League of Women Voters of NYS


February 2015  

From the President

Thanks to the over 40 people who braved the winter weather to join us in NYC for the state League's annual Advocacy Training Day. The attendees heard about the process used to reach our positions and how local Leagues can take action. They also heard from many of our Issue Specialists regarding the expected action in the legislature this session in their issue. The presentations and handouts are available on the state website at: http://www.lwvny.org/advocacy.html. Please contact the state League if you have questions or would like to take action on these issues.


The State League provided testimony in February before the Joint Fiscal Committees of the NYS Senate and Assembly on two parts of the proposed Executive Budget. Early in February, Marian Bott, Financing Education Specialist, presented testimony (click here) on the Elementary and Secondary Education budget. This past week, Barbara Bartoletti, LWVNYS Legislative Director, presented testimony (click here) covering election law reform, ethics reform and campaign finance reform as part of the Public Protection part of the Executive Budget. Both testimonies are also posted on the state website. 



Sally Robinson, President

League of Women Voters of NYS
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS
The 2015 State League Convention will be held on 
June 6-7, 2015, at the Desmond Hotel in Albany. Mark your calendars now to join us!
Travel with the League
Click here for the latest newsletter from Travel Concepts.
Constitutional Convention Position Update
At the state League convention two years ago, the delegates voted to update our current position on Constitutional Convention with an emphasis on the method of delegate selection. The materials for the update are here and will also be sent to all local League Presidents separately. A chapter from the book, Decision 1997, published by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute, is also available here. This book is considered the most comprehensive source of information on the constitutional convention process. The excerpt includes the Delegate portion section of the Commission report and provides details on both sides of several issues related to the delegate selection process.

This is an update with a limited scope and we are not changing any of the substantive aspects of the current position. Therefore we are asking local Leagues to approve the updated position instead of  responding to questions and then the state Board developing the updated position. 


The memo giving the background and explaining the updated position is only a couple pages long and should be very easy to understand. If you have any questions, you can call the state office, email Laura, or email me at robintwins@gmail.com. While we recommend that you discuss the update in a general membership meeting attached to a board meeting, your board can use other methods to get input from your local League members on the update, including soliciting their input by email. Return the completed form to the state office by May 30, 2015.
2015 State League Convention
A Voice for Citizens, A Force for Change
The State League Convention will be held on June 6-7, 2015, at the Desmond Hotel in Albany. The theme is "A Voice for Citizens, A Force for Change."  

The Registration Kit for the League's State Convention to be held at the Desmond Hotel in Albany from June 5-7, has been mailed to all local Leagues. The Kit is here and posted on the state website. All members should consider joining us for this educational event. It is a great time to meet other League leaders, learn what other local Leagues are doing, and also help direct the state League's agenda and leadership for the next two years. Each local League is allotted a number of delegates based on their membership, but we always have extra spots so if you have more people who want to attend than the number of delegates your local League is allotted, call the state office and we'll find more delegate spots for you. Registration is due on April 8th.


Don't forget to submit your local League or members for an award! Think of all the great activities and events you coordinate - and get recognized for that great work. Submissions are due on April 15, 2015. Click here for the forms.

The state League bylaws are available here. Take a look at them and email the state League (Laura@lwvny.org) if you would like to suggest any revisions. Suggested amendments are due to the state office by March 1, 2015.
Organ Donor Registration with Voter Registration

Organ Donation Grant

The League is pleased to announce an innovative partnership with the New York Alliance for Donation (NYAD). NYAD's mission is to increase organ, eye and tissue donation in New York State through collaborative advocacy, education, promotion, and research.  Their goal is to ensure a transplant for every New Yorker in need.


In 2009, NYS became the first state to include an organ and tissue donor enrollment section on voter registration forms.  Since inception, over 160,000 individuals have joined the New York State Donate Life Organ and Tissue Donor Registry via voter registration forms.  Prior to implementation, 95% of individuals who joined the donor registry did so through the state's DMV offices.  Though the majority of registrants still enroll through the DMV, in 2013, over 15% of all Registry enrollments were made via voter registration forms, significantly decreasing the percentage of enrollments made at DMV offices as seen in prior years. 


This partnership seeks to extend pilot work conducted by NYAD in the New York City area in spring and summer of 2013. The pilot work consisted of a series of voter registration drives that sought to solicit organ and tissue donor registrations through voter registration forms. 56 campaigns took place at various locations in New York City. The majority of drives were located at high transit areas, such as transportation hubs (Penn Station, subways) and on college campuses. The idea was to 'get the vote out' and in so doing to get individuals to also consider registering to become organ and tissue donors. These campaign drives were staffed by volunteers and organ and tissue donation community staff members.  4,979 individuals registered to vote through these 56 drives, and the drives netted 2,290 new organ and tissue donor registrants. In other words, 46% of all individuals who registered as voters during these drives also registered as organ and tissue donors.


