League of Women Voters of NYS


January 2014 


The state League has reformatted its website to be similar to LWVUS and other Leagues. All the information is still there - check out the new format!  

From the State League Office
The 2014 legislative session has begun and the Governor presented his budget this week. The state League is preparing testimony for budget hearings and preparing for the rest of the legislative session as well.

We joined other good government groups and issued a letter to the Governor and a press release concerning campaign finance reform. We provided memos in support of legislation being considered by the Assembly concerning the single, June primary and registration of 16-17 year olds. Again with our good government partners, the League sent a memo in support of legislation requiring online and webcasting of committee and floor votes in the legislature. The League also issued a media statement following the Governor's presentation of the Executive Budget. Actions such as these are posted daily on the state website - check it out on a regular basis for all that we are doing.


We also are organizing regional training workshops at four locations around the state for League members to learn more about membership, leadership, advocacy, fundraising, public relations, voter services and Vote 411. All members are welcome to attend. See more information in the article below or click here for a registration form. Join us to learn more and network with area League members.

Finally, our exciting news is the new state League website! LWVUS has asked all Leagues (state and local) to format their websites similar to the LWVUS website. The goal is to show the public that we are all one organization. Check out the new format - the same info is there.

Hope to see you in March or April at the regional training sessions!

Laura Bierman, Executive Director
League of Women Voters of NYS
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS


Regional Workshops for All
Issues and Advocacy
Grassroots Lobbyist
State Studies and Update
Youth Programs
League Development
Local League News
Membership Tips
LWV of NYC holds "Lunch with the League" on a monthly basis; members can come during lunch hour, eat, socialize with members and hear a great program.

LWV of Albany holds "Souper Suppers" and members bring a bowl and spoon to a 5:30 pm meeting; a couple of members bring crockpots of soup and members can eat, talk and hear a great program.

Both are creative ways to include working members and members who prefer daytime meetings!
Have you "liked" the League on Facebook? Click here.

Have you donated to the League or the League's Education Foundation? We need your support to maintain our strength, visibility and programs. Click on the "DONATE" buttons here

Regional Workshops for ALL!
The state League is organizing regional workshops around the state during March and April 2014; workshops will be held from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm on Saturdays. All local Leagues are strongly encouraged to have ALL board members attend part or all of one of the training sessions; all members are also invited to attend any or all of the workshops. Directions to all locations will be emailed when registration is received.
  • March 1, Albany (McKnownville Church, 1565 Western Ave, Albany - at end of Northway and Exit 24 of Thruway)
  • March 8, Binghamton (Broome Co. Public Library, 185 Court St, Binghamton)
  • March 29, Long Island (Cold Spring Harbor Library, 95 Harbor Rd, Cold Spring Harbor)
  • April 5, Rochester (Brighton Parks and Rec Building)
Workshops will include the following topics:
  • Vote 411 (beginners & refresher): Where do I start? (bring laptop if possible)
  • Membership: Attracting and retaining members doesn't "just happen"! 
  • Leadership: League leaders are often made, not born. Are we building our future?
  • Lunch (provided): Network with League members and share your current local activities and efforts
  • Vote 411 (experienced): Gripes, Grins & Going Forward (bring laptop if possible)  
  • Advocacy and Issues: What's going on in the state legislature now? And, share what hot issue is in your own community now?
  • Fundraising Idea-Sharing: Minimal Pain, Maximum Gain
  • Visibility: Are You a Player? How to increase connections with media, politicians, other groups, and "The Public"
  • Candidate Forums: Policies, Guidelines and Staying Out of Trouble

Click  here for the registration form; deadline is one week prior to the training session, (eg, Feb. 21 for the Albany training on March 1). There is a $10 fee per person as we will be providing lunch. All members are invited to attend.


Come network with other area League members, learn more about the League and see how you can get more involved! 

Sally Robinson, robintwins@gmail.com

2014 Legislative Agenda

The Legislative Agenda brochures have been mailed to all local Leagues who placed orders. We still have a supply so if your local League would like some, please contact Katrina at the state office. Click here to see the 2014 Legislative Agenda brochure which is also posted on the state League website. The 2014 Legislative Calendar, showing the dates the legislature will be in session in Albany, is also posted on the state website.



