League of Women Voters of NYS


March 2015

From the State League Office

Have you looked at our state League website recently? If not, you should (lwvny.org).


The state League has been a flurry of activity since the start of this legislative session just a few months ago. We have distributed numerous memos in support of legislation, testified in front of joint budget committees, sent letters commenting on regulations, joined others at press conferences and directly lobbied many legislators. What topic interests you? We covered education, ethics, environment, women's issues, election law, transparency and more! Everyday we are posting more action that we have taken. Check out the website daily to stay informed of League actions. 


We are also beginning preparations for our 15th annual Students Inside Albany Conference. We will have 62 students from across the state join us for 3 days in Albany. Arrangements for speakers, legislative shadows, and roommates (always a big issue) are all underway. 


And, the 56th State League Convention is just a couple of months away. A registration kit has been mailed to each local Leagues and is posted on the website. The Convention is being held June 6-7 at the Desmond Hotel in Albany. We will have workshops on Saturday morning and plenary (business meeting) in the afternoon. Caucuses will be organized for Saturday evening. Come join the fun and learn more about how the state League operates!


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


America Goes to the Polls
America Goes to the Polls

Report on Voter Participation Rates in 2014 General Election

As recent study was released by Nonprofit Vote, a nonpartisan resource that helps nonprofits integrate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services, summarized voter participation rates for the 2014 general election. New York State ranked 49th out of the 50 states plus DC with only 29% of eligible voters actually voting. The report found that states with competitive elections or election day registration had much higher rates of participation than other states. Seven of the top 10 states allowed same day (election day) registration. Click here to see the full report (also posted on the state website). Use this information to engage more people in our voter registration activities, Vote 411 advertisements, and other voter services events. 

Have you "liked" the League on
Facebook? Click here.

Have you donated to the League? We need your support to maintain our strength, visibility and programs. Click here to support the League's many activities. 

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 the state office at 518-465-4162 or send a check to make an order. You can also order online from the state website. 

Spring Workshops

Spring Regional Workshops/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; NYS currently ranks last of all states and DC in the percentage of residents who are registered to be organ donors. NYAD and our local Leagues will coordinate a number of voter registration 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. The hope is that we can increase both voter registrations and organ and tissue donor registrations together!


In order to learn more about this partnership, the League is offering a series of educational sessions around the state. These educational sessions will provide an overview of organ and tissue donation in New York State, specifics about the grant, role of the Leagues and important information on what is necessary to meet the project's goals and objectives.  Mark your calendar today to participate in one of the following sessions (lunch is included at no charge): 

  • April 11 from 11:00am - 3:00pm at McKnownville Methodist Church in Albany
  • April 18 from 11:00am - 3:00pm at 4 West 43rd Street in New York City (building where LWVNYC is housed)
  • May 9 from 11:00am - 3:00pm Rochester Area (location to be determined)
  • May 26 at 7:00pm via webinar (only on the organ donation grant program)


Financial benefits will be available to local Leagues who agree to participate in the program. Local Leagues will be eligible for stipends of $100-200 and receive free and reduced cost Voter Guides. Additional materials on organ donation will also be available, as well as public relations materials for advertising voter registration drives and the partnership program. Additional money will be available to help local Leagues pay for "table fees" at specific events in their area. One person from the local League MUST attend one of the training session (the webinar can count, too) to be eligible for these benefits and to participate in the program.

Sign up now for the training session - click here for registration form or call the state office at 518-465-4162.


Other topics will be discussed in the afternoon training sessions. These topics may vary depending on the interest of those attending. The schedule for the workshops is as follows:

11:00-12:00     Organ Donation Program training

12:00- 1:00       Lunch (provided) and networking with League members

 1:00 -  3:00      How do we get our League jobs done with the people resources we have?


