League of Women Voters of NYS


March 2013


I invite you all to join me at the 55th biennial State League Convention on June 1-2 in Albany. We have shortened the time of Convention and reduced the cost to attend with the hope of encouraging more to attend.  


Convention is a time to meet a group of dynamic leaders from around the state, a time to make new friends and renew old friendships.  It is also a time for new leaders to learn the basics of League operation and newer League members to be bitten by the "League" bug.  It is a time to improve your League's use of technology and streamline your League, so that you become more effective with less work.  It is a time to purchase romantic getaways and deluxe items at our silent auction. It is a time to educate fellow League members about important and timely issues and seek to have those issues adopted as part of the League's program.

It is also a wonderful exercise of grassroots democracy in action, when delegates representing the local Leagues come together to make the important decisions that will guide us through the next biennium including the election of officers and directors, adoption of a budget and bylaws amendments, and the adoption of our state program for 2013-2015.
Click here for the full Registration Kit or read below about all the activities of Convention - and then come join the fun!
Sally Robinson
League of Women Voters of NYS
Issues and Advocacy
Pay Equity
2012 Election Survey Results
Energy, Agriculture & Environment
Youth Programs
Voter Services
2013 State Convention
Silent Auction
Vote 411
Local League News

Donate to the League
Donate to the League's Education Foundation
Find Your Elected Officials

Find a Local League

Capitol Beat Blog

Travel with the League

State League Website

Issues and Advocacy, Sally Robinson
Great Lakes Ecosystem Concurrence
Thank you to everyone who responded to the Great Lakes Ecosystem Concurrence request.   Every response was positive, and the state concurrence guidelines for number of Leagues and geographical distribution were met.   The League Board officially adopted the policy at its March 14th meeting.  A copy is attached, and it is also contained in the newly updated LWVNYS Impact on Issues which will be posted to the state League website and distributed by the end of this week.


2013 Legislative Packet
The 2013 Legislative Packet, with suggestions for local League lobbying on Election Reform, Campaign Finance Reform and the Women's Equality Agenda has been emailed to every local League President and Issues and Advocacy Chair.  A hard copy has been mailed to each local League President or one Co-President.  It can also be found on our website and is attached.
Every local League is asked to schedule appointments with their NYS Senators and Assemblymembers to discuss these important issues.  Join your local League on these visits - contact your local League President or Action Chair and volunteer to join them!
LWVNYS Impact on Issues Updated
LWVNYS Impact on Issues is now in the finals stages of being updated in its entirety with respect to action taken up until the end of 2012. It will be posted on the state League website and distributed to all local Leagues by the end of this week.  Paper copies will be available for purchase at the price of $7.50 (plus tax and shipping). At the end of the 2013 legislative session in June, it will be updated again.  The newly adopted Great Lakes Ecosystem Concurrence is included under Natural Resources.
Women's Equality Agenda
The state League and 47 of our local Leagues have signed on as supporters of the Women's Equality Agenda, which would break down common barriers to equality that women face every day.   You can find the entire Agenda as proposed by Governor Cuomo at http://nywomensequality.org/; a link is also posted on the state League website.  At this point there is no legislative language, but we expect language after the budget is enacted.

The Women's Equality Agenda includes provisions that would advance pay equity, stop discrimination against pregnant workers, low-income families, and domestic violence survivors, and protect reproductive decision making in New York State. The state League has no position on two additional Agenda items concerning attorney's fees or human trafficking because we have not been a subject of League study.

Campaign Finance Reform
In addition to Lobby visits with your Legislators, we are providing two more ways for local Leagues to work for comprehensive campaign finance reform.  Please use these materials to get your members energized and make an impact.
* A sample Letter to the Editor calling for campaign finance reform, including a small donor matching system like New York City, is attached.  Please note that that not all newspapers will take letters to the editor that have been submitted to other papers, and if that is the case, we will work with you to craft a different letter.
* The guide to writing your own personalized letter calling for campaign finance reform to your legislator that we shared with attendees at Lobby Day 2013.  Have your local League spread this model to friends and neighbors.  Personalized constituent letters are the most effective means of influencing your legislator.  Have an old-fashioned letter writing party! The key points of CFR, as well as a template for a letter, is attached.

