Making Democracy Work

LWVNYS STATE/ PROGRAM/ BLOG

The Local Program Positions for the LWVNYS well as the LWVNYS links and blog.

Update of LWVNYS Charter School Position

The State League has asked local Leagues to consider updating our position on charter schools. The update, approved by delegates to the 2017 State League Convention, would delete the following sentence: "In lieu of amendment of the Charter School Act to increase the total number of charters that could be granted, it supports retention of the current total (100) with amendment of the Charter School Act so that a charter could be reissued if a charter school ceased to function for any reason."

The State League wants to delete this sentence because it is no longer relevant. It advocates to keep a cap of 100 charter schools when, in fact, the current cap is 460. Deletion of this sentence does not change the intent of the State League's position on charter schools, namely that the number of charter schools should be limited. Charter schools should also show evidence of effectiveness and be mindful of students with special needs.

The Schenectady League will consider the update at the next Board meeting, open to all members, on December 13th at 3 PM at 1060 Parkwood Blvd., Schenectady.

The Power of Awareness

"Empowering All Through Education"

The League of Women Voters of New York State Education Foundation is the educational and fund-raising arm of The League of Women Voters of New York State which derives its strength from the energy and commitment of the women and men in about 60 local Leagues throughout the state. It is strictly nonpartisan, and works primarily on projects that enlighten the electorate i.e., empower through education.

The charitable support of individual people, corporations and foundations throughout New York State help us accomplish three central missions:

  • Educate people on the importance of their participation in government, in the political process and, most importantly, in the life of their home community.
  • Create awareness of the issues at the local, state and national levels and what average citizens can do to have an impact on their government.
  • Instill in young people and new citizens the knowledge of their role and responsibilities in managing their own government.

Voter Services September 2017

Judie Gorenstein, judieL728@aol.com

During the past year, it became evident that past LWVNYS voter guide policy on CANDIDATE NIGHTS needed to be clarified and amended. Leagues were confused as to whether different kind of events, i.e,debates, forums, meet the candidate nights, etc. all needed to follow same rules. Many local leagues had questions and were confused as to the different rules for candidate nights for federal candidates vs other candidates. While we had stipulated that there could be no "Empty Chair" for federal candidates based on FEC and FCC regulations, we had only strongly recommended that all leagues do the same for other candidates. There were leagues that followed our recommendations and there were some who did not. Thus, there was not one format all leagues followed. Inconsistencies can only lead to confusion.

The LWV has always been recognized as being the experts in running candidate debates. Now with the polarized political climate, it is more important than ever that we continue to be the gold standard. The LWVNYS board, after careful consideration of both the intent and wording, has voted unanimously to adopt these two policies.

It is extremely important that all leagues throughout New York state speak with one voice, have clear and consistent policies, and adhere to our nonpartisan policy. Therefore "open or empty" chair candidate meetings will not be allowed at any level of League for any elected position. Any League sponsored public event that invites a candidate for elected office will be considered a candidate meeting. A candidate meeting with only one candidate physically present is an "open or empty" chair candidate meeting.Constitutional Convention Education.<\i>

Sally Robinson, robintwins@gmail.com

A wealth of information on the ballot proposal question on whether to hold a constitutional convention, including articles in favor and against the proposal, is available on the state League website at http:// http://www.lwvny.org/programs-studies/con-con-edu.html. This page is often updated with new articles and one concerning the myth of losing public pensions has just been posted (click here). Feel free to share part or all with your members and the public. It summarizes the issue very well.

July 2017 State Board Update

Excerpts from the President's Report
Dare Thompson, President LWVNYS

....The report (referring to a report by Judie Gorenstein later in the Update) stresses the need for all

of us to make our state and local Leagues more effective by being more comfortable with new, nimble ways of doing things, while still being firmly committed to being nonpartisan. I am eager for change (hard though it is) but I find myself struggling with our nonpartisan policy when so many issues the League cares deeply about (health care, climate change, immigration, etc.!) - as well as the very structures of our democracy are under attack.

Yes, there is much we can say and do, and LWVUS has issued statements of outrage that we can use in our own Letters to the Editor in local media outlets, but sometimes I get frustrated with the limits as I watch party members propose candidates, gather signatures, and get about the business of trying to put people in office who agree with them. I even find myself tempted to run for office myself.

But countering those frustrations are my experiences with new advocates who are grateful to be with a group like ours that is listening hard to all sides and knows the ins and outs of advocacy at all levels in a deep and very useful way. It feels so good to introduce so many new people to the restrictive NYS election laws, see their outrage, and help direct their anger into informed and effective action. I hope you too are training activists, and keeping a close eye on your own governing bodies. Even my own county's legislature is reduced to a level of squabbling that I don't think I've ever seen before. We must insist on better government everywhere.

Meanwhile, on the state League board we send greetings and thanks to former board members Ann Burton, Georgia DiGregorio, Judy Middelkoop, Terri Parks, and Sue Wilson. and welcome new members Sheila Miller Bernson, Betty Ann King, Lori Robinson and Suzanne Stassevitch.

