ACTION AND ADVOCACY archives
|ACTION & ADVOCACY 2016 AND 2015
ACTION ALERT: December 5, 2016: OPPOSE NEW VOTER ID REQUIREMENTS
State Representatives should be persuaded to oppose HB 6066, 6067 ad 6068 that institute a photo ID requirement for virtually all voters. The new bills require the person who does not present ID when voting to get a provisional ballot and in order for the vote to be counted, the voter must then visit the clerk's office in person within 10 days with a valid ID. The League works to ensure that all eligible voters – particularly those from traditionally underrepresented or underserved communities, including first-time voters, non-college youth, new citizens, minorities and low-income Americans – have the opportunity and the information they need to exercise their right to vote. Studies show that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters do not have a government-issued photo ID. That percentage is even higher for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters and students. (Brennan Center). The League actively opposes voter photo ID laws, advocates against barriers to the voter registration process, and supports improvements and voting technology and modernization of our current system.
ACTION ALERT: November 30, 2016: SUPPORT MICHIGAN'S NEW ENERGY POLICY
On November 30th, League members were urged to contact their State Representative about the future of Michigan’s energy policy. The legislature will soon be discussing Senate Bills 437 and 438 have moved this discussion in the right direction. They would increase our renewable energy standards from 10% to 15 %. There are three improvements that will make sure ratepayers have affordable, reliable and clean energy: 1) Homeowners that invest in solar panels to reduce their electricity bills by generating their own clean, renewable energy should not be penalized with proposed new fees. 2) The energy we don’t use saves us money. Include energy efficiency standards to encourage utility companies to use more renewable energy. 3) Stand behind the 15% renewable energy standard to bolster Michigan’s clean energy sector, creating new jobs. We urge our representatives to support policies tha reduce energy demand and rely on renewal resources.
ACTION ALERT: June 13, 2016: N0 PUBLIC MONEY FOR PRIVATE & PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS
Members were urged to contact Governor Snyder and ask him to line-item VETO the public school money for private and parochial schools. The Michigan Constitution prohibits public money for private and parochial schools. Additionally, the League of Women Voters of Michigan's position is "Public funds should not be used for nonpublic education except for shared time in the public schools, auxiliary services and transportation." The budget bill passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor adds Section 152B which appropriates up to $2.5 million for 2016-2017 that can be used to reimburse costs incurred by nonpublic schools as identified in the Nonpublic School Mandate Report published by the Michigan Department of Education in November 2014.
ACTION ALERT: May 25, 2016: URGE GOVERNOR TO VETO SB 776
SB 776 was passed to make it more difficult to gather the needed signatures for a petition to initiate legislation, amend the constitution, or invoke the right of referendum. The bill removes the ability to challenge the exclusion of petition signatures and establishes a limited 180-day timeframe to get signatures. The current law has not been a problem. Numerous times citizens have met the threshold as now required and the system has not been abused. Therefore, there is no need to change the current law. It should not be made more difficult for citizens to participate in our democratic process. Members were sent the alert to urge the Governor to veto this bill that makes citizen participation in democracy harder.
LWVMI Pesident Judy Karandjeff gave the attached testimony to the Members of the House Judiciary Committee on May 17th concerning the League's support of HJR GG, the bill to add the equal rights amendment to the Michigan Constitution. Discrimination based on gender still continues in our society, and the passage of this bill could help end this discrimination. Over 20 othr states have passed a similar bill. The League supports equal rights for all under state and federal laws.
On May 13th, President Judy Karandjeff sent a letter to Governor Snyder concerning the Flint Water Advisory Task Force. The League urged the Governor to provide updates to the recommendations of the Task Force as they occur, as well as videos of the Task Force meetings. Full disclosure of the plans to address the water crises are essential if trust in government is to be restored. Read the entire letter here.
On April 19th, the League joined environmental groups in a letter to Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Legislature expressing opposition to SB 27, a bill that establishes an environmental rules administrative oversight committee, to be made up of a majority of representatives of industries directly regulated under these environmental laws. It would block the restoration of open, accountable and objective oversight and prevent the DEQ from implementing regulations based on scientific evidence. In the same letter, the group expressed support of Senate Bills 829, 830 and 831, and House Bills 5404, 5405 and 5406 which would reinstate the Air Pollution Control Commission and the Water Resources Commissions within the Michigan DEQ. Read the letter here.
On April 18th, a letter from the LWVMI was sent to Senator Jim Stamas, primary sponsor of SB 501 requesting that he amend the bill to be more fair to foreign visitors driving in Michigan. Of particular concern to the League is the clause in the bill which would require a drive to carry some form of legal documentation to verify his or her legal presence in Michigan. Read the letter here.
In opposition of the Permit request for the St. Clair pipelines by Plains LPG, LP, the League sent a letter on April 1 to Gov. Rick Snyder and MDEQ Director Keith Creagh. It is evident that these pipelines are not crucial. Four of the six existing pipelines have been inactive and not inspected for an undetermined amount of time. The applicant states that the “anticipated use” is for transport of liquified hydrocarbons, but they are requesting a renewed permit similar to the original 1918 Presidential Permit which allowed crude oil. No environmental review or inspection of the 98 year old pipelines is being applied in this permit request. Read the letter here.