New York State Defenders Association
With the passing of Lenore Banks this past fall, Helga Schroeter has agreed to be the LWVNYS representative on the New York State Defenders Association. 
Pay Equity: Barb Thomas and Lois Haignere

 The Women's Equality Agenda includes a provision to make equal pay for equal work easier to obtain by prohibiting employers from terminating or retaliating against employees who share wage information, a practice that enables wage disparities to persist undetected and by increasing damages and eliminating loopholes that make it difficult to win a settlement when a worker has not received equal pay for equal work.  LWVNY is working in the Women's Equality Coalition to make this into law by the end of session (June, 2013).


LWVNY (and the NYS Pay Equity Coalition of which the League is a primary member) will continue to support three equal pay for job titles of comparable worth bills that have been passed in previous sessions by the Assembly and have never made it to the floor of the Senate: 


* The NYS Fair Pay Act [A05958 (Heastie), S01491 (Krueger)] This bill is comprehensive, covering  both the public and private sectors, and enforceable.  Passage of this bill would provide protection for all those working in traditionally female job titles in NY State.

 * A01729 (Jaffee)  While it does not cover the private sector, it seeks to ensure that each public sector employer in NY State pays non-biased compensation to  job titles that have equivalent value.   [Currently, there is no SAME AS bill in the Senate. ] 


* [A00753 (Rosenthal),  S01871 (Montgomery)]   Although this bill only covers those working for the State, it does include  enforcement mechanisms.  


As in previous years the Assembly intends to pass this pay equity bill package on Equal Pay Day, April 9th 2013.

On Equal Pay Day, April 9, LWV of Chemung County and the Elmira-Corning AAUW will present a talk entitled   "She Makes, He Makes:  Equal Pay and Family Gender Roles" by  Pamela Tolbert, PhD,  in the Industrial Labor Relations School at Cornell University.

2012 Election Survey, Aimee Allaud


For the November 2012 general election the League of Women Voters of New York State again provided an opportunity for League members and the general public to report on their voting experiences by participating in an online survey. The League had conducted similar surveys in 2009 and 2010, the latter election being the first time that the paper ballot optical scanning voting system was used statewide.


A total of one thousand and seventy nine (1,079) responses from 46 counties, including the 4 counties of New York City, were received. Thanks to all who responded to this survey!
A Presidential election year always presents challenges to boards of elections; however, this year presented unique challenges: administering four separate elections within five months in a redistricting cycle year, fully implementing the MOVE Act and then responding to a hurricane occurring one week before Election Day. Boards of elections in the affected counties are particularly to be commended for their dedicated response to almost impossible tasks. Survey responses from NYC region voters cited problems unique to the region because of the impact of Hurricane Sandy on election boards and operations.
Administrative problems such as poll worker competency, poll site layout, lack of information as the voter enters the polling place about finding her correct election district, and lengthy lines continue to be issues influencing voter satisfaction throughout much of the state. These may have been complicated because of the number of voters in a presidential election and extenuating circumstances, such as displacement of voters due to the hurricane.

Overall the 2012 survey indicated an improvement in how voters perceived their voting experience in most areas compared to the results obtained in the 2010 survey. Problems and recommendations outlined in the report are categorized into the following areas: Voting Machine Issues, Paper Ballot Issues, Polling Place Management Issues, and Poll Worker Issues. Click here to read the full report, including specific recommendations, report by LWVNYC on their responses, and a comparison from the 2010 responses.

