Making Democracy Work

Issues/Actions

LWV Utica Rome is currently engaged in a number of projects and studies. These include the following issues.

Legislative Agenda/ Impact on Issues

The League of Women Voters of New York State (LWVNYS) encourages informed and active participation in government and influences public policy through advocacy and education. The 2017 Legislative Agenda highlights some of the key issues that we anticipate taking significant action on in the current Legislative Session.

Impact on Issues is now updated at the end of every legislative session, however, the summary of our positions are only updated after a biennial convention.

Summary of Public Policy

2016 Impact on Issues

Citizens Action Toolkit

A central part of the mission of the League of Women Voters is to encourage active and informed participation in government. To that end, the League has created this easy-to-use resource that enables users to find a wealth of information about our state and federal governments.

Please use the action center to contact your elected officials, or to send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Support League issues with just a few clicks of your mouse or take a moment to craft a letter of your own. Sign up for action alerts on the issues that are important to you. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD WITH A CLICK OF A BUTTON!

NYS Constitutional Convention Question

League of Women Voters of New York State Announces Support for 2017 Constitutional Convention Ballot Question

Albany, New York (March 27, 2017) - The League of Women Voters of New York State announced today its support for calling a New York State Constitutional Convention. On November 7, 2017, New Yorkers will have an opportunity, which occurs only once every 20 years, to call for a Constitutional Convention to be convened in 2019 to consider changes to the New York State Constitution. Any proposed changes recommended by the Convention would be subject to voter approval. Full Press Release

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On November 7, 2017, voters will go into voting booths throughout New York State and, as they are every 20 years, be asked to decide the constitutionally mandated question, "Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?"

Some background... The New York State Constitution mandates that every 20 years voters be presented with this ballot question. A constitutional convention allows delegates, elected by the people, to gather and examine our state's Constitution. The delegates can strike current text and propose changes and new provisions to the document. Changes to language can be made for greater clarity and understanding, or to streamline what is already in place. New provisions would serve to address issues that the current constitution does not address. Our Constitution is over two centuries old; changes can help to address the modern issues we face in the 21st century. All convention proposals must be put before the people who ultimately decide whether or not they will support or oppose the recommended changes.

Since 1777 New York State has held nine Constitutional Conventions, four of which resulted in the adoption of new constitutions. We are now governed by the 1894 Constitution, which has been amended over 225 times. Each new constitutional amendment has added additional bulk to the already verbose state Constitution, seven times longer than the US Constitution and one of the longest state constitutions in the nation.

NYS Constitution as of 1/1/15

Briefing Paper on Constitutional Convention

Powerpoint Presentation on Constitutional Convention

Video - Should we have a Constitutional Convention? League of Women Voters of White Planes forum on holding a Constitutional Convention. This forum was presented by Sally Robinson, LWVNYS Vice President of Issues and Advocacy.

Video of Panel Discussion on the History of the Original NYS Constitution

More information on NYS Constitutional Conventions

How to Legislatively Amend the Constitution

Summary of Convention Amendments

NY Paid Family Leave

The NYS Workers' Compensation Board and the Department of Financial Services filed their regulations for implementation of the new Paid Family Leave law. The new regulations will provide guidance for employers, employees and insurance carriers about their responsibilities and rights under the law.

Summaries of the regulations at the Department of Financial Services and the Worker's Compensation Board are linked. The state is expected to provide a Frequently Asked Questions link soon.

New York State has also released the website portal and the help-line for New York's new Paid Family Leave program. Check out the website: http://www.ny.gov/paidfamilyleave. The Governor's Helpline is 844-337-6303.

Increasing Voter Participation

Increasing Voter Participation: Opportunities in New York State (12/12/2011)

Ready-made materials for presentation at an educational community forum on opportunities to increase voter participation in NYS. Voter registration modernization, early voting systems and improved ballot design, poll worker training and voter education are all discussed in the materials. See what other states have done in these areas and how they could be implemented in NYS. Finally, recommendations for short term and long term actions are offered.

Power Point Presentation
Background Paper
Power Point Presentation - The War on Voting in the Modern Era (2/16/2012)
Presentation by Tim O'Brien, LWVUS Project Manager for the Public Advocacy for Voter Protection.

Money in Politics

The current study of Money In Politics builds on the League's current position on campaign finance.

Why Money in Politics Matters to the League of Women Voters

Money in politics matters because the goal of campaigning is to convince voters, either for or against a candidate or issue. Thus, campaigning is ultimately about communication. In our modern age, this includes speech and money. It is very important that one continually keeps combining campaign, communication, free speech, and money in their thinking.

Purpose of a Campaign Finance System

A campaign finance system is intended to control and limit the money spent on election campaigns. Why do that?

1) to protect the right of voters to know who is spending money to influence their vote.

2) to prevent corruption. The only corruption that the current U.S. Supreme Court acknowledges is quid pro quo which refers to an explicit agreement by a candidate or elected official to perform a specific act in exchange for something of value.

3) reformers want to control money out of a belief that unlimited spending gives an unfair advantage to candidates and spenders.