ACTION ALERT: April 9, 2016: OPPOSE ST. CLAIR PIPELINE
League members and supporters were urged to tell Governor Snyder to oppose the St. Clair pipleline by Plains LPG Services, LP, and to relay that opposition to the Secretary of State's office. Permits for the operation and maintenance of pipelines at borders of the United States are delegated to the U.S. Secretary of State's Office. Public comments are being taken until April 14 on the permit request for the Plains LPG Services pipelines to operate under the St. Clair River. Two of the pipelines are 98 years old and inactive. Under federal regulations, inactive pipelines are not subject to environmental review or inspection. The anticipated use is for hydrocarbon gases, but the company is asking for renewal of the original permit which permitted crude oil. The St. Clair pipelines are inactive and not necessary, we do not know the condition of these pipelines, and the permit requested is not clear.
In a February 9th letter to Governor Snyder, the League of Women Voters of Michigan stated its oppostion to the request for Great Lakes water withdrawal by Waukesha, WI. The League supports protections of this resource from inefficient and excessive water uses. Read the letter here.
On January 28th, Betsy Cushman, President of the LWV of Dearborn and representing the LWV of Michigan, delivered testimony at a hearing in Detroit concerning the Marathon Petroleum Company's permit request which would increase pollution emissions while producing a lower sulfur gasoline product. The League is very concerned about the negative impact these emissions will have on the communities of Detroit and Dearborn. Read the testimony here.
On January 22nd, LWV President Judy Karandjeff submitted comments to Annette Switzer, from the MDEQ Air Quality Division, concerning the permit application from AK Steele in Dearborn to increase its pollution emissions. The League is strongly opposed to any increase, believing it will further degrade the local air quality as well as the air quality of the communities downwind of the facilities. Read the entire letter here which outlines the case for refusing the permit request.
April 15th update: The MDEQ has notified the League that AK Steele has withdrawn their permit application which would have increased pollution emissions in the area. Read the MDEQ's letter of explanation here.
On Martin Luther King Day, the League of Women Voters joined with other civic-minded groups in a press release calling on legislators to expand citizens' voting rights and reject voter suppression legislation. “Voting is our right and our responsibility. The integrity of our elections depends on every eligible citizen being able to register and cast their ballot. Martin Luther King Jr. knew that and dedicated his life to ensuring that every eligible citizen in America had the right to participate in our democracy. We continue in 2016 in carrying on his quest by urging our representatives to modernize and streamline elections in order to make voting more accessible, convenient, accurate, and fair.” Read the entire press release here.
The League of Women Voters joined local government leaders from across the state on Jnauary 5th to ask Gov. Rick Snyder to veto Senate Bill 571, which would gag local officials seeking to provide constituents with factual information on election matters 60 days before the election. “State law requires local elections on a wide variety of issues, from library millages to land sales, charter amendments to police and fire enhancements. Factual information is vital if we want informed voters,” said LWVMI President, Judy Karandjeff. “If local governments don’t provide this information who will? We see newspapers cutting back coverage, and radio and television stations reducing staff. Voters trust their local officials to give them the facts. Gov. Snyder should too, and should veto this bill.” Read the Press Release here.
ACTION ALERT: December 22, 2015: URGE GOVERNOR TO VETO SB 571
The League urged members and friends of the League to tell the Governor to veto SB 571- the bill that would gag certain people from providing election information and fail to improve campaign finance reporting. Additonally, this bill could limit the ability of the League to use public access television and elected officials to provide information on ballot issues. The League opposes this bill because: 1) it prohibits public bodies from providing factual information on ballot issues 60 days prior to the election. It is already illegal for public officials to advocate on these issues. Local officials would be severely hampered in their efforts to educate voters on local millages, millage renewals or bonds. 2) It prohibits public access communication including television that references a local ballot question. It would seem to put every public access broadcast of a city council or school board meeting at risk for violating this new provision. There is also no allowance for a public broadcast of a debate or voter forum, even if that forum is hosted by a third party, according to the Michigan Municipal League. This could eliminate the League from providing ballot information on public access television. 3) It doesn't address the problem of independent expenditures not being reported until months after the election, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
ACTION ALERT: December 8, 2015: SB 13 WOULD ELIMINATE STRAIGHT PARTY TICKET VOTING
League members and followers were urged to write to their Michigan Representatives urging a NO vote on SB 13, a bill that would end straight party ticket voting in Michigan. The League opposes the elimination of straight¬ party ticket voting because: 1. it minimizes options available to voters who clearly draw lines down partisan lines – this applies to both parties and across the state in urban, rural and suburban precincts, 2. it leads to longer lines at the polls, which disenfranchises voters – according to the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, Michigan ranks 6th in the nation for longest wait in line, 3. it leads to incomplete voting that suppresses the vote – the Citizen’s Research Council reports that, “A single voter is asked in an election cycle to vote on between 54 and 150 officials of state government and the judiciary and from 23 to 37 local government officials” and; 4. it increases the cost for elections because additional machines need to be purchased and more staff. The League of Women Voters supports election laws that make accessible and convenient for all citizens to participate.
ACTION ALERT: December 1, 2015: SB 561 WOULD ELIMINATE THE PURPOSE OF GUN-FREE ZONES
On December 1, 2015, the League urged members and others to urge their Michigan Senator to vote no on SB 561, a bill that destroys the purpose of gun free zones. This bill would prohibit "open carry" in gun-free zones such as schools, churches and hospitals BUT would allow people with concealed pistol licenses to carry a concealed firearm in those facilities. The League of Women Voters of Michigan opposes SB 561 because: a) it does not protect citizens and b) it does not raise the bar of competence.
As a coalition member of the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), The League signed on to a letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Air Quality Division, to express the Council's disapproval of the recent air toxic rule changes. The MEC believes the rules fail to incorporate basic scientific principles in their design and is disappointed in the DEQ's willingness to allow Michigan families to be used as guinea pigs by companies in Michigan wishing to emit toxic chemicals that have had no testing regarding their health impacts. Read the entire letter here.