Sign up now! All members are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Sally Robinson, President, robintwins@gmail.com
This year Governor Cuomo linked multiple issues with the state budget in an attempt to use it as leverage with the legislature.  We are coming down to the wire on the budget deadline of April 1 and as of yesterday some issues had been "de-coupled" from the budget - the Education Investment Tax Credit which the League opposes and the Dream Act on which we have no position.  However the Governor is still demanding ethics reforms be accomplished with the budget and he has reached an agreement with the Assembly on some ethics measures. The League views these measures as an improvement over the status quo - stronger and more complete disclosure of outside income, pension forfeiture risks for all public officials convicted of corruption, per diem reform with verification, and marginally tighter restrictions on personal use of campaign funds.  But in our statement with other good government groups, http://goo.gl/t3UtWL, we noted what was not in the agreement - stronger ethics enforcement, comprehensive campaign finance reform with public financing that closes the LLC loophole and bans all personal use of campaign funds, strong disclosure and accountability for all executive and legislative discretionary lump sum funds, and most importantly a commitment to undertake the necessary examination and full-scale overhaul of our ethics and campaign finance laws.


Once the budget is agreed upon and we know what issues have remained unresolved, we will send local Leagues another Legislative packet on these issues and other items on our Legislative Agenda and ask you to lobby your state legislators again.

Ballot Access and Term Limits Consensus Studies

In a meeting scheduled for April 15 the state board will adopt and announce a ballot access position based on the results of the ballot access study.  Although a sufficient number and geographic diversity of local Leagues participated in the term limits study to have made consensus possible, the necessary 2/3 agreement was not there to reverse the League's opposition to term limits at the state level.


Transportation: Gladys Gifford (schuford@earthlink.net)
The budget process in the NYS legislature is moving forward to meet the April 1st deadline. Each house has already produced its own budget; now the negotiations begin. The focus for transportation is on funding for public transit, both for operating assistance and for increased capital funding. Since the funding for NYC-area needs ( i.e., the MTA) is dealt with separately, the specific transit systems involved for these budget negotiations are those that serve upstate and suburban areas outside of NYC.

As of this writing, both the NYS Senate and Assembly one-house budgets include significant increases in both operating and capital assistance for transit systems across the state. This strong support from the legislature for transit systems outside of the MTA is encouraging, contrasted with the flat support from Governor Cuomo's budgets for the last six years. See www.nytransit.org for more detailed analysis for each transit system.

Action: encourage legislators to stand firm on increased funding for non-MTA transit systems; contact Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Skelos and Assembly Speaker Heastie to urge that the final budget include the improvements now offered by each house.

As you plan for the LWVNYS Convention, June 5-7, consider dropping by the transportation caucus/networking area- location and time TBA. See you there!

Committee on Energy, Agriculture and the Environment, Beth Radow, Chair (enradow@gmail.com)
The Committee on Energy, Agriculture and the Environment submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation written comments to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Port Ambrose Project Deepwater Port Application. Click here to view the written comments. In addition, the Committee is joining other organizations in a letter to Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Majority Leader Carl Heastie supporting legislation called the Microbead-Free Waters Act (A. 5896 Schimel / S. 3932 O'Mara) which bans plastic microbeads in personal care products. Scientific studies demonstrate that these microbeads are polluting New York's waterways.

Healthcare Committee, Madeline Zevon, Chair, (Madeline.zevon@gmail.com)
An economic analysis of the New York Health Act (A5062 (Gottfried)/S3525 (Perkins), a single-payer bill, has been released. The study was conducted by Gerald Friedman, PhD, Chair of the Department of Economics, UMass Amherst. By reducing billing expenses, administrative waste, monopolistic pricing of drugs and medical devices, and fraud, NY Health would reduce spending by 25 percent, or more than $70 billion, in 2019. New York Health would expand coverage to all uninsured, eliminate co-pays and deductibles and correct the underpayment of Medicaid and Medicare services. NY Health would be funded by payroll assessments and assessments on non-payroll income (capital gains, dividends and interest), graduated according to income. The largest savings would go to those earning less than $75,000, but over 98% of New York households would spend less on health care than they now spend. Click here for the study.

The bill has passed the Health Committee in the Assembly. It will likely be brought up in Codes in April/early May. Then it needs to go through Ways and Means before getting to the floor. We think if we are successful the vote would be sometime in mid to late May. The statewide single payer lobby Day will be on Tues. May 5th in Albany in support of New York Health (Gottfried/Perkins New York Health Act A5062/S3525). We need YOU to help pass the bill in the State Assembly this session. If you plan on attending, please contact Madeline at email: madeline.zevon@gmail.com .

The Healthcare Committee is planning to conduct a caucus at the State League Convention - watch for time and location.

Women's Issues, Barb Thomas, (barb.thomas@nycap.rr.com)
A.506, the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act, one of the points of the Women's Equality Agenda (WEA), passed the Assembly on March 16 and is awaiting Gov. Cuomo's signature. The next day a Paid Family Leave Insurance (PFLI) bill providing for 12 weeks of leave passed the Assembly, and a Senate proposal for 6 weeks is reportedly in their budget. (Click here for Paid Family Leave Act.) Negotiation and lobbying will be needed to make PFLI law. The Assembly is expected to pass the A.6221, the reproductive rights bill on March 25, but this is the point that the Senate has so far refused to take up. (Click here for Memo of Support on this bill) Equal Pay Day is April 14, so the Assembly is poised to pass A.6075, the Women's Equality bill, that makes it possible for employees to find out if they are receiving equal pay, when they return from recess the following week. The schedule for the remaining parts of the WEA, and for other bills important to women, is still fluid. Watch on the state League website for more Memos in Support and action on these important women's issues.

Judicial Issues, Helga Schroeter, (helgasasquith@verizon.net)
Currently, there are some potential changes in progress which may apply to criminal justice issues in NYS. The first one deals with the NYS grand jury system. After several cases of police involvement in the deaths of unarmed citizens resulted in no indictments by grand juries in several states, New York has been taking a critical look at its own system because of the Staten Island Eric Garner case. Several different proposals for change have been offered by the governor, the Attorney General and the Chief Judge of the court system. The LWVNYS has always advocated for a more transparent system, since NYS provides a very high degree of protection from release of personnel records for police, state troopers, etc. League advocates should stay tuned as the different proposals are being considered for legislative action.

The second issue on the front burner is the review of Juvenile Justice practices in NYS. The Governor's Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice has recently released its report with a number of recommendations for changes in the Juvenile Justice System. The most important proposal is the change of age in criminal responsibility from 16 to 19. Only NYS along with the state of North Carolina has such a low threshold. The League can justify its support for the proposal under its Alternatives to Incarceration position which would keep juveniles out of adult prisons. Other proposals for changes in the Juvenile Justice system will require a brief study to concur with the Ohio League's position on Juvenile Justice. 
Dare Thompson, darethompson@gmail.com

Reaching out for help is a sign of health, not weakness! Leagues stay healthy by continually training their members, sending them to workshops, participating in regional calls, and maybe using a Membership and Leadership Development (MLD) coach.  Savvy leagues also call the LWVNYS office, me or another board member, or confer with other league leaders in their region, when they have questions. Why reinvent the wheel or struggle with knotty problems in silence? 


Several opportunities to learn from your League allies are coming up soon.


Workshops in April and May in Albany, New York City, and Rochester, designed in part to tell you about the Organ Donation registration program, will include a free lunch so you can network with old and new League friends and then discuss how to make the most of the assets you have to do voter service and advocacy and also increase your membership, finances, and visibility. See details elsewhere here and on our website.


Our June 5 - 7 LWVNYS Convention will provide a whole weekend of networking as well as specific workshop opportunities on Saturday AM. We are especially glad to have Anne Schink, LWVUS Membership Chair, with us, and we'll make sure you have many opportunities to hear from and talk with her. Some Convention details have already been sent out and posted, but more will be coming soon.   


USE YOUR LEAGUE NETWORK to build your league!


56th State League Convention
Convention is Coming!

State Convention: June 5-7, 2015, in Albany

Sign up to attend the League's State Convention in Albany NOW! Registration is due April 8. See the Registration Kit on the website. If you have more members who want to attend than you are assigned delegate spots, let the state office know and we'll find other delegate spots for you. We want a large attendance for this exciting educational opportunity and productive business meeting of the state League. The Pre-Convention Kit will be mailed to all members who register as a delegate and posted on the website; this will include the program planning proposals, Nominating Committee report, proposed 2015-16 Budget and proposed bylaw amendments.


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 to download the forms.

Youth Programs
Judie Gorenstein, judieL728@aol.com
We all know that youth are our future.  They can be a force for change.   Our local leagues can flourish when we have strong youth programs as they not only engage our youth but also inspire our members.  Many leagues have ongoing youth programs while others are looking to begin them.  At our 56th Biennial Convention, as at past conventions,  we will be holding a workshop where those leagues who have developed new programs or modified existing ones can show case what they are doing and other leagues can learn from them. Please contact me at Judiel728@aol.com or the league office, if you have a program you would like to share.  Also, remember there will be a youth program award.  You cannot win if you do not apply.  Looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you at convention.


Local League News

In honor of Women's History Month, the LWV of East Nassau invited two of the women on the Nassau County Legislature to discuss "Women's Role in Politics." Laura Curran (LD 5) and Laura Schaefer (LD 14) presented this topic on March 18th.


The LWV of Broome and Tioga Counties is holding a meeting to discuss Child Care Concerns on March 24th. They have invited panelists from the Family Enrichment Network, Mom's House, Tioga Opportunities, and Tioga County DSS to discuss the barriers facing families who must rely on child care. Members of the Early Childhood Education program at BCC will be in attendance to assist with arts and crafts for young children attending with their caregivers.


The LWV of Rensselaer is hosting "The Stone that Started the Ripple," a play written by Saratoga member Pat Nugent, on Thursday, March 26th. This play brings to life four famous suffragists in a spirited interchange about the unfinished business of women's rights in 21st century America. For more details, visit their website at:  www.lwvrc.org.


On April 9th , the LWV of the City of New York is holding Lunch with the League. Manhattan State Senator Liz Krueger will give an insider's view of the battle for campaign finance reform. Also, last month, Margaret Sullivan, The New York Times Ombudsman, was the speaker at March's Lunch with the League. She is pictured with the yellow rose of our movement. She talked on how she goes about the job of critiquing the most famous newspaper in the world.

The LWV of Saratoga County recently held their annual "Famous Person Fundraiser." The 2015 event was "Breakfast with Franklin Delano Roosevelt: 5 Women-5 Influences." They were also community partners for the One Woman. One World. Event on March 8th. This event was held in honor of International Women's Day.


Dr. Adam Law, MD, Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, and Liz Cameron, Director of Environmental Health, Tompkins County Health Department will present a program on "Healthy Water--Healthy PeopleWhat's in Our Water?" at the LWV of Tompkins County general membership meeting. Co-Sponsors include: Sustainable Tompkins, New York StateWide Senior Action Council, Ithaca Journal, Ithaca Health Alliance, Community Science Institute, Coalition for Safe Medication Disposal, Cayuga Watershed Network and AAUW. 

The LWV of Chemung County is holding a Women of Achievement event on March 26th. The featured speaker for the program will be Elmiran musician, Carrie Hooper, speaking on "Living with Blindness."


On Sunday, March 8, the LWV of the Rivertowns presented a forum at Mercy College about coping with deer in the suburbs. A diverse panel was convened to discuss deer habitat, deer behavior, and efforts to address the overabundance of these animals. 

"Systems of Renewable Energy" was the topic of a March 10th meeting of the LWV of the North Country. Local experts presented on wind, solar, and geothermal energy. The LWV of Oneonta also focused on renewable energy this month. Hannah Morgan, SUNY/Oneonta's Sustainability Coordinator will present a broad update on area happenings in renewable energy as well as solid waste on March 25th.


The LWV of the Rochester Metro Area held a program called, "The Grand Jury System: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How?" on March 23rd. The program explored the Grand Jury in its historical context and present-day usage in order to better understand proposed legislation. Also, their panelists will be guests on Connections with Evan Dawson on WXXI-1370AM.


The LWV of Scarsdale will hold a membership information session with Scarsdale Village Manager, Al Gatta, Deputy Village Manager, Steve Pappalardo and Village Treasurer, Mary Lou McClure, and members of the Village Board of Trustees regarding the proposed Village budget for 2015-2016 on March 30th.  On April 13th, the LWV of Somers will hear a "Report to the People" from members of the Town Board.