2014 Lobby Day - Last Chance to Sign Up! 

Want to come learn more about the League's positions and what we expect for action this legislative session? Lobby Day (or more accurately, Advocacy Training Day) will be held on MONDAY, FEB. 3, 2014. The date of Lobby Day has changed from Tuesday, Feb. 4 to Monday, Feb. 3rd - please note the change in date! All members are encouraged to attend. Explanation of the state League's positions and projected action will be discussed. The state League Issue Specialists will present information on the current status of legislation in their areas. Attendees will be able to observe either the Senate or Assembly from the Galleries and attend committee meetings scheduled for that day (schedules won't be available until the week prior to Lobby Day). If members wish, they can schedule meetings with their own legislators. We are still accepting registrations but please sign up NOW! Call Katrina (518-465-4162) to reserve your spot! We are charging $10 per person to attend - but it will include lunch this year!


Helga Schroeter, helgasasquith@verizon.net

The New York State Judicial System faces many problems, caused in part by years of zero increases in the judiciary budget. The lack of additional funding has severely affected the Family Court which currently has 150 judges state-wide.


The State League has joined a state-wide coalition, spearheaded by the Fund and Committee for Modern Courts, to advocate for the judiciary budget request which includes the addition of 20 new Family Court Judges throughout the state. The coalition consists of a very diverse group of members, from good government organizations to Bar Associations, Child Welfare organizations, parents, families and children and any group of concerned citizens willing to participate. The coalition will campaign for the addition of 20 new Family Court Judges through letters to the governor and legislators, through advocacy days and visits to Senate and Assembly members.


The Office of Court Administration has included $5 million in its budget request which will cover the expense of the 20 additional judges from January 2015 to the end of the budget year. The governor is required to pass the judiciary budget request along to the legislature without changes, although he can comment on it. In addition to legislative budget approval, the legislators must also pass a bill to add the 20 new judgeships. Local Leagues will be asked to approach their legislators urging them to support the budget request and the additional judgeships. It is the right course to pursue for the sake of the children and families caught in limbo by unconscionable delays, before some of the most important decisions in their lives are being made. 2014 may turn out to be the year to get this crucial issue resolved, and we hope the individual Leagues will help accomplish it. Please stay tuned for updates on action plans, sample letters and implementation strategy! 


Carol Mellor, camellor@aol.com

On Wednesday, January 22, we held the second of our Update on Issues conference call. Over 40 members signed up for the call, which centered on current energy and environment issues such as fracking and waste management.


Elisabeth (Beth) Radow, the Chair of the Committee on Committee on Energy, Agriculture and the Environment presented a wide ranging, thorough and riveting report on the issues of concern to anyone interested in the protection of our water, air and health. Details of her remarks will be sent to those who participated in the call, and will be made available on our website in a short while.


Among the points contained in Beth's presentation are a reiteration of the fact that fracking is not, at the present time, being practiced in this state and, as a result, other concerns are at the forefront of the committees' work such as efforts to pass legislation which would characterize and require the treatment of waste from gas drilling as "hazardous waste." Use of fracking byproducts on roads in this state and concerns about transportation of waste materials into this state through our railroads and vehicle roads.   Other topics discussed are the proposed offshore liquefied natural gas facility off the shore of New York City and other plans in New York State to retrofit older energy facilities to enable them to process liquefied natural gas.


There was also discussion about the present League position on fracking, and how action can be taken to modify that position, updating them on current activity and exploring ways to act. If any member has suggestions for future conference calls, please contact Carol Mellor, camellor@aol.com.


STATE STUDIES: Term Limits & Ballot Access
Sarah Podber, sarah@lwvny.org 

Because of comments from our local Leagues, the timing for the state studies on term limits and ballot access has been revised. The State Study Committees will distribute the consensus questions by the end of June 2014. Local Leagues will be asked to hold consensus meetings during the fall 2014 or Jan 2015. A consensus report from the local League will be due on January 31, 2015. New materials, with discussion questions, will be distributed for both studies in the next couple of weeks. The discussion questions will help guide your local study group in their meetings.Don't forget that all materials are available on the state League website - click here


The state League is still planning a study on the delegate selection process at a Constitutional Convention. Materials will be sent out shortly so that each local League can schedule a meeting to discuss and consider consensus questions to update this position. We haven't forgotten - it is still coming! 