President Judy Karandjeff sent a letter to Governor Snyder urging him to veto SB 13 and SB 571. SB 13 eliminates straight-party ticket voting. Michigan has an exceptionally long ballot and does not have the equipment or election workers to deal with the increased voting time that would be required. The League is very concerned that this change will result in longer lines and decreased voter participation. SB 571, the bill that was substituted at the last minute with no public hearings, changes voter education and campaign finance reporting. According to the analysis done by the Michigan Municipal League, this bill would block local governments from sending out the most basic factual and objective information about local ballot proposals within the 60 days before an election. It could prohibit public access broadcasts of city council meetings or even non-partisan voter forums by third parties such as the League of Women Voters if a local proposal is referenced. Read the complete letter here.
The League signed on to a letter written by the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on December 4th concerning he aquaculture cage debate in Michigan. The MEC believes that recent scientific evidence clearly demonstrates net-pen commercial aquaculture in the Great Lakes is not worth the risk. The MEC believes that the that there are no precautions that could significantly mitigate our three largest concerns: disease, nutrients and escapement. Read the entire letter here.
On December 2, 2015, The League sent a letter to the Members of the House Elections Committee stating its opposition to SB 13. This bill eliminates the choice of straight-party voting by citizens and undermines the citizen’s right to vote their conscience. The League of Women Voters supports election laws that make voting accessible and convenient for all citizens to participate. A number of reasons why the elimination of straight party ticket voting is bad for voters were cited. Read the letter here.
On December 3, 2015, President Judy Karandeff sent a letter to Governor Snyder urging the Governor and his staff to fully support and cooperate with the state and federal investigation committees regarding the Flint water crisis. The LWV was pleased that an independent investigation committee was appointed and encourages the Governor to ensure that the process is thorough and transparent – with government employee cooperation and transparency. Read the entire letter here.
On December 3, 2015, The League of Women Voters of Michigan implores Governor Snyder to reconsider his “pause” on accepting Syrian refugees in Michigan. The LWV position on immigration encourages us to, “be responsive to those facing political persecution or humanitarian crises” and to “ensure fair treatment under the law for all persons.” Michigan should be addressing the pressing humanitarian concerns of people who just want to survive a civil war which has put their families at dire risk and the terrible circumstances these families face as they flee that conflict. Read the letter here.
The League of Women Voters of Michigan joined the LWVUS and almost all other state Leagues in an October letter to the Enironmental Protection Agency and Science Advisory Board on the Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking WaterResources. As hydraulic fracturing has expanded throughout our country, communities have been forced to make decisions without access to reliable information about the potential risks to health, safety and the environment. The League requests that the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel urge the SAB to restore integrity to the final report by following specific actions. Read the letter here.
On October 7th, President Karandjeff sent a letter to the Majed Ghussaini, Program Manager, Migrant Labor Housing, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development concerning the housing conditions of Michigan's migrant workers. Citing our League position that emphasizes quality of life issues for migrant workers, the League urged the Department to continue to address the needs of both workers and employers to help ensure a thriving agricultural market for Michigan’s economy. Read the letter here.
On September 8th, President Judy Karandeff testified in front of the Michigan Board of Education regarding promoting education excellence in Michigan. Karandjeff discussed a number of issues that the League feels strongly about including financing, assessment and evaluations, educational goals, etc. Read the entire testimony here.
In opposition of SB 438, the League sent a letter on August 26th to the Senate Committee on Energy and Technology. This bill phases out targets for renewable energy and efficiency standards for utility companies, but the League supports an energy plan which would prioritize renewable energy and energy efficiency. Read the letter here.
ACTION ALERT: June 8, 2015: HB 4609 WOULD ELIMINATE MICHIGAN'S EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT
The Michigan House of Representatives is getting ready to end Michigan's Earned Income Tax Credit in order to fund roads. This is an important program for the working program. The Federal Earned Income Tax Credit was signed into law by President Ford in 1975 and, in 1986, President Reagan expanded the program. Michigan established its program in 2006. The League of Women Voters of Michigan opposes HB 4609 because LWV supports policies that promote self-sufficiency for individuals and families. Members and friends of the League are urged to contact their member of the Michigan House of Representatives and ask her/him to oppose passage of HB 4609 and to continue Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit program.
President Karandjeff testified in front of the House Committee on Roads and Economic Developments on June 2nd in opposition of HB 4606, which would eliminate the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor. The League believes that one of the goals of good social policy is to promote self- sufficiency for individuals and families, and the most effective social programs are those designed to prevent or reduce poverty. The EITC has proven to reduce the effects of poverty while encouraging people to continue working to achieve self sufficiency. Read the testimony here.
On May 14th, President Sue Smith sent a letter to the Overisght and Ethics Committee concerning the League's opposition to HB 4540, that protects corporations that own pipelines from disclosing safety and environmental records and other information that the public should have access to. The League believes that citizens have a right to know what is running through the pipelines as well as their inspection records. Read the letter here.
With reference to the Michigan Pipeline Task Force study of Line 5 through the straights of Mackinac, President Sue Smith sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Schuette and Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant expressing concern that the state was depending on information about the pipeline delivered by the pipeline owner. The League notes the dangers of the aging pipeline and asks the state to include public oversight in the review of this critical issue. Read the letter here.
