachusetts for the 2018 state primary and general elections.  The guide will allow Massachusetts voters to access personalized ballot information for all candidates on the ballot plus all the ballot questions.

We need volunteers to develop questions for the candidates and about the ballot questions. If you are interested, please volunteer by May 31, so we can develop questions in June, submit to the candidates in late June, and prepare the Voters' Guide for its July 20 debut. Contact Judy Zaunbrecher or Kris Eastman to volunteer.

Education:

Civics Education: The civics education bill to develop a K-12 curriculum on civic engagement passed the Senate in March and is now in the House Rules Committee. Please contact your representative and ask that S.2375 be brought to the floor for a vote.
 
Reforming the Foundation Budget: The Foundation Budget formula that determines how state aid to school districts will be allocated needs to be updated. S. 2325 will implement reforms suggested by the 2015 Foundation Budget Review Committee. A fact sheet on the bill is here . This bill is currently in the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Ask your state Senator to urge that S.2325 come to the floor for a vote.
 
Sex Education Bill: The Healthy Youth Act, H.3704, to bring age-appropriate and factually accurate sex education to schools, remains in the Joint Committee on Education with a deadline of May 16 to report it out of committee. Contact your Senator and Representative and let them know it is past time to provide our young people with information about healthy relationships and that you support this bill and want it to pass this session.     

Gun Control:

Mother's Day Walk for Peace: Join LWVMA and the Massachusetts Coalition against Gun Violence in the 22nd annual Mother's Day Walk for Peace to support the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute and families who have lost loved ones to violence. The march begins Sunday, May 12, at noon at the Town Field Park, Fields Corner, 1520 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester. Click here  for more information and to register.
 
Environment:

Toxic Flame Retardants: H.1245 and S.1175, which would ban the sale of children's products and upholstered furniture that contain toxic flame retardants in the state, need a push. These chemicals are dangerous to children and to firefighters, and have already been banned by 13 states. Safer and more effective alternatives are available. This ban almost passed in the last session. It's time to get rid of these chemicals. Ask your Representative to urge that H.1245 be reported out of the Joint Committee on Public Health by the May 9 deadline. Ask your Senator to urge that S.1175, now in Senate Ways & Means, be brought to the floor for a vote.
 
Land Conservation: Please contact your Senator and ask for support for an amendment to the Senate Ways and Means Committee budget which would increase the annual cap for the Conservation Land Tax Credit (CLTC) program. Last week the House unanimously approved such an amendment, which covers many provisions in H.3855.  
               
The amendment would:
  • Raise the annual cap of the CLTC program from $2 million to $5 million per year - an increase of $1 million per year for the next three years. There is currently a $3.3 million backlog and many landowners cannot afford to wait until 2020 to sell their property.  The state could collaborate with private landowners to conserve land for farming, forestry, wildlife and clean water.
  • Amend the definition of "public or private conservation agency" which may receive donations of land subject to a conservation tax credit to include realty trusts organized for conservation.
Transportation:

Bicycle Safety:  Two omnibus bills, H.4421 and S.2362, An act to reduce traffic fatalities, with measures to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety, have been reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Transportation and are now separately in the House and Senate Ways & Means Committees.   Please contact your Representative and Senator and ask them to support these bills to make all road users safer.        

Women's Issues:
 
Women's Advocacy Day May 16: Join the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women's lobby day Wednesday, May 16, in the Great Hall at the State House to lobby for women's issues including equality in disability insurance and family leave.

The schedule is: registration and coffee 9:30-10:30 a.m.; speakers 10:30-11:30 a.m.; visit legislators 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; and report back and lunch, 1-2 p.m. Register here.

2020 US Census:

Citizenship Question: He lp stop the U.S. Commerce Department from adding a question on citizenship status to the 2020 Census. Sign the LWVUS petition  here to call on Congress to take action and correct this issue before it's too late. You can share the petition on Facebook and on  Twitter .
 
Constitutional Convention Webinar:

Dangers of a Constitutional Convention: An effort to alter the U.S. Constitution through a Constitutional convention is being considered in many state legislatures. Many leading conservative and progressive groups, scholars, economists, lawmakers, and policy experts oppose a Constitutional convention because of the potential for unintended consequences. Join LWVUS on Wednesday, May 2 at 3 p.m. to learn more about this issue and the efforts supported by the League to stop this threat to our democracy. 

Progress Update:  Action on LWVMA bills since mid-April 

 

Bills reported favorably from committee and awaiting a vote in the first chamber:
  • S.48 To raise the age at which a child is subject to juvenile court jurisdiction from 7 to 12
  • H.3610 To permit temporarily removing firearms from dangerous or suicidal individuals, the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill
  • H.2877, now H.4421 To improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians
  • H.2474/S.1169 To create an advanced level of dental therapist 
How to Contact Your Legislator:  
   
You can find phone numbers, email addresses and office addresses on the legislature's web page for your Senator and Representative. Go to www.malegislature.gov and click on the Legislators tab. If you don't know who your legislators are, click here.
 
The LWVMA Action Newsletter is distributed to all LWVMA members. Anyone can request the Action Newsletter by clicking here. Please review this Newsletter for articles of interest to your League and include them in your local Bulletin.

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