Judie Gorenstein, judiel728@aol.com

As chair of Youth program services, I was delighted when Debbie Reisner, President of LWV of Rye, Ryebrook and Port Chester invited me to demonstrate Vote 18 at a workshop for LWV board members and community leaders in Westchester County.   I have been presenting Vote 18 to high school classes since 2008 and have found that it provides an excellent interactive lesson plan to engage students in not only learning the history of voting , but gives them an opportunity to discuss hot political issues which are relevant to them, and shows them the power and importance of their vote.    


The newest studies shows that of eligible voters are between 18 and 30 years old and this continues to be the age group with the lowest turnout at the polls. Even in the presidential election , when turnout is the highest, only 45% of this age group voted in 2012 as compared to 57 % of all age groups. The Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge Report, which I mentioned in last month's report, stresses the need for civic education and political engagement in schools, particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods.  


This year, LWVUSEF has provided Leagues with a pass through grant to register youth. Several local Leagues have received this grant and have participated in webinars where they were learned of practices for registering young voters; ie, doing the voter registration in classrooms rather than auditoriums and having students interact rather than just be passive listeners.  


Vote 18 uses these best practices. Over the years, the lesson plan has been modified to include some of the most recent statistics and the disenfranchisement of voters in some parts of the country. The lesson plan can easily be done in 45 min. including the time it takes to register the student to vote. The participants in the workshop that Debbie Reisner arranged included not only League members, but community leaders and students from a Hispanic community. They all found the workshop worthwhile and plan on bringing it to their schools. This is not a difficult or time consuming program for your youth committees or voter service committees to do. Anyone wishing to get the amended lesson plan can contact me at judiel728@aol.com.   However, each school is different, each class is different, and each presenter can and will need to make modifications of their own. The goal is always the same: engage the students and motivate them to become educated voters and of course to vote.  



Online Donation Match A Success - Thank You to All! 

During the last few weeks of 2013, we offered online donors to the Education Foundation the chance to have their gifts matched. We are happy to report that the match was a resounding success. We raised a total of $10,885. This represents a 250% increase in online gifts from the same time last year and we welcomed 26 brand new donors to the Education Foundation. Thank you to all who made donations!


Create a Lasting Legacy for the League

The League has been around for almost 100 years, in part because of the vitality of our members and mission, and also because members who have gone before have remembered the League in their wills. Bequests are the most popular way donors make deferred gifts. By making a bequest to the League, you can maintain control of your assets during your lifetime and still support the League for the next generation of members. You can make a bequest that is a percentage of your estate or stipulate a specific dollar amount. To find out more about naming the League in your will, contact Kate Jankowski, Communications and Development Coordinator, at (518) 465-4162 or via e-mail at kate@lwvny.org.


Local League News

In Scarsdale, Ben Boykin, White Plains Common Council member and County Legislator-Elect for District 5, will meet with LWV of Scarsdale members to discuss issues he expects to address in his first term on the County Board of Legislators, followed by Q & A. In the beginning of January, the LWV of Somers hosted County Legislators, Peter Harckham and Mike Kaplowitz who discussed the changes that are taking place in County government and how they affect the citizens. LWV of Mid-Hudson is holding a meeting with Ulster County's Election Commissioners, Tom Turco (R) and Vic Work (D), who will speak on and answer questions about Ballot Access.  


LWV of the Syracuse Metro Area will host an open panel discussion on Immigration Then and Now: The Current Debate on Immigration Issues in February. They have also recently hosted forums with the Syracuse School Board candidates and a panel discussing human trafficking.


LWV of Syracuse also held a meeting to give their members an update on the Moreland Commission. Barbara Bartoletti, state League Legislative Director and Moreland Commission Special Advisor, and Commission Co-Chair, Onondaga County DA William Fitzpatrick, presented the preliminary findings of the Committee.


