A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change
May | 2021
Message from the Steering Committee
A Message From This Month's Chair,
Jessica Ryan
In a year in which toxic politicization of…pretty much everything has reached a fever-pitch, I’d like to take the opportunity as a newer member of the League of Women Voters to express gratitude and solidarity for institutions like the League that hold fast to their non-partisan mandates and push back against the faux-outrage throngs that would have us declare everything from culture wars, clean air and water, pandemic response, to the very foundation of our democracy itself—voting rights! as left/right issues. 

These are strange days, but as Dorothy Day said, we must live as if the truth were true. Many pressing issues of the day transcend politics. Not everything is a moral dilemma. What we have are problems that need solutions. The necessity of clean air and water, a sustainable future for our children to realistically imagine continued habitation on this still-beautiful planet, and the right to vote are not identifiers of a political persuasion, but are clear and present concerns.

Organizations like the LWV offer a template to bring rigor back into the discussion, to examine issues, irrespective of their political claims or potential discomfort, and work towards policy programs based on careful study and discoverable truths. The discipline required by a non-partisan mandate tempers passions and allows people to listen to one another in good faith. I am encouraged by my fellow league members and inspired by the 100 years of work behind them. It’s not a perfect history, but when we live as if the truth were true we cannot avoid confronting, correcting, and advancing towards our more perfect union. 

We have work to do! so what better time to get started than at Annual Meeting?

Please join us for LWVA Annual Meeting: our pared-down, virtual annual agenda will include the basic elements of our League: the 2021-2022 proposed budget, election of new board members, and the re-adoption of our local and CT River Basin Inter-League Program Positions (2019 ed.)

~ Jessica Ryan
What You Need to Know

The Amherst Town Council is now accepting applications for the Districting Advisory Board (DAB), charged with reviewing the town's census data and population shifts, existing voting districts, and the redrawing of the town’s boundaries. The full description of the DAB can be found below:
LWVA urges members to consider volunteering for this 4-month committee. Applicants must be available during the summer months. A training session for appointed DAB members will be held in July. The 9-member DAB requires the appointment of at least one resident from each of Amherst’s 5 districts. Due to census delays and time pressures, the application process will not include interviews. Applicants will be contacted by a member of the Town Council’s Governance, Organization and Legislature Committee (GOL).

Applications and the Community Activity Form (CAF) is available here. Be sure to check the DAB box when applying:

Congressional District 2: May 24

Public hearings are scheduled for each of Massachusetts 9 Congressional Districts. Next up is Congressional District 2, which includes Amherst and Pelham, and is represented by Congressman Jim McGovern to be held on Monday, May 24 at 5:30 p.m.. Attendance at a hearing provides residents an opportunity to share their views on what the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting should consider as it redraws the political map, creates 9 congressional districts, and the state legislature’s 40 state senate districts and 160 representative districts.  The Joint Special Committee’s website is below:
People Powered Maps

On April 26, the national League’s “People Powered Day of Action” recorded participation by 300 Leagues and 100 events across the country educating and empowering people to participate in this year’s map drawing process.  

One of those included our Amherst League presentation on Redistricting 101 with Senator Stan Rosenberg and 18th Suffolk District State Representative Michael Moran.  For those who missed this informative and interesting event, it’s available on Amherst Media’s Ch. 17 broadcasting schedule and also available here to view:
Review the League of Women Voters official position on redistricting:
News from our Committees
LWVUS Supports 100% Clean Energy by 2035

On April 26th, LWVUS joined a broad-based group of over 150 local and national climate, health, faith, and clean energy organizations in support of the adoption of a 100% Clean Energy Standard as part of the sweeping infrastructure bill, the Jobs for Economic Recovery Act of 2021, pending in Congress.

A 100% clean energy standard would accelerate the transition to zero carbon power from the nation’s energy producers. Major power companies have indicated their support for working with the Administration to set a federal clean energy standard aimed at slashing emissions 80% by 2030. Including a clean energy standard provision in the infrastructure bill would be a game-changer for reducing health damaging pollution from energy generation, while boosting the production of clean, renewable energy and associated jobs for all. Read full letter below:
Bills of special interest to SACAC:

