Making Democracy Work

LWV National Positions

National Positions

Clean Power Plan Moving Forward in Many States

Many states are still moving forward with complying with the Clean Power Plan at the state level despite a stay of the regulation by the U.S. Supreme Court. It's important for Leagues to have a voice in the development of the state implementation plans of this important regulation. The Climate Action Toolkit now includes a section (http://participate.lwv.org/c/9217/p/salsa/web/common/public/content?content_item_KEY=10158) outlining what Leagues and League members can do to help build support for, and promote compliance with, the Clean Power Plan. Included are suggestions of state and local organizations that could be good partners for League action efforts as well as ideas for education and advocacy initiatives. The toolkit also includes basic background information about the Clean Power Plan itself.

Excerpted from LWVUS League Update May 12, 2016

Take Action: Fix the Federal Election Commission

Based on our new position on Money in Politics, the League has endorsed legislation by Senator Tom Udall (D- NM) that would create a new independent agency to replace the Federal Election Commission. The Federal Election Administration Act of 2016, would restructure the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as a five-member commission. The League sent a letter to the U.S. Senate in support of this bill and members of the Lobby Corps will be visiting Senate offices throughout May. League members can also contact their members of Congress to address this issue using our latest action alert.

Excerpted from LWVUS League Update May 12, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Reaffirms Total Population as Basis for Redistricting

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed the current practice of drawing district lines based on the total number of people who live in a state legislative district in Evenwel v. Abbott. Opponents had argued that redistricting should be based solely on the number of voters in a district. The League submitted an amicus brief in Evenwel that supported the current practice of drawing district lines based on population counts.

Excerpted from LWVUS League Update April 14, 2016

League Files Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction Against EAC

The League filed a Temporary Restraining order and injunction enjoining the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and Executive Director Brian Newby from enforcing the decision granting state requests to amend the national uniform mail-in voter registration form to require documentary proof of citizenship. This is part of a filed suit in federal district court to stop the recent illegal action by the Executive Director of the EAC that allows these states to restrict voter registration.

Excerpted from LWVUS League Update March 3, 2016

League Lawsuit Against EAC Continues to Get Attention

This week, the New York Times and Washington Post both highlighted the League's pending lawsuit against the Executive Director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Brian Newby, who unilaterally decided to amend the national uniform mail-in voter registration form to require documentary proof of citizenship in three states. If allowed to stand, this illegal action could free other states to erect this new restriction on voter registration.

Excerpted from LWVUS League Update April 14, 2016

LWVUS Announces Money in Politics Position, Support for FEC Reform

The League of Women Voters today announced a new Money in Politics position and its support for legislation to reform the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The positions were based on consensus reached by 336 local and state Leagues and ILOs who participated in the Money in Politics study. In addition to the traditional reason for campaign finance regulation + preventing corruption and undue influence in government + the League now supports several other goals, including enhancing political equality for all citizens, protecting representative democracy from being distorted by big spending in election campaigns, providing voters sufficient information about candidates and campaign issues to make informed choices, ensuring transparency and the public's right to know who is using money to influence elections and enabling candidates to compete equitably for public office.

Excerpted from LWVUS League Update April 14, 2016

League Opposes SENSE Act and BRICK Act in U.S. House

The League joined other partner organizations on a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The SENSE Act (H.R. 3797) and the BRICK Act (H.R. 4557) would weaken health safeguards for Americans on behalf of special interests and result in more air pollution and health hazards.

Excerpted from LWVUS League Update March 3, 2016

Position on Constitutional Conventions under Article V of the U.S. Constitution

The League is concerned that there are many unresolved questions about the powers and processes of an Article V Constitutional Convention. The League believes such a convention should be called only if the following conditions are in place:

a) The Constitutional Convention must be transparent and not conducted in secret. The public has a right to know what is being debated and voted on;

b) Representation at the Constitutional Convention must be based on population rather than one State, one vote, and delegates should be elected rather than appointed. The delegates represent citizens, should be elected by them, and must be distributed by U.S. population;

c) Voting at the Constitutional Convention must be by delegate, not by State. Delegates from one State can have varying views and should be able to express them by individual votes;

d) The Constitutional Convention must be limited to a specific topic. It is important to guard against a "runaway convention" which considers multiple issues or topics that were not initiated by the States;

e) Only State resolutions on a single topic count when determining if a Constitutional Convention should be called. Counting State requests by topic ensures that there is sufficient interest in a particular subject to call a Convention and enhances citizen interest and participation in the process; and

f) The validity of State calls for an Article V Constitutional Convention must be determined by the most recent action of the State. If a State has enacted a rescission of its call, that rescission must be respected by Congress.

