League to County re Flying J Plan: Follow Code; Keep it Transparent
On the 97th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we are STILL Fighting for Equal Voting Rights
By: Chris Carson, President
League of Women Voters of the United States of America
August 18, 2017
On this day in 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, granting American women the right to vote.
Ninety-seven years later, however, we are still fighting for equal access at the ballot box—and an alarming trend threatens to roll back what we’ve achieved across the last century. That’s why the work of the League of Women Voters continues, and that’s why Americans everywhere must remain vigilant in protecting their role in our democracy.
In recent years, we have seen dangerous rollbacks to voting rights at the state and federal levels. In 2013 the Supreme Court discarded key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the case of Shelby v. Holder. This decision opened the door for states to pass more restrictive voting laws, making it more difficult for Americans to vote.
In the four years since the Shelby decision, states have pushed more onerous and restrictive photo ID requirements and purged eligible, registered voters from the polls – actions that would have been prevented under the Voting Rights Act prior to the Supreme Court decision.The 2016 election was the first presidential race in 50 years without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act, and we felt that impact.
In Ohio, 400,000 registered voters across the state were purged from the rolls without notice. In Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin, the period of early voting was cut down to mere days. Across the country, there were more than 800 fewer polling locations to cast a vote in 2016 compared to 2012 and 2014.
Attacks on our voting rights continue to grow.
We’ve seen the Trump Administration make dangerous and unsubstantiated claims that millions of illegal votes were cast in the last election. We’ve seen a commission established for the sole purpose of reducing the number of Americans who are registered to vote. And just last week, the Justice Department escalated the voter suppression agenda by reversing their position on the Ohio voter purge.
Even as we celebrate the anniversary of the 19th Amendment today, and we reflect on the Americans who fought for the right to vote, too many people are losing confidence in our elections. A new poll last week found that more than half of likely American voters say voter fraud is at least a somewhat serious problem in America today.
This is NOT the case.
The real problems with our election system are polling place closures, cuts to early voting, restrictive voter ID laws and the illegal purge of registered voters.
This administration’s so-called “Election Integrity” Commission is laying the groundwork to roll back voting rights even farther. That is exactly why we must be vigilant and fight back.
Do not be intimidated by this Commission’s false accusations about voter fraud. Do not let their agenda threaten your ability to exercise your right to vote.
Voting is what brings us together as Americans.
The vote of the poorest citizen is equal to the vote of the wealthiest citizen. Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and should be a moment at which we are all equal.
The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 – just six months before the 19th Amendment was passed and ratified. Our mission at the time was to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters.
Today, we are still committed to helping voters make informed decisions and fighting to make sure our elections remain as free, fair and transparent as possible.
Today, celebrate the 19th Amendment by registering to vote or helping an eligible voter get registered.
LWV Statement on Trump's "Election Integrity Committee"
05/11/2017 | by Sarah Courtney
Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters president, Chris Carson issued the following statement in response to reports that President Trump will announce an election commission to investigate false claims of widespread voter fraud in American elections:
“President Trump’s 'Election Integrity Commission' is an unnecessary distraction from the real work to protect against foreign hacking and interference in our electoral process. The real purpose of this effort is to justify President Trumps' false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 elections.
“This effort begins with a deep credibility gap. Commission members’ views on elections are well known and have been discredited as political ideologues with dangerous agendas. This is part of a wider effort to suppress the vote, keep certain politicians in power, and undermine our elections by spreading falsehoods.
“Today’s announcement is just another distraction from the real issues and we expect that any findings or recommendations from this Commission will only be used to make it harder for people to vote in the future.
“The White House is attempting to bury this Commission at a time when the nation and Congress are consumed with this administration’s own Russia scandal.
“The real problems with our electoral system are the suppressive laws that prevent eligible voters from access to the ballot. False claims of voter fraud have been used to push through more restrictive voting laws including voter ID, proof of citizenship requirements and limiting or reducing early voting opportunities.