In opposition to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 4), President Sue Smith sent a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 27th. The League strongly supports equal rights and equal opportunity for all and promotes social and economic justice and the health and safety of all Americans. This bill would give permission for discrimination based on religious beliefs. Read the letter here.
In an April 13th letter to Dan Wyant, Director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, President Smith asked that there be opportunities for the public to participate in the review of disposal guidelines for technologically enhanced, naturally occurring radioactive material. The letter in its entirety can be found here.
ACTION ALERT: January 2, 2015: SB 78 WOULD END THE USE OF BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
SB 78, passed by the Michigan House and Senate during the lame duck session, would restrict Michigan's Dept. of natural Resources from classifying or managing the biodiversity of the state land and undermine good management plans. League members were urged to send a message to Governor Snyder urging him to veto SB 78. Biological diversity promotes a healthy environment. Natural resources should be managed as interrelated parts of life-supporting ecosystems. Protective and wise management of our forests to produce bountiful timber, shelter wildlife and create recreational opportunities require a balanced approach. This benefits the environment and all Michiganders lives.
|ACTION & ADVOCACY 2014 and 2013
President Smith sent a letter to the members of the House Judiciary Committee on December 3rd in opposition of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (HB 5958). The League believes this Act would allow a person’s religious beliefs to be used to take away another individual’s right to be treated fairly. Read the letter here.
A letter was sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on December 8th expressing our concern about the decision to impose a high tariff on the residents of the Upper Peninsula to keep the Presque Isle Power Plat operating. The letter can be found here.
ACTION ALERT: December, 2014: 'RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION" LEGISLATION IS A RECIPE FOR DESCRIMINATION
League members and friends of the League have contcted their state senators urging them to oppose passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, HB 5958. The bill as passed by the MI House of Representatives gives permission for discrimination based on religious beliefs. Read the suggested text here.
ACTION ALERT: December 2014: ROAD REPAIR FUNDING PLAN SHOULD NOT RESULT IN CUTS TO SCHOOLS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
League members were urged to contact their Michigan legislators and urge them to construct a funding plan for road repairs that does not result in a reduction in school or local government funding. Read the suggested text here.
On November 24th, President Sue Smith sent a letter to Representative Scott Dianda and to the members of the House Energy and Technology Committee in support of HR 407. This resolution expresses support for the construction of new electricity-generating facilities and the use of alternative energy sources in the Upper Peninsula necessitated by the scheduled closing of the Presque Isle Power Plant. Read the letter here.
President Sue Smith testified in front of the Michigan House Elections and Ethics Committee on November 17h in opposition of HB 4974, which would change the way Michigan votes for President from a ‘winner takes all’ system to a proportional system. This significant change to a method of how a president is elected should be made by the citizens of Michigan, not the legislature. The letter can be found here.
In an August 15th letter to Walter Docket from the US Environmental Protection Agency, President Sue Smith indicated the League’s support of the Army Corps and EPA’s rulemaking recommendations to define the waters of the United States. This action will provide clarity for the regulatory committee and is consistent with the intent of the Clean Water Act. Read the letter here.
ACTION ALERT: August, 2014: TELL GUBENATORIAL AND US SENATE CANDIDATES TO PARTICIPATE IN DEBATES
The League urged the public to contact the candidates for Governor and urge them to participate in the LWV's meeting to negotiate a debate. The League of Women Voters of Michigan has offered to host Gubernatorial debate schedule negotiations and invited Governor Snyder and Congressman Mark Schauer to a meeting at the League office for the purpose of negotiating a debate schedule for the two campaigns. The Schauer campaign has accepted. The Snyder campaign hasn't replied to the League's offer as of September 8, 2014.
Additionally, candidates for the US Senate should be urged to participate in a debate on October 9th to which both were invited. The League of Women Voters of Michigan and of the Grand Traverse Area invited Gary Peters and Terri Lynn Land to participate in a televised debate on October 9 in Traverse City. It would be available to voters across the state of Michigan. The Peters campaign has accepted. The Land campaign hasn't committed as of September 8, 2014.
Voters will see a lot of political ads from all sides between now and Election Day Debates will help voters cut through the rhetoric and get to hear from the candidates in their own words and more fully understand where the candidates stand on important issues.
ACTION ALERT: August, 2014: LET THE VOTERS DECIDE ABOUT WOLF HUNTS
Using the LWVUS position on Representative Government, LWVMI urged all its members and friends of the League to immediately contact their state Senators and Representatives to urge them to take no action on the petition submitted by the Citizens for Wildlife Management. While the League of Women Voters does not have a position on the wolf petition--we are concerned that the Legislature is taking away the opportunity for voters to vote on this issue of allowing wolves to be hunted. The petition will undermine a referendum of Public Act 21 of 2013, that allows the Natural Resources Commission to name what animals can be hunted.
ACTION ALERT: July, 2014: LWVMI SUPPORTS PROPOSAL 14-1
LWVMI supports passage of "State Proposal 14-1, Approval or Disapproval of Amendatory Act to reduce State Use Tax and replace with a local community stabilization share to modernize the tax system to help small businesses grow and create jobs." LWVMI bases its support on the importance of reimbursing local units of government. If the Personal Property Tax (PPT) on businesses is eliminated, funding to local governments will be reduced. This ballot proposal is an attempt to insure that local governments are at least partially reimbursed for that loss. Read the complete Action Alert here.
Testimony in front of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was given by President Sue smith on July 16th concerning the proposed rules for fracking operations. The League supports full disclosure of all chemicals to be used in fracking operations prior to drilling, rights of property owners concerning potential contamination from fracking fluids, and resource management assessments. Read the testimony here.