There has been increased interest in mosquito control this year as towns navigate the new procedure to opt-out of state spraying. In the meanwhile, the climate emergency demands that we think beyond our small town borders, which is why we must all ask our legislators to support the following bills:
H937/S556: An Act providing for the public health by establishing an ecologically based mosquito management program in the Commonwealth
You can find the bills in the house here, and now moving through the senate here with Senator Comerford's support. Click the "Petitioner" tab to find out if your legislators are supporting the bill so that you can call or write asking them to do so or to support their efforts.
Another important bill moving through the legislature is the Producer responsibility for paper and packaging:
An Act to Save Recycling Costs in the Commonwealth
The house bill, H.878 is found here, and the senate bill, S.610 here.
Please ask your legislators for support, or again, thank them for their efforts in navigating this planet towards a sustainable future.
The LWVMA website lists the bills being followed in the current legislature: 
Looking for pollinator plants! Amherst Area Friends of Pollinators is renovating the garden next to the old Hitchcock Center (near Common School) in Amherst, and we'll gladly take any native herbaceous or woody perennials you can spare. Also, let me know if you're interested in helping on volunteer workdays or participating in our educational and advocacy efforts to make the Amherst area a sanctuary for pollinators! Call 413.961.9059 or contact me by email (info@johnroot.net).
Dam relicensing on the Connecticut River

Five dams on the 410-mile long Connecticut River are currently undergoing federal relicensing (required for any dam that produces electricity). The last relicensing was in 1979, more than 40 years ago! That process required the three dams in Vermont/New Hampshire to install fish passage facilities. The two dams in Massachusetts subsequently also installed fish ladders; the Holyoke dam also installed a fish elevator. The current process began in 2012; when finalized the decisions to be made will last for 30-50 years. These are long lasting and very important decisions.

The five dams are: 
- Turners Falls dam, MA, FirstLight Power, 3 fishways, river mile 123
(from Long Island Sound)
- Northfield Mountain pump storage facility, First Light Power, river mile 128
- Vernon dam, VT/NH, TransCanada Hydro, one fishway, river mile 142
- Bellows Falls dam VT, TransCanada Hydro, one fishway, river mile 174
- Wilder dam, VT-NH, TransCanada, one fishway, river mile 217

FirstLight and TransCanada have submitted their Applications for Relicensing to FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission). Those applications have been challenged by organizations, including Connecticut River Conservancy and Massachusetts Rivers Alliance, tribal groups and individuals. Some of the many issues raised include: establishing adequate fish passage upstream and downstream, including installation of elevators at more dams; increasing public access to the river for boating and swimming; improving and expanding hiking and camping facilities; better access for disabled persons; improving water quality; measures to save river banks from erosion; measures to moderate river flow, among many others.

For all these issues, stay tuned. FERC will be scheduling public hearings this summer. This is an opportunity to make your views known, particularly if you have any particular experiences and knowledge related to these five existing dams. Your general thoughts about preserving and protecting the water and natural habitat in the watershed of this great New England river right in our backyard will be most welcome.

- Elizabeth Davis
VOTES Act Virtual Lobby Day on May 11 featured community activists and lead co-sponsors Senator Cindy Creem and Rep. John Lawn who urged voter advocates to contact our legislators. “The more they hear, the better our chances to pass this law.” 

You can help by contacting Rep. Mindy Domb at 617-722-2400 and Senator Jo Comerford at 617-722-1532!  Here are key elements for your message:

1.      Introduce yourself and be clear that you are a constituent (give your name and address).

2.      Explain you are calling in support of the VOTES Act (House 805/Senate 459) Thank them for being a co-sponsor!

3.      Tell them why the VOTES Act is important. It continues early voting and makes vote by mail permanent. Voters want this - 65% of voters last fall voted early or by mail.  It also enacts Same Day Voter Registration. 20 states and Washington, D.C. already offer this option which is especially important for first time voters. It will make voting more secure by requiring more frequent audits and mandating state membership in the Electronic Information Registration Center. 

4.    Ask them to ensure the VOTES Act gets to the floor with no changes so that it can be signed into law by Independence Day, July 4.  

Why make a phone call?  It’s fun! Plus, Freddie, our breakout room leader, says it’s harder for the legislator and staff to ignore a person on the phone.  Emails sometimes get filtered out, especially if the text matches a standard script. No one likes robo-messages!

~Bonnie Isman
Two Action Alerts on Health Bills:

Act to Support the Public Health Bill
This bill establishes a viable, functioning, and equitable community/local public health system. H.2329/S.1386, An act Relative to Accelerating Improvements in the Local and Regional Public Health System to Address Disparities in the Delivery of Public Health Services (SAPHE 2.0) mandates a public health system with processes to insure the laws and rules already in place in the Commonwealth are actually followed.
Please call/email your state representative and state senator asking they join their colleagues who have already signed on as sponsors to this bill. (More information here, see SAPHE 2.0).  