The LWV of Schenectady County hosted a luncheon featuring Rowie Taylor, Executive Director, Schenectady YWCA, called "Women's History and the YWCA" on March 18th. Their April meeting will include a presentation from Karen Bradley, Director, Schenectady County Public Library, on, "Planning the New Family Literacy Center."


The LWV of White Plains is sponsoring a Forum on Human Trafficking "Present Day Enslavement in our Communities" on April 15th. Confirmed Speakers: NYS Assemblywoman Amy Paulin; Gonzolo Martinez de Vedia of the Human Trafficking Program, Worker Justice Center; Carl J. Boykin, Director,  NYS Human Trafficking Department and Illegal Gun Trafficking and Kate Okamoto of Sanctuary for Families.


The LWV of Bedford, Lewisboro, and North Salem is holding a voter registration drive on April 21st at Fox Lane High School. They are also planning School Board Candidate forums for this spring.   The LWV of New Castle held, "A Conversation with Rob Greenstein, New Castle Town Supervisor," on March 10th. A video of this event is available on their website:www.lwvnewcastle.org.


"Drug Abuse in Chautauqua County:  Should we be part of the solution?" is the topic for a panel discussion hosted by the LWV of Chautauqua County on April 22nd. Panelists will include:  Harry Snellings, Chief of the Jamestown Police; Rick Huber, Executive Director for the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County; and Christine Schuyler, Director of Chautauqua County Health and Human Services. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney, Chairwoman of the Health Care Action Team.


On April 21st, the LWV of Albany County is holding a meeting titled, "The Road to Advocacy: How the League Moves from Taking a Position on Issues to Advocacy." They will review the process in the context of the LWVNYS 2015 Legislative Agenda and prepare for meetings with NYS legislators. Presented by Paula Philo and Aimee Allaud, with guest appearances by Laura Bierman, LWVNYS, and Barbara Bartoletti, LWVNYS Legislative Director.


The LWV of Buffalo/Niagara is hosting a panel on Living Wage: One Step to Equity on April 23rd.


An informal Coffee and Conversation program sponsored by the LWV of New Rochelle featured Alna Sweeney, president and CEO of United Way of Westchester and Putnam, and Alisa Kesten, executive director, Volunteer New York. These are small, informal and often spirited conversations with public or civic officals. The public is invited, and coffee and light refreshments are served.  On April 13th, the LWV of the Hamptons will present a free public information meeting on School Mergers. Local subject matter experts will discuss this topic. And, renowned author and journalist Gail Sheehy, will speak at their spring fundraising luncheon on April 24. Ms. Sheehy will discuss her new memoir titled "Daring:  My Passages."


The LWV of Port Washington/Manhasset hosted a panel discussion titled, "Democracy for Sale:  Money in Politics". Panelists included Liz Kennedy, Counsel, Demos; Susan Lerner, Executive Director, Common Cause; Bill Mahoney, Contributor, Capital NY; and Rosanna Perotti, Chair, Dept. of Political Science, Hofstra University.


This month, the LWV of Rye, Rye Brook, and Port Chester participated in the first of a series of structured meetings with other civic organizations in their community. These meetings bring together people who share a commitment to civic engagement but may see things differently. Members of the local Rotary Club, NAACP, Latino Network, and Windows of the Future also attended.


The LWV of Shelter Island will hold its Eighth Annual State of the Town Luncheon on April 26th. Supervisor Jim Dougherty will address the community about Town business and Island issues.


Starting this month, Lisa Scott, LWV of Smithtown, began facilitating a four-part reading and discussion series called, "Our World Remade: World War I." This program is sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities.


Members of the LWV of the Utica-Rome will welcome new citizens and distribute voter registration forms at two naturalization ceremonies in April.

The LWV of Scarsdale held a successful Winter Fundraiser last monthJanice and Ira Starrgraciously hosted the event.  Attendees were treated to delicious and abundant food and drink contributed by Board members and lively conversation. They were joined by New York State Senator Andrea Stewart- Cousins, New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, Westchester County Legislator Ben Boykin, Mayor Bob Steves, Village Trustees, School Board representatives, and Westchester County Family Court Judge Arlene KatzThis event raised over $3,400!  
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