The project will rely on interpersonal communication campaigns to promote organ and tissue donation registration at voter registration drives through the voter registration form. NYAD and our local Leagues will coordinate a number of drives in highly populated and public areas. Our local Leagues will also be trained to encourage more people to register for organ and tissue donations during the League's voter registration drives. Prior to the implementation, NYAD and LWVNY will work together to provide reciprocal education on organ and tissue donation and voter registration to those responsible for conducting these drives. The hope is that we can increase both voter registrations and organ and tissue donor registrations together!


Local Leagues can benefit by agreeing to participate in this program. There are stipends that will be given to local Leagues (approximately $100-200), training will be provided for free, Voter Guides will be available for free and reduced cost, other brochures and public relations materials will be available, and money will be available for fees for tables at special events where local Leagues may wish to conduct voter registration drives. More information will be emailed to local Leagues in the next few weeks with details - but think about how you could join this effort which will allow you to reduce costs and raise some income for your local League's voter services activities!


Kate Jankowski, kate@lwvny.org

The League Matters Campaign and LWV of Albany County Challenge

is a Success

As part of our special fundraising effort, the League Matters Campaign, the LWV of Albany County challenged the state League to raise $25,000 between December and the League's birthday on February 14, 2015. Thanks to the generosity of over 160 donors, we raised $27,045 during that time and will now receive an additional $10,000 from their League.


We are grateful to the LWV of Albany County for their generous support of the League Matters Campaign and thank them for helping us raise $35,000 towards our overall goal of $400,000.

 Further, we have been informed that two other local Leagues - LWV of Mid-Hudson and the LWV of Buffalo/Niagara - are also making gifts to the state League because they were inspired by the Albany League challenge.


Gifts to the League Matters Campaign support the Education Foundation and help safeguard our future. They will allow the state League to enhance our role as the premier educator and advocate for good government issues and citizen participation in the electoral process.


The League Matters Campaign is a three year fundraising effort with a goal of raising $400,000 above and beyond our normal Annual Fund. The Campaign began in July 2012 and will conclude June 30, 2015.  

State Office News

Legislative Agenda Booklet

The new Legislative Agenda booklet was sent to all local Leagues. This booklet provides more information on the issues the state League expects to monitor and lobby this legislative session. Additional copies are available at a cost of $20 per 100, plus tax and shipping. Use these booklets when speaking with elected officials or as a membership tool at events. It's a great introduction to the League's positions.


Legislative Reference Guide

The 2015 Legislative Reference Guide is now available for purchase from the state League. This book provides key information on each NYS Senator and NYS Assemblymember, including contact info in the district and Albany offices, committee assignments, and staff name. It is incredibly useful for lobbying your legislators. The cost is $10 which includes tax and shipping; call Katrina (518-465-4162) or send a check to make an order. You can also order online from the state website. 

Vote 411

It's hard to believe that it's time again, but Vote 411 is now active! Some local Leagues are using it for school board elections (May) so they have already begun the process. Once again, the state League will pay the license for Vote 411, but requires each local League to pay $25. If you haven't already told us, email Victoria at Victoria@lwvny.org and tell her that your local League will be using Vote 411 and who the contact will be. We are also willing to provide training if you have a member who is willing to work with the program!



UN Commission on the Status of Women

Opportunity to Attend League Event at United Nations in March 2015
The fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 March 2015. Members of the League of Women Voters are invited to attend a side event hosted by the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations and co-sponsored by the LWVUS, International Federation of Business & Professional Women, Pan Pacific Southeast Asia Women's Association and UN Women. Speakers include members of Parliament from Germany, Turkey, Azerbaijan, the Director of the Policy Division of UN Women and moderated by a former US diplomat. LWVUS will have 20 delegates attending CSW59 and can accommodate additional attendance at the side event. Please contact Rosalee Keech unobserver@lwv.org if interested.


LWV of Rensselaer is hosting The Stone that Started the Ripple, a play written by Saratoga member Pat Nugent. This play brings to life four famous suffragists in a spirited interchange about the unfinished business of women's rights in the 21st century America. 

Judy Weinstein of LWV of Rochester Metro Area shared a video explaining the instant run-off voting used in the counting of ballots for the Oscars - great explanation of how it would work in our elections, too. The link to the video is on the League's website at http://www.lwv-rma.org/ .

Bakken Breakout: The Crude Oil Invasion is the topic of a potluck supper and program for the

LWV of Albany County. Sally Steubing from People of Albany United for Safe Energy (PAUSE) will be the speaker.  PAUSE is a grass-roots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice.


The Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Foods was the hot topic of a luncheon for LWV of Chautauqua. Speakers included a professor of biology from SUNY-Fredonia, and an organic farmer. 


The LWV of East Nassau is holding a candidate forum prior to a Special Election to fill the vacant seat in the Nassau County 19th Legislative District. Both candidates for the position have agreed to attend the forum. The event will be co-sponsored by the League and the Merrick Library.


The LWV of Rye, Rye Brook, and Port Chester held their annual Fireside History Chat this past November. Historian David Auerbach discussed, "The Enigma of Richard M. Nixon: Prelude to Watergate."   This League will be conducting candidates' forums for the Port Chester March 18 Mayoral Election and for local school trustee elections to the extent that there are contested elections.


 "New York's Epic Stand Against Fracking" was the subject of the LWV of Broome and Tioga Counties' presentation by author and journalist, Tom Wilbur this month. Mr. Wilbur discussed how the Cuomo Administration's decision to ban shale gas development in New York reflects critical energy and environmental issues in the 21st century.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt is coming to LWV of Saratoga's Annual Famous Person Fundraiser to speak about "5 Women - 5 Influences."


The LWV of the Syracuse Metro Area is hosting their annual Breakfast with Your State Legislators on March 6th.

Congratulations to Doris Reed, a dedicated member of the League for over 30 years, for being honored by the LWV of Broome and Tioga Counties as their 2015 Woman of Achievement. 

The 95th birthday of the League was celebrated this month by the LWV of Huntington. LWV of Albany also celebrated the League's birthday as you can see President, Lois Griffin, cutting the birthday cake!



The AAUW Buffalo Branch and the LWV of Buffalo/Niagara are co-sponsoring a celebration of International Women's Day on March 8th. Their program, "Declaring Equality: Renewing a Legacy," will include a discussion between Buffalo attorney Nadia Shahram, author, activist, Moslem women's rights advocate, and president of The Coalition for the Advancement of Moslem Women; and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a convenor of the first women's rights movement, as portrayed by Dr. Melinda Grube, historian and adjunct professor who has studied Stanton's works and life extensively.


The LWV of the Rivertowns recently held a breakfast titled, "Westchester's Crumbling Infrastructure." County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky led the discussion on this topic.


The Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation (North County Water Districts) will be the topic of a March meeting of the LWV of Chautauqua County. A. J. Dolce, Dunkirk Mayor, and Dan Schrantz, Portland Town Supervisor, will be presenting on this topic.


For a little over a year, the LWV of Cortland County has been studying solid waste management in their area. Their Environmental Committee has been carefully studying a proposed Cortland-Onondaga Partnership to exchange Onondaga County's incinerator ash for Cortland's trash. On Jan. 5, 2015, the LWVCC Board voted to support Solid Waste Solutions proposed by a local citizens Environmental Advisory Board. Several League members contributed to these proactive solutions, which promote the 4Rs (Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, and Rebuy) and financing of solid waste services through integrated, sustainable methods. After further study of LWV positions at the US, state, and local levels, the LWVCC board voted on Feb. 3, 2015 to oppose the Ash for Trash project stating that, "Incineration is an outdated technology that produces dangerous pollution and is an inefficient means of producing energy."


The LWV of Rye, Rye Brook, and Port Chester held their annual Fireside History Chat this past November. Historian David Auerbach discussed, "The Enigma of Richard M. Nixon: Prelude to Watergate."   This League will be conducting candidates' forums for the Port Chester March 18 Mayoral Election and for local school trustee elections to the extent that there are contested elections.


Congratulations to Eleanor Kolchin, former member of the LWV of East Nassau, for winning the 2014 National Center for Women and Technology Pioneer Award. 





The LWV of Huntington had a successful Voter 18 presentation at the Deer Park High School. Five classes participated in the interactive program which addressed the history of voting in the US. The importance of registering to vote and then utilizing that power was stressed. Two students at each session volunteered to run as candidates during a mock election. They based their election speeches on relevant topics such as, how to handle the illegal immigrant status in our country, should marijuana be legalized, and should the national minimum wage be raised. After the speeches, the "voters" filled out secret ballots. The winner of the mock election in each class received a LWV bookmark with the bill of rights on it. The students also filled out registratio n forms under the direction of League members, who answered their questions. According to Fran Hyde, who presented the program with other League members, "The students' active participation, respectful demeanor and enthusiasm underscored our satisfaction with the program, the support of the school and the teachers." 


March is Women's History Month and Freedom of Information Month-both great reasons to plan a League event. Have fun!

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