2012 Election Survey
Energy, Agriculture and Environment, Beth Radow
The former Committee on Hydraulic Fracturing has changed its name to the Committee on Energy, Agriculture and Environment to convey the breadth of its scope. Following League precedent set in 2012, our committee has written a memorandum of support for identical bills (S0674/Avella and A1046/Sweeney) which would eliminate the gas industry's exemption from waste being classified and treated as "hazardous." When LWVNYS lobbyist Barbara Bartoletti determines that the bills are ready to move out of the respective legislative committees, she will distribute the Memo to all legislators, and members will be sent an action alert.

Following League precedent in 2010, 2011 and 2012, our committee is following different bills imposing a two-year moratorium on permitting for extraction of shale gas (S1201/Carlucci and A5424-A/Sweeney which has already passed). Both bills include input on health impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF), but differences between the two bills will have to be resolved.  Our committee is also planning an informational session on "Energy Choices" to be held at the state convention in June.  
Transportation, Gladys Gifford 

 Get ready for the LWVNYS Convention, June 1-2, in Albany! I plan to be there, arriving by Amtrak, of course.  I am preparing a powerpoint for you to see during the caucus time, on the subject of transportation policy-- as in, why should we care?

Transportation is taken for granted-- until it breaks down, or until we can't afford it anymore.  But are we aware of the impact transportation policy has on our everyday expenses?  on energy? on land use?  on housing?  on schools?

So do plan to attend Convention, and I plan to see you there! 

GENDA, Suzanne Perry

Five times the NYS Assembly has passed the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) (A.4226/Gottfried)(S.195/Squadron), and yet it has never reached the floor of the NYS Senate. GENDA would outlaw discrimination based on gender identity or expression, providing equality of opportunity to a small and unfairly marginalized group of New Yorkers.  GENDA also expands the state's hate crimes law to explicitly include crimes against transgender people.  The state League has an official position in support of this bill that local Leagues may follow or remain silent.


Currently it is legal in much of New York to be fired from your job, kicked out of your home or denied credit or public accommodation (like service in a restaurant) simply for being transgender. The transgender community experiences severe, at times life threatening discrimination. New York City, Buffalo, Ithaca, Albany, Binghamton, Rochester and, most recently, Syracuse provide GENDA-similar protections as well as Suffolk, Tompkins and Westchester Counties, but a patchwork of local ordinances is no substitute for statewide action.  


The Empire State Pride Agenda (www.prideagenda.org), Housing Works and local LGBT groups are lobbying actively for this bill and the support of our Leagues and women's organizations may be critical in this effort.  We encourage League members to contact your State Senator in support of this bill if you chose. If you have any questions, please contact Suzanne at tillingonrye@gmail.com.

Youth Programs, Judie Gorenstein

Final arrangements for the 13th annual Students Inside Albany Conference, being held April 14-17 in Albany, are being made.  This year 55 students representing 38 Leagues will be participating and will be staying at the newly renovated Hilton Albany (same hotel as convention). Unlike in the past, this year the LWVNYS is contacting the students' legislators to arrange for shadowing to avoid problem in the past when too many students contacted the same legislator. Watch on the website for a summary and photos after the conference.


Several Leagues who had anticipated sending students were unable to do so for various reasons. Students Inside Albany offers not only a wonderful, educational program for the students participating, but an opportunity for the local Leagues to be reenergized and gain visibility in their schools and community.  Local Leagues who have not participated in this program are urged to visit the youth programs website and also attend the youth programs workshops and info sessions at the state Convention in June. 

Local Leagues who have had successful youth programs are being contacted and asked to be on panel at the youth workshop at the state Convention.  If your League has an innovative or interesting youth program that has not previously been reported, please contact Judie Gorenstein at 631-491-3177  in order that you too can help lead.  Remember, our youth are our future! 

Voter Services, Susan Multer


Sixteen local leagues and one MAL responded to the 2012 Voter Service Survey. Fourteen leagues held candidate forums, with attendance ranging from 40 to 210.Some had to be cancelled because of hurricane Sandy.