President Sue Smith testified in front of the MDEQ Air Quality Division on March 19th expressing the League’s concern about the cumulative effects of multiple permits in the Dearborn area for operations that produce pollutants. The League also calls on the DEQ to enforce state rules concerning pollution control standards in a timely manner. The testimony can be viewed here.
ACTION ALERT: February, 2014: PROPOSED IRS REGULATIONS TO STOP 'DARK MONEY' ALSO JEOPARDIZE LWV'S VOTER SERVICE ACTIVITIES
League members in Michigan and all over the country were urged to submit comments to the IRS about new, proposed regulations to stop "dark money” polluting our elections. We have seen too much abuse by fly-by-night 501(c)(4) organizations and it is harming our democracy. We need real transparency and tough rules to stop “candidate-related political activity” by these organizations. At the same time, the current IRS proposal must be changed to make sure that truly nonpartisan voter service activities by the League of Women Voters can continue. The existing standards currently applied to 501(c)(3) organizations governing nonpartisan election activities should also be applied to (c)(4) organizations.
A Letter to the Editor of the Lansing State Journal was sent on January 17th which applauded the LSJ’s editorial supporting “no-reason absentee voting.” Michigan’s current system of allowing voters to vote absentee if they meet onerous criteria is not needed in order to protect the integrity of the voting process. See the letter here.
ACTION ALERT: December, 2013: DARK MONEY IN CAMPAIGN FINANCING
In December, LWVMI urged voters to contact Governor Snyder to demand a veto of SB 661, passage of which would enable "dark" money to dominate Michigan's political campaigns for the forseeable future. The bill would quash the possibility of disclosure of most campaign ads by stipulating that such disclosure of campaign expenditures is mandatory only when there are magic words of express advocacy -- an explicit exhortation to vote for or against a particular candidate. This bill was passed by the legislature despite Secretary of State Ruth Johnson's proposed rule change that would require public disclosure of most third-party campaign spending.
November - December, 2013
The League of Women Voters opposes SB 661, a bill that would prohibit the Secretary of Sate from issuing rules to require the disclosure of donors for "issue" campaigns. This bill prohibits the public from knowing what individuals, organizations or other entities are paying for the issue ads. On November 25th, President Smith sent a letter to the House Members of the Elections and Ethics Committee. Despite our advocacy and that of others concerned about the SB 661's disregard for the public's right to know who is financing issue ads, the bill passed in early December. Immediately, the League contact the Governor's office, urging him to veto SB 661. Read President Smith's letter here.
Also in December, LWVMI submitted a statement to the US Environmental Protection Agency who was seeking public comment on the proposed changes to Michigan's wetland permitting program(Public Act 98). The League opposes the proposed changes which would redefine wetlands, add exemptions, authorize conditional permits before a hearing process, and shift additional burden on the Department of Environmental Quality. Read the letter here that details the reasons for the League's opposition.
An Op-Ed statement from the LWVMI was submitted to the Detroit Free Press on December 6, 2013. The statement deals with the League's disappointment in Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette'slawsuit against the EPA to block the limits on carbon emissions going into effect. The League applauds the EPA's efforts to protect future generations from dangerous pollution and believes that the state attorney general's actions show a disregard for the best interests of our citizens. Read the Op-Ed Statement here.
LWVMI urged Majority Leader Randy Richardville to support the adoption of HB 4714, the bill to expand Medicaid and make more people eligible for participation in the program. The expansion will save the state over $200 million in GF/FP savings in FY 2013-14 and will provide Medicaid coverage to at least 325,000 people in FY 2013-14. Read President Smith's letter here urging Sen. Richardville to take action on this bill.
President Sue Smith testified at a hearing of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in Kalamzoo, speaking in opposition to the proposed road across the Singapore Dunes which would result in the destruction of wetlands and dunes, and would have a negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem. Read the testimony here.
Representative Andrea LaFontaine, Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee was sent a letter by President Sue Smith expressing the League's opposition to SB 163. The League believes that destruction of wetlands degrades the Great Lakes Ecosystem. SB 163 would create exemptions for development and the creation of wetland mitigation banks. Mitigation should be accepted only as a last resort. Read the entire letter here.
ACTION ALERT: June - December, 2013: "DECLINE TO SIGN", THEN "LET THE VOTERS DECIDE"
In June, The League urged Michigan residents to "Decline to Sign" the petitions being circulated by the Right to Life organization that would force health care insurers to offer coverage for abortions only as a separately purchased rider. If enough petition signatures are validated (only 3% of Michigan voters are required), the legislature can enact this legislation as law without requiring the Governor's signature. Governor Snyder vetoed similar legislation last year.
In early December, the required number of were certified by the State Board of Canvassers. The initiated legislation was sent to the Michigan House and Senate for a single floor vote with only a simple majority needed to enact it into law. The League urged voters to contact their state legislators asking them to take no action on the petitions, but rather, to allow the issue to be on the November, 2014 ballot. This "Let the Voters Decide" action would allow ALL Michigan voters to participate in this important decision about women's health.