State Convention Delegates approved two program items

1. An update on the Charter School position adopted in 2006 to delete the following sentence. "In lieu of amendment of the Charter School Act to increase the total number of charters that could be granted, it supports retention of the current total (100) with amendment of the Charter School Act so that a charter could be reissued if a charter school ceased to function for any reason." The 100 charter school cap has been exceeded over the years and is no longer a relevant number.

2. A concurrence with a LWV of Utah's position on Death with Dignity.

Legislative Action July

In July we received press requests related to campaign finance and the Governor's executive order on voting reforms. At the beginning of the month, there were several articles criticizing the Governor for benefiting from campaign donations from shell LLC corporations. The League has been adamant about closing the LLC loophole and we told reporters that we were dismayed to see the Governor benefiting from the LLC loophole when he has done little to address the problem. The Governor was not the only elected official to benefit from LLC donations, members of the Assembly and Senate also received large sums from these corporations. We will continue to monitor campaign spending as we get closer to the election.

At the end of this month the Governor passed an executive order mandating all state agencies have voter registration forms and help individuals complete the forms. The League issued a statement urging the Governor to do more. In New York State, registration is not the issue. In 2016, New York had a record high of registered voters. The issue in New York is barriers to voting such as long lines and strict party change deadlines. We hope that in 2018 the Governor will focus and more meaningful reforms such as early voting. Our full statement is below:

While we appreciate Governor Cuomo's intentions, his proposed executive order will do little to address the issues New York State voters face on Election Day. Voter purges, strict registration and party change deadlines, and long lines at the polls cannot be fixed with enhanced voter registration. Studies show that voter registration is not a major issue in New York State. In 2016, voter registration in New York State reached a record high. Unfortunately, many of these newly enrolled voters faced barriers at the voting booths that deterred them from casting their ballot. While we agree that state agencies should take a more active role in voter registration, we would prefer to see an executive order that enacts early voting, alters registration deadlines, or allows or electronic poll books. The only way to truly empower voters and ensure ballot integrity is to make voting easier and more accessible.

Jennifer Wilson, Director of Program and Policy

LWVNYS PRESS STATEMENT 2017 Budget Deal

The League of Women Voters of New York State is outraged that the budget deal touted by the Governor and the legislature once again failed to implement any reforms to make voting easier and more accessible. The League has fought for voting reform as well as anti-corruption measures for more than three decades. Our state continues to rank near the bottom in terms of voter turnout and participation. In 2016, lines at the polls left New Yorkers waiting for hours to cast their ballot and the names of voters in New York City were wrongly purged from voter rolls. How long must the people wait until the legislature acts on common sense voting reforms?

Governor Cuomo proposed two reforms that would have made voting more accessible. Automatic voter registration and early voting would have reduced lines on Election Day and empowered voters to cast their ballot when it is most convenient. But these proposed reforms were once again left behind while the legislature adopted the budget. The legislature needs to act and pass comprehensive voting reforms during this legislative session. In this 100th anniversary year of women getting the right to vote in New York, it is time to bring our state into the twenty- first century and pass early voting and automatic voter registration.

Summary of Public Policy Positions LWVNYS 2016

Bold italics are changes recommended by the Schenectady League for 2017-2018
ELECTION LAW
--UNDER LWVUS POSITIONS Support
of measures to protect, extend and encourage the use of the franchise, including paperless and Election Day registration, no-excuse absentee and in-person early voting. Restore integrity to the election process -- specifically support for uniformity in election laws and procedures in their implementation and enforcement; promote measures that ensure the integrity of all ballots; support ballot access and fair campaign practices.
Support comprehensive campaign finance reform, including public financing of campaigns.
Opposition to term limits for members of the NYS Legislature.
Opposition to term limits for NYS statewide elected officials.
Support for continuation of Fusion Voting in New York State whether or not Wilson-Pakula is repealed.
Requested clarification of fusion voting

GOVERNMENT
--UNDER LWVUS POSITIONS Support
of citizen rights, including reproductive rights.
Support of effective regulation of lobbying and ethics.
Support of standards to ensure equitable representation in the State legislature and Congress.
Support of improved measures to provide representation for legislative districts in case of a vacancy.
Support of responsive and responsible legislative processes which increase the role of the individual member and the committee system.
Support of procedural reforms in the constitutional convention process to promote openness and nonpartisanship as positive factors in deciding on support for a constitutional convention.
Support of the consolidation of government/shared services when it promotes effective and efficient operation of government.

HEALTH CARE
Support of measures to assure a basic level of quality physical and mental health care, including regulatory incentives to encourage development of cost-effective alternative methods of delivery; funding for health promotion and disease prevention programs; provisions for effective citizen participation in health policy decisions.
Support of measures that enable individuals to assume responsibility for their own health and to participate in decisions, including extraordinary life-extending procedures and options for end of life.
Support for uniform eligibility and coverage of basic health care costs through public financing with single payer concept as an acceptable approach to implementing League positions on equitable access and cost containment.