The number of voter registration drives by a given league ranged from one to 50; total registered by one league ranged from 20 to 1200. Many forms were distributed for address changes or for absentee ballots. Three leagues offered registration information at naturalization ceremonies; two offered hot lines for voters to learn where to vote after the hurricane.

Although issues/propositions that will be on the ballot this fall have not yet been determined, if the current legislature passes certain bills that have already been passed by a different legislature (like in 2012) requiring a constitutional amendment, they would be on the ballot. Any member wanting to help identify such bills and write an explanation to enable league members to better understand them, please notify the state League office at 518-465-4162. 

2013 State Convention, June 1-2, Albany
First Call to Convention was announced on March 6, 2013.
Convention 2013 will be held at the newly renovated Hilton Albany (formerly Hotel Albany) in Albany from June 1-2, 2013. In an attempt to encourage more members to attend, we have shortened the convention time which will allow people to stay overnight for only one night, if desired, and reduced the cost to $180 for each delegate. The general schedule (tentative) is as follows:

Friday, May 31  3:00 pm   Tour of NYS Capitol (free)
Friday, May 31  6:00 pm  Dine Around (on your own expense)
Saturday, June 1 8:30 am-10:45 am Workshops (free)

Saturday, June 1 1:00 pm  Opening Plenary Session
Saturday, June 1 5:30 pm  Reception
Saturday, June 1 6:30 pm  Dinner, Awards and Speaker
Saturday, June 1 9:00 - 11:00 pm Caucuses/Information Sessions
Sunday, June 2  7:30 am   Presidents' Breakfast (and breakfast for others, too)
Sunday, June 2  9:00-12:00 noon Plenary Session
Mickey Edwards, former Congressman from OK and current Vice President of the Aspen Institute, will be our  evening dinner speaker on Saturday night. He will speak on the issue of civil discourse and the need for nonpartisan cooperation in politics. His most recent book is entitled, The Parties Versus the People  How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans, and was published in 2012 and will be available for sale at Convention.

The full Registration Kit has been mailed to all local League Presidents and one Co-President, as well as emailed to all local officers and board members. The Kit is also posted on the homepage of the state League website. It contains all the details and info to register. The registration date is April 8th - be sure to register by then.
All League members are welcome to attend. If your local League is sending its full delegation (each local League is entitled to so many delegates based on membership numbers), then you can represent another local League (call the state office) or attend as a visitor or observer.

We also need volunteers to help with the Convention who are then able to attend the activities, excluding meals, for free! Contact Anne Burton at anneburton10@gmail.com if you would like to volunteer.
Hilton Albany
Convention 2013 will be held at the newly renovated Hilton Albany at 40 Lodge Street in downtown Albany. Rooms and the price ($124 for singles and $134 for doubles) are only being held until May 10 so make your reservation early. We also only have a few rooms reserved on Friday, but if there is still availability, they will make more rooms available at the same price. So call 866-691-1183 or visit www.hiltonalbany.com to make your reservation; be sure to use our group code of 1EZP to get our special rates.
The state League will again be honoring the efforts and successes of our local Leagues with our Award Program. Every local League has initiated programs in each of the areas - boast about your programs and win an award! The deadline to enter has been extended until March 25th. Complete a nomination form and send the form with samples of documents, brochures, media coverage, etc, that you have for the program to the state office by March 25, 2013.  There are many categories for which all local Leagues should submit an application; categories and suggested criteria for consideration are listed below:
a. How the program energized and motivated youth to become civically involved
b. How program benefited the local league and community
c. How many members, youth, and parents were engaged in the program
d. What relationships with other community resources were formed
e. Did any people join the League as a result of the program
a. Creation of an annual plan for Membership Recruiting and Retention including goals set and goals achieved
b. Specific activities that increased League visibility, working with allied groups
c. Specific focus on introducing new members to League and offering opportunities for them to be part of League work
a. Creation/implementation of plan for fundraising
b. Uniqueness of project
c. Impact on League visibility and membership growth
d. Involvement and satisfaction of League members
e. Total amount raised
a. Action on issues in response to Action Alerts and/or meeting a need in your community
b. How did you frame the problem and research it within your League
c. How did you identify and work with allied groups
d. How did you mobilize community response
e. Objectives achieved including any unanticipated results of your action campaign as well as impact on membership growth and leadership development
a. An annual plan to increase League visibility
b. What publications were needed to achieve this
c. Development, Financing and marketing of publications
d. Use of media available to promote visibility
e. Effectiveness of PR campaign based on Local response: difficulties and successes
a. Planning and implementation of Voters Service project
b. Describe:  registration, citizen information, publications
c. Impact on League visibility and membership growth
d. Uniqueness of project
a. Taking a new approach to a "traditional" League activity
b. What made this unique and innovative?
Big League Raffle
The state League will again sponsor the Big League Raffle this spring with the winner announced at State Convention in June. Tickets will be mailed to all members in early April. Remember to encourage sales as the local Leagues receive a portion of the net proceeds based on the number of tickets sold by that local League. You could win over $2,000 and your local League benefits, too!
Silent Auction
 As in the past, the state League is asking all local Leagues to help with our biennial Silent Auction. Be creative and help your League create a basket of goodies that represents your area of New York State. We ask that the total items be valued at least $50. Most local Leagues have asked for donations from local stores, restaurants, museums, etc to put together a basket of items for someone to enjoy a visit in their area. Some have also submitted just one item by a local artist or store. It doesn't have to cost your local League anything (maybe the basket) to put the items together. Please help the state League raise some funds and increase the visibility of the good qualities of your area of the state. Send the state League a description of the items with the approximate value by May 1 (you can bring the items or basket with you if it's too big to ship in advance). Don't wait, though; start thinking about the basket now! 
Vote 411 Training


We have had a great response to our training sessions around the state. We had almost 20 people at the training sessions in each Albany and Long Island and 12 in Rochester. Our last session will be held in Binghamton this Saturday, March 23. Anyone interested in attending should just contact the state office (518-465-4162).

All local League need assistance in implementing this important program. They need help from people who can use the technology, but also from other people to perform the other tasks, such as reminding the candidates to respond. The State League is committed to this program and is financially supporting the program and providing extensive training; the local Leagues are only asked to contribute $25 for the program. Come learn what it's all about!

The future of the League is dependent on continuing to provide accurate and timely voter information for the public, in whatever manner is necessary. The electronic voter guide program, Vote 411, is crucial to the League's position as one of the primary sources of voter information; the public is looking for electronic voter information and we must provide the information electronically if we are to remain a viable source.

Local League News


 The LWV of Broome and Tioga Counties held its annual Status of Women Council's Women of Achievement Dinner. The dinner honored Margaret Goodfellow and Sara Wokan, two members from the LWV of Broome and Tioga Counties.
The Bedford/Lewisboro/N. Salem LWV held a meeting and discussion on the process by which judicial candidates' names get on the ballot. Bedford Town Justice David Menken and Lewisboro Town Justice Susan Simon were in attendance to discuss the process.
The Brookhaven LWV held a presentation titled "Our Health Care and the Affordable Health Care Act," led by Janine Logan from the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council.
The Buffalo/Niagara LWV co-sponsored a dinner with the AAUW in celebration of International Women's Day also known as United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace.
The Chautauqua County LWV held a luncheon titled "Can We Believe the Media?" with Mark Kiyak, a faculty member of SUNY Fredonia, as the main speaker.
The Cortland County LWV sponsored a discussion on climate change titled "Climate Change: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," led by Larry Klotz Ph.D., Biology, SUNY Cortland. 
The East Nassau LWV sponsored a presentation titled "Is Democracy for Sale? Why We Need Fair Elections in New York State," presented by Carol Mellor, a member of the LWVNYS Board and LWV of the Hamptons.
Arlene Hinkemeyer, Vice-President of the Hamptons LWV, has been invited to give a presentation to The East Hampton Historical Society (EHHS). The title of her presentation is "The Suffragist Movement: Women Work for the Right to Vote" and is part of the EHHS four-part winter lecture series titled "Changing Times: Epics & Events That Shaped East Hampton."
The Larchmont/Mamaroneck LWV sponsored a breakfast forum as part of its 2013 Conservation Civics Initiative. The breakfast was led by Richard Cherry, founding president of the nonprofit Community Environmental Center (CEC) and Kyle Rabin, Program Director at GRACE Communications Foundation. The forum described how the community and individuals can save money and benefit from using less energy.
The New Castle LWV invited Town Supervisor of New Castle Susan Carpenter to speak about topics that affect the Town of New Castle.
The White Plains LWV and Rensselaer LWV held educational forums on Campaign Finance Reform in New York State.  LWVNYS Executive Director Laura Ladd Bierman and LWVNYS Legislative Director Barbara Bartoletti presented the state League's educational program at all three events.
The Rochester Metro LWV hosted a forum titled "Facing Race, Embracing Equity" that included a screening of the documentary July '64 and discussion about issues on housing inequality.
The Rye, Rye Brook and Port Chester LWV  held a forum titled "Money and Politics."
 The LWV of Rensselaer County is celebrating Women's History Month in March by providing a display in the cases at the East Greenbush Community Library.  Featured will be "the girls", dolls representing Susan B. Anthony , leader of voting rights for women, and Carrie Chapman Catt, founder of the League of Women Voters (They were friends, you know).  The dolls are on loan from the New York State League of Women Voters. Also featured will be framed photographs of the march of the Suffragettes , and a photo of Beulah Bailey Thull, the founder of the League of Women Voters of Rensselaer County.  These early women activists gave rise to our present League which promotes ease and accessibility of voting rights for all. 
The Saratoga County LWV held a community forum on gun control and the safety of our schools. The forum featured eight panelists from different backgrounds including a state trooper, LWVNYS Gun Safety Specialist Aimee Allaud and representatives from the PTA and NYS United Teachers.
The Schenectady LWV sponsored a review of Michelle Alexander's book, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" lead by Colin Donnaruma, President of the Capital Region Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and a member of the NYCLU's state board of directors.
The Schuyler LWV sponsored a community forum on the future of the Schuyler County educational system. The LWV of Smithtown co-sponsored a presentation by James Coll of the NY Council for the Humanities titled 'Forever Free: 'Lincoln, Civil War and the American March to Emancipation."
The Southwest Nassau LWV co-sponsored many community forums in February with LaFuente, Latino Justice, and Common Cause/NY on a Nassau County Legislative District map.
The Steuben County LWV held their annual members' brunch with presentations by Steve Kula and Nate Shinagawa, two county residents that ran for elected office who spoke about the process of running for office.
The Syracuse LWV held their annual Legislative Breakfast that allowed attendees to speak with their state legislators. 
The Tompkins LWV Natural Resources Committee co-sponsored a presentation titled "Renewable Energy: Global And Local."  The speakers included Francis Vanek, Senior Lecturer in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University; Guillermo Metz, Green Building and Renewable Energy Program Coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension; and Jonathan Comstock, Co-chair of Energy-Independent Caroline and Chair of Solarized Tompkin.
The Utica/Rome LWV invited Russell Stewart, Democratic Commissioner for Oneida County, and Audrey Dunning, Democratic commissioner for Herkimer County, to speak at their General Membership meeting. 

League of Women Voters of New York State

62 Grand Street, Albany, NY 12207

Tel:518-465-4162    FAX:518-465-0812

email: lwvny@lwvny.org

website: www.lwvny.org