LWVUS Legislative Priorities–Voting Rights, Election Administration, Money in Politics & More

The Weekly Update from President Elisabeth MacNamara

FEBRUARY 5, 2015

LWVUS first tier priorities are voting rights and election administration and money in politics; the second tier priorities are climate and environmental protection, immigration and health care including reproductive choice.

Every year, the LWVUS Board meets in January to, among many other things, set federal legislative priorities for the year. The League has many positions from which to take action but establishing a focus for our national advocacy is a critical responsibility of the LWVUS Board as it is for every League Board. We cannot be all things to all people and remain an effective voice in any legislative body. In setting legislative priorities the Board considers a number of factors the most important of which is focusing League effort where it can have the greatest impact. For 2015 the LWVUS legislative priorities are, as usual, ranked in two tiers.

As I noted a few weeks ago, President Obama, in his State of the Union address, devoted a lot of time to what he called middle class economics. Practical political considerations dictate that the League, at the national level, can most effectively work for the greatest good by focusing on core democracy issues. Much of the inequality, economic and otherwise, that exists in our society results from uneven and unequal access and participation at the ballot box and beyond.

However, the LWVUS Board reminds Leagues that we have a national position on Meeting Basic Human Needs that includes the following statement: “People who are unable to work, whose earnings are inadequate or for whom jobs are not available have the right to an income and/or services sufficient to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and access to health care.” The Board is aware that in setting their own legislative priorities for this year, there are communities in which League Boards may find both the interest and the opportunity to take action on local or state legislation to which this position may apply. Every League Board has the serious responsibility to do its due diligence on any proposed legislation that addresses Meeting Basic Human Needs and judge whether there is member understanding and agreement that the proposed legislation meets the criteria quoted above. If it does, then the Board should carefully deliberate and make a decision based upon both the position and the needs of its own community. What fits other communities can only be addressed by the relevant League.

With the understanding that the LWVUS Board has not interpreted this provision of our position on Meeting Basic Human Needs to define a so-called ‘living wage’ at the national level or to support a federal minimum wage, action on state or local legislation using this or any other national position is in the discretion of the League Board at that governmental level. At the national level, Board and staff will continue to say that we have no member understanding and agreement as to a definition of a ‘living wage’ and that we cannot support a federal minimum wage, on the other hand, we do not presume to anticipate every possible legislative scenario that Leagues may confront in their own communities to which the language of the Meeting Basic Human Needs position may apply.

Questions regarding the application of this position at the state and local level may be directed to LWVUS Advocacy Chair Chris Carson at carsonlwv@yahoo.com.


NOTE: League Members can get lots of information about LWVUS advocacy and many tools for League activities by logging on to the website, www.lwv.org, and going to login or go directly to https://member.lwv.org/Login.asp. If you don’t yet have a password, register as a new user. Many of these useful materials are found only on forum.lwv.org and only for members.

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