JUDICIAL
Support of a unified state court system with improved provisions for judicial selection.
Support of statewide guidelines for law enforcement at all levels to prevent racial and economic profiling.
Support of measures to improve pretrial procedures in the criminal courts.
Support of measures to promote a fair and efficient jury system.
Support the rights of indigent defendants to representation at public expense.
Support of alternatives to incarceration.
Opposition to the death penalty, with life without parole as the primary alternative.
Support of legislation to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18 years old.

NATURAL RESOURCES
---UNDER LWVUS POSITIONS Support
for protection and management of New York's natural resources in the public interest, including energy conservation and energy options from renewable sources.
Support for measures to achieve watershed protection including limiting pesticide use and applying Best Management Practices.
Support for a state-established, intergovernmental system for land resource management.
Support for a proactive role for New York State in regional land use planning, containing urban sprawl and protecting sensitive areas.
Support of reconditioning of the New York State Erie/Barge Canal System and its development for recreational uses.
Support for preserving and enhancing the environmental integrity and quality of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Ecosystem.

SOCIAL POLICY
---UNDER LWVUS POSITIONS Support
for equality of opportunity, meeting basic human needs, childcare, energy-efficient and environmentally sound public transit, and gun control.
Support measures to meet the needs for affordable and accessible housing through use of state funds and incentives to localities
Support of a livable wage for all localities in New York State.

STATE FINANCES
Support reforms for greater equity in education financing (K-12) for both pupils and taxpayers.
Support raising funds to provide New York's children with a sound basic education through increases in the New York State personal income tax, implemented in a progressive fashion.
Support for the replacement of the existing local residential property tax relief programs in which relief goes to all with programs based on need, with annual cost of living adjustment.
Oppose in principle the use of public funds to support non-public schools (K-12).
Oppose any increase in the maximum number of charter schools without improvements to the Charter School Act.
Support the funding of public higher education and the existing formula for financing the community system, 1/3 tuition, 1/3 state aid, and 1/3 county support.
Support a uniform equitable assessment and property tax system.
Support of measures to provide for openness and accountability in the operation of the New York State public authority system.
Support of a timely and responsive state budget.
Requested study of whether property tax cap is an appropriate way to fund government.

WOMEN'S ISSUES
Support of measures that hold marriage to be an economic partnership with a presumption of equality between the spouses.
Opposition to measures that contain a presumption of joint custody of the children.
Support for equity in employment laws and practices and equal pay for jobs of comparable worth.
Support of measures to reduce the incidence and effects of domestic violence.

LWV State Policy Positions & LWV Local Program Positions

NYS Public Policy Positions

  1. Election Law: discussion on new position for support of Fusion Voting in NYS; some members in favor of discontinuing fusion voting entirely as very few states observe this; request for clarification of this new position
  2. Constitutional Convention Position: agreement
  3. Government: discussion on gerrymandering (what is the LWV US position on re-districting?); request for review of LWVUS position on this as it does not seem to appear in State position
  4. Health Care: discussion on second position about adding options to end of life care; request to add "options for end of life"; statement to read "...including life-extending procedures and options for end of life."
  5. Judicial: agreement
  6. Natural Resources: discussion of fluoride in water and whether it is necessary; no request for action
  7. Social: agreement
  8. State Finances: discussion of current 2% tax cap and whether it is an adequate way to fund schools; it can create undue burden on school budgets; request to look at whether a tax cap is an appropriate way to fund government
  9. Women's Issues: agreement

About the LWVNYS Education Foundation (EF)

Throughout its history the Foundation has produced and distributed nonpartisan, educational materials; funded activities which promote citizen responsibility in the democratic process; and facilitated communication between citizens and their government officials. It has a strong commitment to young people and to the promise of the continued success of democracy.

The League of Women Voters of New York State Education Foundation (LWVNYSEF) was established in 1950 as the Foundation for Citizen Education (FCE) to support the educational activities of the League of Women Voters of New York State. It is incorporated under the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law of New York and is classified as a public educational charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Foundation is dedicated exclusively to the support and promotion of the educational programs of the League of Women Voters in New York State.

Give to LWVNYS Education Foundation Make a tax-deductible contribution to the Education Foundation using your credit card. If you prefer to write a check, please make them payable to the LWVNYS Education Foundation. If you have any questions, feel free to call the state League office directly at 518-465-4162.

July 2017 State Voter

The July 2017 State Voter is now available here

League of Women Voters of New York State

Capitol Beat Blog

The League of Women Voters of NYS is pleased to announce the return of "Capitol Beat." This informative and entertaining column, written by the LWVNYS Legislative Director Barbara Bartoletti will contain legislative updates about League issues, as well as political gossip. We will also outline the budget and of course, will chronicle the always-lively end of session. We have created a blog page for "Capitol Beat" on our League website, and we welcome your comments posted on this blog page. We have also linked the Legislative Calendar so you have all the dates of the legislative session. So, check out the blog and continue to watch it for updates - we hope to keep it lively and current. Get all the latest legislative info right on our website and blog!