Equal Pay Day (April 9, 2013) was originated in Michigan by the Pay Equity Network and adopted by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages. Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into 2013 women must work to earn what men earned in 2012. Tuesday is the day of the week on which women's wages catch up to men's wages from the previous week. It is a national day of recognition that demonstrates there is still a pay gap between women's and men's wages. People wear red on Equal Pay Day to symbolize that women and minorities are "in the red" with regard to their pay. Members of the League of Women Voters joined other organizations in Lansing to call attention to Equal Pay Day. Click here to read one of many news articles about the rally at the capital and the legislation that was introduced on April 9th. NOTE: The US Department of Labor, Women's Division, has two publications available regarding equal pay (click on appropriate link): A Guide to Women's Equaly Pay Rights and An Employer's Guide to Equal Pay
ACTION ALERT: April, 2013: SUBSTANCE ABUSE SCREENING, HEALTH CARE DENIAL, MEDICAID COVERAGE, PREVENTION FROM USING REFERENDUM PROCESS
On April 23, LWVMI sent out action alerts on several bills that may be voted on that week:
In the Michigan House, possible votes on:
- HB 4118 - that would allow the Department of Human Services to establish a program for suspicion-based substance abuse screening and testing for family independence program applicants and recipients, and it could result in suspension from the family independence assistance program benefits. LWVMI opposes.
- Expand Medicaid coverage to implement the Affordable Care Act. As part of implementing the Affordable Care Act, the Michigan Legislature needs to take action. The state has an opportunity to accept federal funds for three years to expand Medicaid which would cover almost 600,000 Michigan citizens with health insurance. According to the Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, this could save Michigan over $1 billion dollars over the next 10 years. LWVMI supports.
In the Michigan Senate, possible votes on:
- SB 136 would create the "Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act." It allows medical providers, insurers, and facilities to deny access to care if it violates the entity's conscience, including ethical or moral principles. The bill would severely affect those living in some areas of the state with limited providers. The bill would make the beliefs of the provider, facility, purchaser or payer more important than the care of the patient. LWVMI opposes.
- SB 288 would allow the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to designate game species in Michigan and would prevent voters from using the referendum process to have a voice in whether or not wolves should be on the game list. LWVMI opposes.
ACTION ALERT: Aprtil 16, 2013 MEDICAID EXPANSION
On April 16th, League members were urged to write their Michigan legislators encouraging them to support the use of federal funds to cover low-income Michiganians through an expansion of Medicaid that would enable almost 600,000 Michigan citizens to have needed health care. The failure to expand Medicaid in Michigan would not only cost our state the chance to dramatically reduce the number of uninsured residents, it would also cost our state money. The Senate Fiscal Agency has carefully analyzed the data and determined that the state's expansion of Medicaid could help Michigan save at least $200 million dollars until 2017, and a savings of more than $1.5 billion over a decade.
President Sue Smith sent a letter to Representative Kenneth Kurtz, House Families, Children and Seniors Committee, regarding the League's opposition to HB 4118, the legislation that requires drug testing, based on suspicion, of public assistance recipients. The drug test process, which is expensive and billed to the assistance recipient even if the result is negative, is humiliating and disrespectful.
The League supports promoting an environment beneficial to Michiganders through the protection and wise management of natural resources, including the preservation of the biological integrity of the ecosystem. President Sue Smith sent a letter to Senator Thomas Casperson, Chair of the
Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes, stating our oppostion to SB 78 which, among other things, would prohibit the DNR and Natural Resources Commission from promulgating or enforcing a rule or an order that designates or classifies an area of land specifically for the purpose of achieving or maintaining biological diversity, and provide that no other state agency would be required to do so either. The Department of Natural Resources should not be restricted from classifying or managing the biodiversity of State land. The League of Women Voters supports a diverse, healthy ecosystem. The proposed changes to PART 355, Biological Diversity Conservation and PART 525, Sustainable Forestry on State Forestlands would undermine good management plans currently existing.
ACTION ALERT: January, 2013: OPPOSE SB 63
On January 29th, members were asked to contact their state Senators to express their opposition to SB 63, the bill to establish the Michigan Firearms Freedom Act. This legislation will exempt a personal firearm that has been manufactured and remained in Michigan from federal law or federal regulation. Since 1990, the League of Women Voters has advocated for the protection of citizens' health and safety through limiting the accessibility and regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic weapons. We supported the original federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines when it was passed in 1994. We also support requiring all dealers to run criminal background checks at gun shows. I agree with that position. Michigan will fail to protect its citizens if it exempts firearms manufactured in the state from federal gun regulations and laws.
ACTION ALERT: January 22, 2013 PROTECT WOMEN'S HEALTH
January 22, 2013 was the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision, Roe v Wade. League members were asked to sign a petition that highlighted the significance of the Court's ruling and the importance of protecting women's health. The Court ruled that a right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution included a woman's decision to have an abortion. In 1982, LWVUS adopted the following position: "The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that public policy in a pluralistic society must affirm the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices." In cooperation with other groups who believe in reproductive justice, the petition will be forwarded to Governor Snyder.
|action & advocacy 2012
November and December, 2012
LWVMI advocated for or
against a number of bills during the 2012 lame duck legislative session. President Sue Smith
attended hearings and provided testimony against bills establishing
the Educational Achievement Authority (SB 1358, HB 6004). President
Smith attended hearings and provided testimony in support of bills
establishing the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority (SB
LWVMI sent letters
On December 11, President Sue Smith sent a letter to
Governor Snyder urging him to veto bills SB 1293-1294, to change the
statutes for Blue Cross Blue Shield because of the inappropriate language added
to limit access to health insurance coverage for abortions. The amendments adopted to require riders for abortion
coverage were adopted without any discussion at the committee hearings or
opportunities for public review. These amendments will harm the health and
well-being of Michigan women and their families. There is no reason for a safe
legal medical procedure to be treated in this manner. No other medical service
is treated like this.
On December 3rd, President Sue Smith sent a letter to the House Tax Policy
Committee indicating the League's opposition to any changes in the Personal Property Tax law unless there is full replacement of the funds
that would be lost if the tax was eliminated. The current proposal outlined by
Lt. Gov. Calley would replace only 80% of the lost funds to municipalities and
school districts. Read the letter here.
ACTION ALERT: December, 2012: OPPOSE SB
59, HB 5711 and SB 1293
Friends of the
League and members were asked to immediately contact Governor Snyder on December
28th asking him to oppose HB 5711 which, though different from
the first version of the bill introduced in August, still imposes barriers to a
woman's right to make decisions about her own reproductive health. The League
fears that SB 1293 and 1294 are even more damaging to womens'
access to health care in Michigan since the bills would ban insurance coverage
for all abortions except to save the life of the mother. An employer would have
to purchase an "abortion rider" and serve notice to all employees of the rider.
ACTION ALERT: On December 17, 2012, League members
were encouraged to contact Governor Snyder and urge him to veto SB
59, , the bill to expand where concealed weapons can be carried in
Michigan. This legislation would allow guns to be carried is such places as
churches, day care facilities and public schools. (Follow up: On December
18th, Gov. Snyder vetoed this bill).
The League of Women Voters of Michigan has taken positions on 3 of the statewide ballot proposals.Read about the positions here.
State Rep. Steven Lindberg was sent a letter on September 24th offering the
League's assistance and support of HB 5804 that provides for the establishment
of the Michgian Indigent Defense Commission. The League of Women Voters
supports state funding of all costs of an indigent person's defense. Read the
ACTION ALERT: September, 2012: SUPPORT OF ESTABLISHMENT OF INDIGENT
On September 13, President Sue Smith sent a letter to Rep.
John Walsh, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee in support of HB 5804, a bill
that provides for the establishment of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. The League of Women Voters of Michigan has been a
member of the Michigan Campaign for Justice and appreciates the work many
organizations and individuals have done to raise awareness about this important
issue. The coalition has been meeting for many years to address this critical
problem. The League of Women Voters supports state funding of all of the
costs of an indigent person’s defense.
On August 8th, a letter
was sent to all Michigan Senators urging them to Oppose HB5711 which restricts
Michigan women from receiving reproductive health care. "This bill will not
protect the health or well-being of Michigan’s women; instead, it would create
unnecessary barriers to women being able to obtain a safe and legal medical
procedure. Since 1983, the League of Women Voters has believed that public
policy in a pluralistic society must affirm the constitutional right to privacy
of the individual to make reproductive choices. The new requirements included in
HB 5711 would limit access to safe legal abortions in Michigan." Read the
complete letter here.
ACTION ALERT: August, 2012: OPPOSE HB 5711 LIMITING ACCESS TO
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE
League members were urged to communicate
with their state Senators urging them to vote NO on HB 5711, a bill that would
limit Michigan women's access to reproductive health care. This bill will not
protect the health or well-being of Michigan's women; instead, it would create
unnecessary barriers to women being able to obtain a safe and legal medical
procedure. This legislation will adversely impact access to obstetricians and
gynecologist in Michigan by adding more regulations for doing business in
Michigan. It is important that women continue to have access to comprehensive
medical services. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
testified that Michigan already has a shortage of physicians. The bill also
requires women who have accidental miscarriages to involve a medical director
and a funeral director as well as to publish death notices in the newspaper.
This is an unnecessary intrusion of privacy at a very difficult time in a
woman's life. Further restrictions to safe and legal medical procedures are not
needed. Instead we need legislators to focus on programs that reduce unintended
pregnancy, such as family planning and sex education.
The Michigan State House introduced several anti-choice bills (HB 5711-13),
which the League believes are an overreaching attack on women's reproductive
health. The League has joined other women’s groups to protest against this
legislation which has been described as the most restrictive, anti-choice
legislation in the country. After HB 5711 passed the house on June 13, 2012,
LWVMI sent the a letter to the Chair and Members of the Senate Judiciary
letter here) on July 9, 2012. On July 26, 2012, the Senate Judiciary
Committee held a hearing on HB 5711. Though the room was packed with
protestors, no public comment was accepted. LWVMI Pres. Sue Smith and LWVMI
VP Judy Karandjeff attended the hearing and indicated in writing that the League
opposed the bill.
Having passed the legislature, Senate bills 751, 754 and 803 are now on
Governor Snyder's desk. President Sue Smith urged Governor Snyder to veto the
bills in a letter dated June
15. "The right to vote, along with full and fair representation, is the most
basic of political rights. Measures that restrict the exercise of that right
should be carefully evaluated for their benefit to election integrity. These
bills fail that test."
LWVMI President Sue Smith and Dianne Kasdan, Counsel for the Brennan Center
for Justice, co-authored an op-ed article regarding the Michigan's voter
suppressions bills that appeared in the Detroit News on June 8, 2012. "The bills — S.B. 751, S.B. 754 and S.B. 803 — are part of
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s “Secure and Fair Elections” plan. But they
don’t make elections any safer, and they are unfair to voters and
community-based groups that help them register. By enacting these laws, Michigan
would join a dubious list of states moving backward on voting rights and running
afoul of core federal and constitutional protections." Read the entire article here.
ACTION ALERT: June, 2012: OPPOSE VOTER SUPPRESSION
An alert to members on June 18: Members were
urged to contact Governor Snyder asking that he veto the
legislation that moves Michigan backwards. Bills that create barriers to voting
passed the Michigan Legislature on June 15 and await the Governor's action. The
measures – SB 751, SB 754, SB 803, and HB 5061 – expand photo identification
requirements for voters, impose certification and Secretary of State (SOS)
approved training on third-party voter registration agencies, and require
affirmation of citizenship on ballot applications.