Representing LWV of Albany County, Aimee Allaud provided testimony at a public meeting of the Albany County's Charter Review Commission. This testimony represents a milestone in the work of a League study team co-chaired by Ann Brandon and Judy Wing. The recommendations have evolved from positions developed by the League over a period of more than 40 years. They represent examples of means to creating greater accountability and efficiency in county government.


Assemblywoman, and League member, Patricia Fahy was the guest speaker at the LWV of Albany's holiday luncheon. She gave a personal account of her first year in the New York State Assembly with highlights about her work on coalition building around the Women's Equality Act Agenda.   


League members were or will be honored around the state recently for their hard work in their communities. The LWV of White Plains will honor Bobbi Baker and Roberta Lazarus for their many years of dedicated service during their annual Winter Party this month. LWV of Broome and Tioga Counties will honor Mary Diegert at their Women of Achievement event on March 19th. Mary has been an active member of the League for over 50 years. This past month New York City League of Women Voters Co-President, Mary Lou Urban was awarded a Galaxy Award by the New York Women's Agenda.  Mary Lou was awarded for her many years of service to both the New York City League and the New York State League of Women Voters.   


The Natural Resources Committee of LWV or Tompkins County will provide a public program on January 27, entitled: The Adirondack Park and Our Regional Forests: Our Treasures to Enjoy and Protect. The speakers will be: Dick Booth, member of the New York State Governing Board for the Adirondack Park, and Andy Zepp, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust.


The New York City League hosted their January Lunch with the League meeting featuring guest speaker RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development to discuss the issue of affordable housing in NYC.  Click here for photos and more info. LWV of NYC's next "Lunch with the League" is scheduled for Thursday, February 6th ; State League Legislative Director Barbara Bartoletti will be the featured guest speaker to discuss Campaign Finance Reform. For more info, click here.  


The LWV of Buffalo/Niagara is sponsoring a program on human trafficking during February. "Challenges and Strategies to Combat Human Trafficking" will feature Deputy Elizabeth Fildes. Deputy Fildes is the Program Director of Human Trafficking for the Erie County Sheriff's Office. She is a world-renowned and sought after speaker on human trafficking issues. LWV of Rochester offered a program on Sexually Exploited Children:Right Here in Monroe County! Who are They? The panelists included Sgt. Mark Freese, Major Crimes Bureau, Rochester Police Department; Nolica Murray-Fields, Safe Harbor Coordinator, Center for Youth Services; and Robert Way, Senior Caseworker, Child Protective Service, Monroe County Department of Human Services.  


The LWV of Chautauqua County is hosting a program called "Water Purity of the Chautauqua Watershed." The speaker for the program will be John Jablonski, executive director of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. The LWV of Cortland is orgagnizaing an educational forum in February to provide a foundation for residents who seek to engage in upcoming decisions regarding the future of the landfill.  


In December, the League of Women Voters of Southwest Nassau held a well-attended meeting on "Hidden Hunger on Long Island." Speakers from each of two organizations, "The Island Harvest and the Interfaith Nutrition Network" (The INN), presented some hard facts about the people in need right in their community.  "Poverty" is the theme of the Schenectady League this year. The speaker at their Holiday Luncheon was Michael Saccocio, Executive Director of the City Mission, who described "The Culture of Poverty." Mr. Saccocio has been at the City Mission, working with people in extreme poverty, for close to 25 years. He came with a depth of understanding of the issues underlying poverty.  


The Education Committee of the LWV of the Hamptons held a video contest called, "Promote the Vote." It was designed to inspire young people to promote getting out to vote. The kids, ages 10-18, sent 60-second videos and the winners received $100 gift cards. The quality and creativity of the videos was terrific and this inspired the plan for a spring event at which professional filmmakers will teach a small group of selected high school students to produce voting videos. LWV of Smithtown received a $1,000 grant from LWVUS Education Foundation to help them target a greater number of students as they become first-time voters. Specifically, they will be focusing on reaching out to students in under-represented communities of Suffolk County.


Is your local League sending its bulletin or newsletter to the state listserve? If you send it to the listserve (www.localleaguebulletineditors@lwvny.org), it will be posted on the state website and information will be used for the State Voter here!

League of Women Voters of New York State
62 Grand Street, Albany, NY 12207
Tel: 518-465-4162;  FAX: 518-465-0812
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS