Co-Presidents' Message

Dear Massachusetts League Members,
 
Last week's Day on the Hill gathering reminded us of the impact we can have on the legislative process, and of the work that we still need to do. Our legislative specialists have been busy providing testimony at many hearings, and urging legislators to act on the bills that matter to us in areas of election reform, climate change, women's health, criminal justice, equitable education funding and more.
 
Many of you who live in our Massachusetts cities, including some of our newest Leagues, are providing essential information about candidates and issues through forums leading up to the November city elections. These efforts engage voters and remind them that their participation in civic life is essential.
 
Please be sure to check out the 100 Years Strong video below - there is so much joy in our working together. Thank you for your support!
 
Mary Ann and Judy


In League,





Mary Ann Ashton and  Judy Zaunbrecher
LWVMA Co-Presidents


HAPPENING NOW 
LWVUS Launches Nationwide Fair Maps Campaign

By Judy Zaunbrecher, LWVMA Co-President

The national League of Women Voters has kicked off the People Powered
Fair Maps Campaign, a nationwide campaign to reform redistricting on a state-by-state basis, once and for all. The U.S. Supreme Court's disappointing decision in the Rucho case failed to take a stand for voters and establish limits for when partisan gerrymandering goes too far. That decision, plus the 2013 Supreme Court decision that gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, has left the field wide open to politicians to draw districts and to suppress the vote for partisan purposes. The end result of these tactics is large swaths of voters are left with a government that does not reflect their views and values nor is it responsive to their voices and needs.
 
In response, the League has launched a nationwide campaign signed on by all 50 state Leagues plus the District of Columbia League to reform redistricting at a state level. Read more...
100 Years Strong--Support LWVMA and Your Local League!

LWVMA Is 100 Years Strong!

Our League's many successes in Massachusetts are thanks to your work and your contributions to our organization. We are advocating for Election Day registration, climate crisis solutions, women's health, equitable education funding and more. Our voter engagement work ensures that voters have the information they need to make informed decisions about candidates and issues. We are also nurturing the startup of several new Leagues around the state, providing local activists with a non-partisan path to civic engagement.

Now we need your help to sustain our organization as we grow into the next 100 years. By supporting our Fall Appeal, you will enable the essential work of LWVMA and earn money for your own League.  If we receive your donation of $100 or more by Thursday, Oct. 31, your local League will receive 15% of your donation; for donations of less than $100 received by Oct. 31, your local League will receive 10%. And if you donate now, you won't be called during our Phonathon later this year.

To donate online,  please click here. To donate by mail, please print and enclose this  form with your check. 
Local League 100th Anniversary Fall Events

All local Leagues and League members have 100th anniversaries to celebrate! The three anniversaries in 2020 are the League of Women Voters, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, and the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. LWV of Boston is also celebrating its 100th anniversary.
 
Local Leagues are using the anniversaries to recognize the achievements of women, share the accomplishments of the League, reflect on the past as a springboard to current issues, and explore the fascinating history of the women's suffrage movement and birth of the League. Local League events and exhibits are presented in our  100th Anniversary Calendar .
 
Coming up at local Leagues this fall:
Details about each event, and events through the winter and spring, are available in the 100th Anniversary Calendar.

Oct. 30
Newton After Suffrage: A 20/20 Perspective on Women's Rights 1920-2020 at Newton Free Library
Nov. 3 Needham "We Did It For You! Women's Journey Through History" (ticketed event) at Needham Town Hall
Nov. 18 Boston Celebration of the Boston League's 100th Anniversary at Boston City Hall

To view the full calendar, local League Toolkit, and 100 Reasons videos, go to the  100th Anniversary web page . To add your League's event or exhibit to the calendar; email 100thanniversary@lwvma.org .
ELECTIONS & VOTING
LWVMA Voter Engagement Committee in Gear

The LWVMA board has launched a voter engagement committee, adopting that name in place of the former voter service name. Four LWVMA directors are currently on the committee:   Lee Bona (Worcester) and Tanya Roy (Wellesley), co-chairs, joined by Elizabeth Foster-Nolan (member-at-large) and Judy Zaunbrecher (Concord-Carlisle).

The voter engagement committee will oversee the annual student video contest, training/support for local Leagues planning a forum or debate, and policy review to start. The committee is forming subcommittees to achieve their goals, and encourages members who are interested in working on one of these subcommittees to contact its chair:

Media and Toolkits - Review and update voter service toolkits. Contact Tanya Roy if you'd like to commit to at least one year's service, most of which will be through online meetings to discuss content, design and distribution.

Moderator Training and Support - Elizabeth Foster-Nolan has already set up a google group and is in the process of surveying current moderators on training, mentoring, and meeting as a support group.

Naturalization Ceremonies - Lee Bona has communicated with representatives from the seven local Leagues who have staffed 17 ceremonies held in 2019, and a meeting is planned. Contact Lee Bona if you or your Leagues are interested in naturalization ceremonies.
LWVUS Proposes an Electoral Systems Position

The LWVUS board has recommended a concurrence on an Electoral Systems position that will be voted on at the national 2020 convention June 25-28.  The concurrence will be presented to local Leagues as part of program planning work for the convention.  This proposed concurrence is not a study; it is a fully-formed position based on the language of many state and local LWV positions, which were arrived at following state and local studies. 
 
