Will There be a "People's Debate"?
In the spring of 2015, a study of Hydraulic Fracturing ["Fracking"] in Virginia was proposed to the attendees at the Convention of the League of Women Voters of Virginia [LWV-VA]. Delegates there approved the study, feeling that insufficient attention had been given to the specific challenges presented by the particular geologic composition of soil in the Commonwealth, and to potential harm to local soils, industries, sensitive cultural sites, and watersheds. A small study committee was formed. The board reaffirmed its position in January of 2016 that the conditions still warranted moving forward with the study, rather than relying on LWV US and LWV-VA positions on water quality as the basis for our advocacy about fracking in Virginia. After months of extensive study, the committee produced a report on what they had found. This report was presented in power point format to members attending the Fall Workshop day in September 2016 and was available online both at the LWV-VA website, and on in a discussion group on Facebook as a resource for local Leagues to use as they began their discussion of the topic.
Consensus questions prepared by the committee were approved by the LWV-VA Board in October 2016. Members who did not have email addresses were also invited to take part in the consensus phase of the study, after being given the links to the source materials available online. Several of these members also chose to take part in the consensus. In the late winter of 2017, responses were received from the local Leagues who had participated in the study and consensus process, and were compiled, along with those responses mailed in. From these responses, the proposed position was crafted from areas of consensus among the reporting Leagues. At the April 4, 2017 meeting of the Education Fund Board of the LWV-VA, the proposed position was approved. This position is currently in effect. If changes are suggested and approved by the delegates to the Convention of the LWV-VA in mid-June, they will be incorporated into the position. Click Here to read the position.
Click Here for the Handbook
The second addition is a presentation of the history of the Virginia League. Elaine Diepenbrock, member of LWV of Fredericksburg Area, prepared this excellent PPT of the history of the League using LWVUS information as her background. The last part of the presentation is the specific to LWVFRA but that could be easily edited by any local League that wants to use it. Many thanks to Elaine for putting this presentation together.
Click Here for the presentation.
Lois Page and Dianne Blais, Co-Presidents of the League of Women Voters of Virginia announced the release of reports on voter activities in Virginia in the 2016 elections and the 2017 General Assembly. According to Page, "We hope this is the beginning of increased data collection so that we can make a better case for the value of our efforts. Thanks to all who responded and made this possible."
"Virginia Results of the LWVUS Voter Service Study for the 2016 General Election" All thirteen of the Leagues in Virginia participated in this effort to varying degrees. Total voters registered to vote reached 2,100 due to the 2,300 volunteer hours put in at 155 events. All the usual methods and materials were utilized in the effort to register and encourage people to vote. Four key areas were examined and the lessons learned included: 1.) Voter registration - Leaguers could consider increasing the outreach to some of the other categories listed in the survey, such as in minority communities. 2.) Leagues might consider turning their voter registration drives into a more full-service voting information opportunity. 3.) Voter Protection and Get Out the Vote. We all need to find different ways to remind people to vote. 4.) Visibility and Recruitment - Leaguers have obviously learned the value of working with other organizations.
Click here to read the full report.
"Working the General Assembly - The League in Action" Representatives from each League, 112 in all, responded to the request for input on their activities in support of the Election Modernization grant. Strategy sessions were held the night before each Women's Legislative Round Table (WLRT) to prepare and update participants on what to expect the following day. The 38 attendees over the five evenings were provided talking points for use with Legislators.
Seventy-two Leaguers reported on their visits to their Legislators (42 in all) after the WLRTs and 32 attended committee meetings the day before or later on Wednesdays. Around one-third of the state's Legislators were visited. Redistricting discussions were the number one topic (discussed 35 times), school discipline was second and voter suppression was third. Most visits were made by a single individual, but in other cases groups of two or more went together on visits.
Click here to read "Working the General Assembly".