4) there is a concern that the rise in spending corrupts representative government by downplaying the role of the voters and allowing for unfair competition.

Any education and discussion of these issues must attempt to be comprehensive, which means complex. The task of the Money in Politics Committee is to make the issues understandable to the members of LWV and all citizens.

Study Guide for Money in Politics

Money in Politics Powerpoint Presentation

Money in Politics Powerpoint Script

Constitutional Convention Study (U.S.)

For decades, but increasingly in recent years, state lawmakers have been pushing for a convention to add amendments to the U.S. Constitution, only to run into opposition from groups warning that such a meeting could devolve into the wholesale rewriting of the nation's charter.

The LWVUS study is not about any particular amendment; rather it is about establishing guidelines for evaluating amendments. The study asks us to first decide what constitutes an appropriate and well-crafted amendment. The second part of the study considers the possibility of convening a Constitutional Convention to consider the passage of a proposed amendment.

This process has never been successfully used and so it is rife with questions such as how it would work, who would be the delegates, how they would be chosen and what the convention could consider once convened.

Salt Lake Tribune 11/18/15

Background for Conference call with League members

Background Part II

Background Part III

Powerpoint Presentation by Saratoga County LWV

Constitutional Amendment Consensus Questions

Raise the Age

The new position on juvenile justice is as follows:

  • Children under the age of 18 are not adults and their treatment within the juvenile justice and criminal court system should relate to their stage of development.
  • Children should not be held in adult incarceration facilities.
  • Rehabilitation is the purpose of the juvenile justice system.
  • The legal rights of children should be protected.

Raise the Age Power Point Presentation

Redistricting

The US Supreme Court has ruled (June 2015) that states can appoint independent commissions to draw the boundaries of congressional districts, rejecting a challenge in a decision that could have wide-ranging effects on the partisan congressional redistricting practice known as gerrymandering.

The court's decision affirms the constitutionality of an Arizona state ballot measure approved by voters in 2000, which allowed an independent commissioner to determine congressional districts in the state.

State legislatures determine congressional district boundaries after each census, as dictated by the constitution, but the Arizona measure sought to undo this model, which is widely understood as a tool for partisan lawmakers to divvy up districts to favor the political party in power + also known as gerrymandering.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the elections clause of the US constitution does not disallow such commissions from being created.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the majority opinion that the clause "doubly empowers the people" for redistricting purposes.

The Supreme Court's oral arguments for the case focused on what precisely a "legislature" is and its decision could have changed the look of the state house. California has a similar commission; this ruling effectively affirms its validity too.

The Supreme Court's ruling could help limit the practice of gerrymandering.

Women's Equality Agenda

The Women's Equality Coalition (WEC), a statewide coalition of over 850 women's groups, businesses, religious organizations, medical groups, and advocacy organizations, united behind the mission of securing stronger laws for the women and families of New York State, commends the New York State Legislature for advancing a number of crucial measures during the 2015 legislative session to improve the lives of New York women.

Multiple measures of the Women's Equality Act, first proposed in 2013 by Governor Andres Cuomo, were passed and will facilitate much needed updates to New York law. The bills, now awaiting Governor Cuomo's signature, include provisions that will:

  • Strengthen equal pay laws;
  • Ensure workplace protections for pregnant workers and parents;
  • Extend the prohibition on workplace sexual harassment to small workplaces;
  • Improve safety and resources for human trafficking survivors;
  • Ease access to the courts for those who prove sex discrimination; and
  • Add important housing anti-discrimination measures for New York families.

The WEC also recognizes that progress was made to ensure access to health insurance for pregnant women, breastfeeding rights, better handling of sexual assault on college campuses, and a safer workplace for nail salon employees.

However, much remains to be done to address existing inequalities that continue to sharply define and limit women in our state. The WEC looks forward to working with lawmakers in 2016 to address areas which remain in need of action by the New York State Senate, including reforming New York State's antiquated abortion law and legislation to provide family leave insurance because no one should have to choose between their job and their family. NY Women's Equality Coalition

Contact Womens_Issues@lwvuticarome.org

Vote 411

VOTE411.org is a "one-stop-shop" for election-related information, providing nonpartisan information to the public with both general and state-specific information on the following aspects of the election process:

An electronic voters guide with information provided by candidates
Absentee ballot information
Ballot proposition information (where applicable)
Election dates
ID requirements
Military and Overseas Voting
Polling place locations
Registration deadlines
Voter qualifications
Voter registration forms
Voting machines

Currently, candidate information is available for candidates in the races in the primary for NYS Assembly and Senate seats.

Local candidate information can only be gathered by our local league and WE NEED YOUR HELP! Contact Voter_Services@lwvuticarome.org

LWV Clearinghouse

The League of Women Voters Education Fund Clearinghouse contains studies and research conducted by League members. Visitors may download and print the documents. League members may submit documents for this site.

The purpose of this site is to share League study documents among some 800 national, state and local Leagues and with the public.

LWV Clearinghouse