Position on Considerations for Evaluating Constitutional Amendment Proposals

The League will only support a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution if it advances and conforms to an LWVUS position. In addition, the League believes the following should be considered in identifying an appropriate and well-crafted Constitutional Amendment:

a) Whether the public policy objective addresses matters of such acute and abiding importance that the fundamental charter of our nation must be changed. Amendments are changes to a document that provides stability to our system and should be undertaken to address extreme problems or long-term needs;

b) Whether the amendment as written would be effective in achieving its policy objective. Amendments that may be unenforceable, miss the objective, or have unintended consequences may not achieve the policy objective;

c) Whether the amendment would either make our political system more democratic or protect individual rights. Most adopted amendments have sought to make our system more representative or to protect the rights of minorities;

d) Whether the public policy objective can be achieved by a legislative or political approach that is less difficult than a Constitutional Amendment. In order to expend resources wisely, it is important to consider whether legislation or political action is more likely to succeed than an amendment; and

e) Whether the public policy objective is more suited to a Constitutional and general approach than to a statutory and detailed approach. It is important to consider whether the goal can best be achieved by an overall value statement, which will be interpreted by the courts, or with specific statutory detail to resolve important issues and reduce ambiguity.

Online Voter Registration Begins in Three More States

Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Iowa all join the growing list of states that allow citizens to register to vote online. LWV of Pennsylvania worked with coalition partners and the Secretary of State's office to push for the online system, which went into effect in late August. Nebraska will have online voter registration on September 22nd, also National Voter Registration Day, and Iowa's systems will be in place in early 2016. For more information on how your state can push for pro-voter reforms such as online voter registration, contact Cynthia Sebian-Lander at CSebianLander@lwv.org .

Excerpted from LWVUS League Update 9/17/15

2014-2016 National Public Policy Positions

SUMMARY OF PUBLIC POLICY POSITIONS League of Women VotersŪ of the United States

REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT: Promote an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive.

Voting Rights
Citizen's Right to Vote. Protect the right of all citizens to vote; encourage all citizens to vote.
DC Self-Government and Full Voting Representation.Secure for the citizens of the District of Columbia the rights of self-government and full voting representation in both houses of Congress.
Election Process
Apportionment. Support apportionment of congressional districts and elected legislative bodies at all levels of government based substantially on population.
Campaign Finance. Improve methods of financing political campaigns in order to ensure the public's right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and promote citizen participation in the political process.
Selection of the President. Promote the election of the President and Vice-President by direct-popular-vote. Support uniform national voting qualifications and procedures for presidential elections. Support efforts to provide voters with sufficient information about candidates.
Citizen Rights
Citizen's Right to Know/Citizen Participation. Protect the citizen's right to know and facilitate citizen participation in government decision-making.
Individual Liberties. Oppose major threats to basic Constitutional rights.
Public Policy on Reproductive Choices. Protect the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices.
Congress and the Presidency
Congress. Support responsive legislative processes characterized by accountability, representativeness, decision making capability and effective performance.
The Presidency. Promote a dynamic balance of power between the executive and legislative branches within the framework set by the Constitution.
Privatization.
Ensure transparency, accountability, positive community impact and preservation of the common good when considering the transfer of governmental services, assets and/or functions to the private sector.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: Promote peace in an interdependent world by working cooperatively with other nations and strengthening international organizations.
United Nations. Support a strong, effective United Nations to promote international peace and security and to address the social, economic and humanitarian needs of all people.
Trade. Support U.S. trade policies that reduce trade barriers, expand international trade and advance the achievement of humanitarian, environmental and social goals.
U.S. Relations with Developing Countries. Promote U.S. policies that meet long-term social and economic needs of developing countries.
Arms Control. Reduce the risk of war through support of arms control measures.
Military Policy and Defense Spending. Work to limit reliance on military force. Examine defense spending in the context of total national needs.