“This administration is laying the groundwork to usher in widespread discrimination in our systems of voting and manipulate our democracy.”
League of Women Voters on Immigration Ban and Deportation
01/31/2017 | by Sarah Courtney
Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters president, Chris Carson, issued the following statement in response to President Trump's immigration ban:
"The League of Women Voters is opposed to deportation of non-criminal undocumented immigrants.
The League supports cities, towns, counties and states that make a decision not to cooperate with federal deportation and enforcement actions that include non-criminal undocumented immigrants. Moreover, the Trump Administration’s orders are of dubious legality.
It is simply wrong, and a perversion of the American system of justice, for the Executive Branch to refuse to obey federal court orders.
The LWV is opposed to discrimination, including discrimination in immigration, based on religion. The Trump Administration’s orders appear to be targeted at Muslims and immigrants from majority-Muslims nations."
LWVNM President gives interview on New Health Care Bill
Public Health New Mexico | KUNM
Friday, June 23, 2017 | By Judith K. Williams
The Senate is considering gutting Medicaid, just like the House did weeks ago. But the Senate’s roposal would allot some money for subsidies for three years. After that, funds would be capped except for folks severely under the poverty level. As things stand, 43 percent of our state is on the program, and we have the highest number of babies born into Medicaid in the country.
Judy Williams said the cuts are drastic, and the changes wouldn’t lower costs or improve the quality of care people get here. She is the president of the League of Women Voters in New Mexico.
“Health care has been the biggest economic engine in the state for several years since Obamacare was passed,” Williams said, “so it will have a huge effect on the state when we can least afford it.”
Williams added that a lot of people would lose coverage altogether, and we could see a spike in overdose deaths if these changes take effect. The bill includes some grant funds for the opioid crisis, which plagues Rio Arriba County. But lawmakers say it’s nowhere near enough.
Planned Parenthood is already closing clinics in the state, and under the Senate’s proposal, they would receive no Medicaid reimbursements for at least a year. Abortion would also not be covered, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother.
KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project is funded by the
W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation.
The "American Healthcare Act" is un-American
League of Women Voters Opposes Ryan Healthcare Repeal Bill
03/10/2017 | by Sarah Courtney
Washington, DC – Chris Carson, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States, issued the following statement on the House Leadership’s proposed “American Health Care Act.”
The “American Health Care Act” was developed in secret and is now being rushed to passage by Speaker Ryan and the House leadership. This legislation will rip apart our health care and revoke coverage for millions of Americans while raising costs for millions more.
The American Health Care Act is un-American. It fails to reflect the American values of fairness, community, and concern for all. The fact that it is being rushed to passage demonstrates the legislation can’t withstand careful consideration and the full debate that is essential in a democracy like ours. It is simply irresponsible to vote on the legislation without knowing the cost to tax payers.
The House Leadership’s bill threatens the essential care that women need. It significantly cuts coverage for women and no longer assures that women cannot be charged for more than men for healthcare. The bill will increase costs for seniors and those with pre-existing conditions, while slashing assistance for lower-income households in obtaining coverage.
It is unacceptable that the legislation not only attacks Medicaid expansion but also sets the Medicaid program on the road to extinction.
The only real winners under this new legislation are the special interests and the wealthiest Americans. Hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks are included in this legislation for the wealthy and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.
The American Health Care Act would mean fewer people covered, weaker protections and higher costs for Americans.
While the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, it has successfully provided health care coverage to tens of millions of Americans who previously went without. The ACA resulted in significant improvements in people's health and their sense of well-being. This proposed replacement -- the American Health Care Act -- is a huge step in the wrong direction and will result in more death and disease for the American people.
Mental Health Awareness Week
Mr. Chair and Commissioners:
My name is Chris Furlanetto; I am speaking on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County.
The League supports the proclamation recognizing Mental Illness Awareness Week in Santa Fe County. Thank you, Commissioners Chavez and Stefanics, for bringing this before the Commission.
The proclamation refers to two items on the November ballot: a bond issue to generate funds for behavioral health services and an advisory question where the public can weigh in on a possible gross receipts tax increase, also for behavioral health services.
The League does not- cannot- endorse nor oppose bond issues without study, but we do expect state and local governments to provide the following:
1) Adequately funded mental health care systems that provide comprehensive services to the acutely, chronically and seriously mentally ill of all ages, including children and the homeless.
[NOTE: This sentence is an abbreviated version of the LWVNM position.]
2) Implementation of a master plan that:
3) Centers for the seriously and chronically mentally ill apart from the County system.
4) Regulations that provide an adequate length of time for evaluation and treatment of involuntary holds.
5) Model mandatory outpatient care programs with adequate supervisory staff.
Should the bond issue pass and/or the advisory question be approved by voters, we ask the BCC to keep these goals in mind in your decisions on allocating the new funds generated for behavioral health services.
Transparency in Government
Letter to the Governing Body re transparency
(copied to the New Mexican and the NM Foundation for Open Government)
Dear Members of the Governing Body:
The League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County believes that the work of the public needs to be accomplished in public. We have followed the recent secretive actions of the governing body with increasing alarm. Not only do the city’s residents not know what our elected representatives voted on with respect to our most precious natural resource, water, we don’t even know what was considered.
The New Mexico Open Meetings Act requires that most of the business of governing be done in the open. There are a few exceptions, but it is difficult to understand how this recent session and vote could be included among them.
In our Transparency Position, the League urges local governments to hold an executive session only when absolutely necessary, include an explanation of the purpose of the session in the public meeting agenda, and keep and release a record of all attendees at such sessions. Further, when important matters of wide public interest have been discussed in executive session, the League believes the public body should publish a draft motion based on what was discussed and allow public input on it before a vote is taken. This position, in its entirety, is incorporated into the city’s Resolution 2011-056, and thus should provide guidance in all of the city’s undertakings.
Nevertheless, the governing body’s recent actions concerning (apparently) water and The Nature Conservancy rise to none of these standards. The League agrees with The Foundation for Open Government and The Santa Fe New Mexican’s editorial, that this does not pass the smell test, and that the action of the governing body needs to be specified, in public, and a new vote taken – the League believes, only after open public discussion.
Suzanne Schmidt, President
League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County
Cc: Santa Fe New Mexican
Susan Boe, NM Foundation for Open Government
Statement to the Santa Fe New Mexican
My View: Yet Another Important Vote
by Mary Ellen Gonzales, League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County Action and Advocacy Committee
On February 7 voters in the Santa Fe Public School District will be asked to approve a General Obligation Bond of $100 million to build, improve, repair, and maintain facilities. Since there is a need for $280 million, the Citizens’ Review Committee, the Board of Education and the staff worked diligently to prioritize these projects. They developed a plan which will begin to bring the Milagro Middle School, Early College Opportunity technical /vocational school, and Mandela International Baccalaureate School up to 21st century standards. There are additional projects left over from the last two bond elections which are not finished. There is money in this bond budget to complete these. Funds will also be spent on sustainability projects that are both environmentally sound and also save the District operational money. Schools will get new roofs, new HVAC systems, new classrooms, upgraded kitchens, etc.
All schools within the District will benefit in some way. Details are available on the SFPS website, http://www.sfps.info If the bond passes, property taxes on a $300,000 house will increase about $80 per year, or $6.67 per month.
The League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County urges all voters to cast their ballots either through early voting or on election day, February 7. Early voting has already begun at the Santa Fe County Clerk’s office, the Santa Fe Community College, the Educational Services Center (610 Alta Vista Street), and Nina Otero Community School at 5901 Herrera Drive.
Mary Ellen Gonzales
Santa Fe, NM 87505