The national board asked a committee to develop this position because the LWV has positions on a multitude of public policy issues decided by our elected representatives, however, we do not have a position on how we elect the representatives that make those public policy decisions.  The board notes that this method of developing a position is a pilot project as the LWVUS Board explores new ways to adopt and/or update LWVUS positions. 
 
The proposed position in brief states:  Support electoral systems at each level of government that encourage participation, are verifiable and auditable and enhance representation for all voters.  For the full position, a glossary of terms, and pro and con arguments, click here.
LWVUS Offers Guidance on 2020 Census Work

A complete and accurate count in the 2020 U.S. Census is critically important to the integrity of our democracy. LWVUS is providing Leagues with the tools and resources to ensure people in their communities are counted. For a one-page guide on how to think through getting out the count, check out this new resource: Get Out the Count: Mapping Out a Plan.
ADVOCACY
Register for Webinar on Geothermal Energy Legislation
 
The LWVMA Committee for Environmental Action and Advocacy is presenting a webinar on the FUTURE bill (H.2849/S.1940), featuring Sen. Cynthia Creem, the bill's sponsor, and Audrey Schulman and Zeyneb Magavi of Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET), on Wednesday, Nov. 6, from 2 - 3 p.m. The webinar is open to all, but you need to register here .
 
The FUTURE bill is a comprehensive approach to move away from natural gas and toward a sustainable, safe, established source of energy for heating and cooling homes and buildings: geothermal micro districts. A fact sheet on the bill is available here . Join the webinar to learn how this technology works, how it compares to natural gas use, and how it can reduce carbon emissions.
LWVMA Supports Two Ballot Question Initiatives
 
The LWVMA board voted to begin support now for two of the proposed 2020 ballot question initiatives: the petition to implement ranked choice voting in the state, and the Constitutional amendment to restore the right of incarcerated prisoners to vote. The League's name will appear as a supporter of those two efforts, and we encourage local Leagues to participate in the signature-gathering process.
 
For information on working on the ranked choice voting ballot initiative, go to Voter Choice Massachusetts'  dedicated website for the effort. For information on ranked choice voting generally, go to go to the Voter Choice website.
 
For information on working on the prisoner voting issue, see the Mass POWER tab on the Emancipation Organization website. Click here to volunteer.

LWVMA will decide its positions on the final questions that will appear on the November 2020 ballot when those final questions are announced in July.
Day on the Hill Recap
 
"We couldn't do what we do here without the support and counsel of concerned citizens" such as the League of Women Voters, Senate President Karen Spilka told about 100 League members at our Day on the Hill lobby day.
 
"We need to have diverse voices at the table," she noted, pointing out that while additional women were elected to the state legislature in 2018, in the legislature's history there have been 210 women members-and more than 20,000 men.
 
Sen. Spilka named Abigail Adams as one of her inspirations, not for Adams' admonition to her husband to "remember the ladies" when drafting the rules for the new country, but for the rest of the Adams quote, where she promised women would "foment a rebellion" if the founders failed. Spilka noted she replaced the portraits of past Senate presidents in the caucus room in her office with portraits of women who played a significant role in the state's history, and invited League members to stop by to see them. "I put them up for women's history month, but I don't plan to take them down."
 
Commenting briefly on the priority legislation the League focused on at Day on the Hill, Sen. Spilka criticized press coverage of the amendments the Senate added to the Student Opportunity Act, the bill reforming the education foundation budget. Those amendments changed the way the Department of Education would review school district plans to improve performance. "We worked with the Department of Education on language that would be consistent with their practice and their capability," she said, so that the department would concentrate on reviewing the plans of districts where problems have been identified rather than all districts. That bill has passed the Senate and is pending in the House.
 
LWVMA specialists in four key areas asked League members to talk to their legislators about pending bills. Linda Freedman spoke on Election Day registration; Launa Zimmaro on climate crisis legislation; Mary Frantz on education funding reform; and Tracy Brown on reproductive rights.
What's Happening in the Legislature
 
The joint committees of the legislature are currently holding hearings on bills at a fast pace. Most of the bills we are following have been heard, and you can read our testimony on our website here. Almost all of the bills we are following are still in the joint committees. The deadline for reporting bills out of committee (or giving them a brief extension) is Feb. 5. Bills not reported out or extended by that date are dead for this session of the legislature.
 
Please watch the monthly Mass. League Action newsletter for steps you can take to help move the bills we support along.
 
There is likely to be some movement on bills before the legislature recesses for the holidays in late November, then activity will speed up when active sessions resume in January, leading up to that Feb. 5 deadline.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Earn $ for Your Local League Through Phonathon
 
LWVMA's biggest fundraiser, Phonathon, kicks off soon but we need your help! Several local Leagues have already volunteered to make donation phone calls to other members - will yours?
 
This is a win-win opportunity for local Leagues: your League will earn 10% of the contributions solicited by your team. Plus you will only call members who did not contribute to Fall Appeal. Phonathon is an easy way to fundraise! In FY2019, the local Leagues who participated in Phonathon collectively earned $3,287 for their Leagues. Would you consider making calls even if it is only to members of your own League?
 
Many Leagues plan a "pizza calling party" and make the calls all in one night. It is a great way to socialize and raise money for your League. Calls begin the second week of November and must be completed by Jan. 15.  If you would like to participate, please contact Brynne Gorman. You can sign up to make as many or as few calls as you would like. 
 
The Mass. League Voter is distributed to all LWVMA members. Anyone can request the Voter by clicking here. Please review this Update for articles of interest to your League and include them in your local Bulletin.
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