NATURAL RESOURCES: Promote an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest.
Natural Resources. Promote the management of natural resources as interrelated parts of life-supporting ecosystems.
Resource Management. Promote resource conservation, stewardship and long-range planning, with the responsibility for managing natural resources shared by all levels of government.
Environmental Protection and Pollution Control. Preserve the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the ecosystem, with maximum protection of public health and the environment.
Air Quality. Promote measures to reduce pollution from mobile and stationary sources.
Energy. Support environmentally sound policies that reduce energy growth rates, emphasize energy conservation and encourage the use of renewable resources.
Land Use. Promote policies that manage land as a finite resource and that incorporate principles of stewardship.
Water Resources. Support measures to reduce pollution in order to protect surface water, groundwater and drinking water.
Waste Management. Promote policies to reduce the generation and promote the reuse and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes.
Nuclear Issues. Promote the maximum protection of public health and safety and the environment.
Public Participation. Promote public understanding and participation in decision making as essential elements of responsible and responsive management of our natural resources.
Agriculture Policy. Promote adequate supplies of food and fiber at reasonable prices to consumers and support economically viable farms, environmentally sound farm practices and increased reliance on the free market.
Federal Agriculture Policies. Provide financial support to subsidize agriculture in specific instances, enforce federal antitrust laws to ensure competitive agricultural markets and apply clean air and water regulations to all animal and aquaculture production. The federal government should fund basic agricultural research to provide adequate safety of our food supply.

SOCIAL POLICY: Secure equal rights and equal opportunity for all. Promote social and economic justice and the health and safety of all Americans.
Equality of Opportunity
Equal Rights. Support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and efforts to bring laws into compliance with the goals of the ERA.
Education, Employment and Housing. Support equal access to education, employment and housing.
Federal Role in Public Education. Support federal policies that provide an equitable, quality public education for all children pre-K through grade 12.
Fiscal Policy
Tax Policy. Support adequate and flexible funding of federal government programs through an equitable tax system that is progressive overall and that relies primarily on a broad-based income tax.
Federal Deficit. Promote responsible deficit policies.
Funding of Entitlements. Support a federal role in providing mandatory, universal, old-age, survivors, disability and health insurance.
Health Care. Promote a health care system for the United States that provides access to a basic level of quality care for all U.S. residents and controls health care costs.
Immigration. Promote reunification of immediate families; meet the economic, business and employment needs of the United States; be responsive to those facing political persecution or humanitarian crises; and provide for student visas. Ensure fair treatment under the law for all persons. In transition to a reformed system, support provisions for unauthorized immigrants already in the country to earn legal status.
Meeting Basic Human Needs. Support programs and policies to prevent or reduce poverty and to promote self-sufficiency for individuals and families.
Income Assistance. Support income assistance programs, based on need, that provide decent, adequate standards for food, clothing and shelter.
Support Services. Provide essential support services.
Housing Supply. Support policies to provide a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family.
Child Care. Support programs and policies to expand the supply of affordable, quality child care for all who need it.
Early Intervention for Children at Risk. Support policies and programs that promote the well-being, development and safety of all children.
Violence Prevention. Support violence prevention programs in communities.
Gun Control. Protect the health and safety of citizens through limiting the accessibility and regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic weapons. Support regulation of firearms for consumer safety.
Urban Policy. Promote the economic health of cities and improve the quality of urban life.
Death Penalty. The LWVUS supports abolition of the death penalty.
Sentencing Policy. The LWVUS believes alternatives to imprisonment should be explored and utilized, taking into consideration the circumstances and nature of the crime. The LWVUS opposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.
Human Trafficking. Oppose all forms of domestic and international human trafficking of adults and children, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

Whatever the issue, the League believes that efficient and economical government requires competent personnel, the clear assignment of responsibilities, adequate financing, coordination among levels of government, effective enforcement and well defined channels for citizen input and review.