Act to Move Forward Medicare for All
The time has come. All people in the Commonwealth do not have equitable health care coverage. Please contact your state representative and state senator today. Ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor of H.1267/S.766 An Act establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts and work to bring the bill to the floor quickly. The discussion of the bill has to begin now to allow passage in the 192nd legislative session! Let’s do this!
LWVMA is pleased to announce this important, multi-state webinar on the Transportation and Climate Initiative and implications of TCI in our respective states and for the country! Join League members from CT, RI and MA, and advocates and experts on TCI for this special, tri-state League sponsored event to learn how we can all help reduce pollution that causes respiratory diseases such as asthma while investing equitably in modern, clean, regional transportation solutions. MA has been a leader in supporting TCI in the region. Rhode Island and Connecticut are at critical points in advancing the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) in their states.TCI is designed to benefit anyone who breathes air in the region, but especially children and those who live in environmental justice communities who are disproportionately impacted by air pollution. TCI is seen as a model for the country as a plan to address the deadly, heat-trapping emissions of air pollution from the transportation sector - one of the largest sources of emissions in the region and the country. We hope to see you there!

Event: The Transportation and Climate Initiative: Improving The Regional Economy and Health For All
When: Thursday, May 20th, 2021 from 4:00-5:00p.m. 

Cosponsors: League of Women Voters of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, Transportation Team of LWV US Climate Interest Group, The Acadia Center, Ceres, Green Energy Consumer Alliance, and Transportation for Massachusetts

Learn more about TCI ahead of time:

~League Leaders
June 26, 9:30a.m.–2:00p.m.

LWVMA’s virtual Convention is open to all members.  Expanding the Table: Making Democracy Work for Everyone” will be on Saturday, June 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with an hour lunch break.  Check the Convention website for plans for the event and to register:
Watch Winning Student Videos in LWVMA's "Democracy Challenge"

LWVMA invited Massachusetts high school students to create 30-second videos demonstrating what they learned about our democracy in 2020. Winning videos were selected from a group of 125 entries from across the Commonwealth. Judges scored each video on criteria including clarity of message, memorability, presentation, and creativity. The winners will receive awards of $500 (first place); $250 (second place); and $100 (third place).
First Place: “Democracy Will Persist” by Caitlin Duffy, The Academy at Penguin Hall
Second Place: “United is Power” by Maya Baudrand, Stoneleigh Burnham School
Third Place: “Stand Up” by Julia Valanzola, The Academy at Penguin Hall
Additionally, LWVMA wishes to recognize Wellesley High School with our Catalyst Award for their extraordinary participation in the “Democracy Challenge” contest. Wellesley H.S. students submitted 25 videos! You can watch them here: 
June 2nd LWV 2021 Congressional Panel

On June 2, the League of Women Voters of the United States will be hosting an engaging discussion on what lies ahead for American Democracy. As the League celebrates and acknowledges all the hard fought and crucial successes of our first 100 years, we now find ourselves asking: what’s next?
We are excited to welcome League members to join the conversation around what the nature of democracy will look like in the next 100 years. Keep a look out for more information and registration links! (From the League Update of May 6)

The May 6 League Update lists three Action Alerts:

The links bring you to pre-written letters.
Statehood for D.C., as the third action alert indicates, is an important issue for LWVUS. A recent blog post explains why:
LWVUS runs a highly-regarded monthly webinar on a DEI topic. May’s topic is 
“Explore how all generations can learn from each other and use different working styles and life experiences to strengthen our work.” Interested? Register for this webinar, on May 27 at 7 p.m. (and LWVUS webinars end promptly) below:

This monthly message is for anyone interested in the League, not just members. If you know someone who might be interested, forward this message and invite them to subscribe themselves, using the link below.
The Editor of the LWVAmherst e-Bulletin, Jessica Ryan can be contacted here. The Associate Editors are Trish Farrington and Susan Millinger; Assistant Editors are Janice Ratner, Phyllis Lehrer, and Kay Fite who checks the links. Contributors to the May 2021 e-Bulletin include LWVA members Elizabeth Davis, Bonnie Isman, Susan Millinger, and Adrienne Terrizzi. Material on LWVMA and LWVUS comes from the website lwvma.org and the newsletter League Update, respectively, selected by Susan Millinger.