An alert to members on June 4: Bills that will create
hurdles to voting are scheduled for a vote in the Michigan Legislature the week
of June 11th. The House is expected to act on SB 751, SB 754, SB 803 and the
Senate on HB 5061. These bills regulate groups that register voters, impose
stricter photo ID requirements for voters, and add a citizenship check-off box
to ballot applications.
Tell your Representative and
- These bills
don't make elections any safer but will reduce opportunities to register and
create barriers to voting.
- They are
unfair to voters and the community-based groups that help them
- Voting is a
fundamental right and the Legislature should protect and encourage voting, not
make it more difficult.
Under SB 754, new training,
certification, and paperwork requirements will make it more difficult for groups
such as the League to conduct registration drives, resulting in fewer
opportunities for citizens to register at locations such as schools, community
centers, and churches. According to national data, Hispanic and African
American voters are twice as likely as white voters to register through voter
registration drives and, therefore, more likely to be adversely
The legislation also requires photo
ID for in-person voter registration (SB 754) and absentee voting (SB 751 and HB
5061). Some people do not have this type of ID and may be discouraged from
voting. Elderly, minority, low-income and young adult voters are more likely
than others to lack photo ID. Michigan currently follows federal law for
verifying new registrants’ identity and the voter’s signature is compared to the
signature on file to confirm identity for absentee voting. These methods work
very well and there is no evidence of voter impersonation in our elections.
The League continues to speak out against the voter suppression bills making
their way through the state legislature. On April 17, President Sue Smith
testified in front of the Michigan House Elections and Redistricting Committee
in oppostion of SB 751, SB 754 and SB 803. Click here to read the testimony. On
April 18, President Smith appeared on the The Big Picture with Thom
Hartman, a nationally syndicated tv and radio show that includes news,
opinion and debate about topical issues. See the interview here.
A Letter to the Editor authored by LWVMI President Sue Smith and AARP
Michigan President Robert Kolt appeared in the Detroit News on March 27, 2012.
The letter was in response to a March 12th Detroit News editorial that supported
the voting reform laws that are working their way through the
legislature. Challenging the myth of voter fraud and the need for strict
regulations on voter registration groups, the letter can be found here.
On March, 1st, Pres. Sue Smith expressed the League's oppostion to
passage of SB 528-533 in a letter to Rep. Frank Foster, Chair of the
House Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee. These bills
would modify the liability and cleanup procedures for underground fuel tanks
used to store petroleum and hazardous wastes. These bills limit the responsible
party’s liability and shift some costs to the people of Michigan. Read more
about the League's concerns here.
The League of Women Voters of Michigan opposes passage of SB 904 and
HB 5223, legislation which require drug testing for public assistance
recipients, based solely on suspicion. The bills were recently introduced by
Senator Joseph Hune and Representative Jeff Farrington and assigned to the
respective Families, Seniors and Human Services Committees. Letters were sent to
the chairs of both Committees urging opposition. The League of Women Voters
supports administrative procedures that are conducted with respect for the
rights and dignity of the individual. More.
The League of Women Voters of Michigan opposes passage of SB
248, a land cap bill. Placing an arbitrary limit on the amount of land
which the people of Michigan can own and manage removes opportunities to respond
to social, environmental and economic factors. President Sue Smith sent a letter
to Rep. Frank Foster, Chair of the House Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor
Recreation Committee. Read Pres. Smith's letter here.
On January 24th, President
Sue Smith testified before the Michigan House Redistricting and Elections
Committee in support of HB 5058, which clarifies when campaign
expenditures cannot be used for certain legal expenses, yet allows them to be
used when appropriate, such as for a recall campaign, and in support of
HB 5062, particularly the proposed post-election audit program. Random
audits are an effective way to identify possible errors and other problems in an
election, which promote election integrity. The bill also provides for
continuing education for county clerks, supported by the League. In her testimony, Smith
also expressed the League's opposition to HB 5061 because of
our concerns about photo ID requirements. Photo ID requirements put up barriers
to citizens who want to vote but don’t have the necessary identification. While
it is true that in Michigan, citizens may sign an affidavit in lieu of providing
photo ID, this fact is not publicized by the Secretary of State nor other
election officials. Many qualified voters who do not have photo IDs may stay
home, not knowing that signing an affidavit is an option.
Also on January 24th, President Sue Smith testifed before the Michigan Senate
Judiciary Committee in support of HB 4074 that would require
the Department of Correction to provide a prisoner with a prisoner
identification card. Said Smith, "The League supports the prison system
providing assistance to incarcerated individuals in transitioning to the free
world. Helping prisoners to return to society by giving them a picture ID is
important in their finding a job and also in exercising their right to vote.
Providing a prisoner ID card would greatly enhance the ability of the prisoner
to exercise his or her rights as a citizen. We appreciate the work of the
Department of Corrections, the Secretary of State and the Legislature to make
this legislation possible."
Responding to an invitation by the EPA to submit comments on its
recent Proposed Rules on 2017 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse
Gas Emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards, President
Sue Smith submitted a statement indicating that the League of Women Voters of
Michigan supports the new standards because they will substantially reduce
pollution caused by vehicle emissions and will also spur innovation and
investment in new technologies. Read her complete comments here.
|action & advocacy 2011
Affirming its support of the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act and equality for all persons in Michigan, the League sent a letter to Representative John Walsh, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee regarding the League's opposition to HB 5039, which would override the ability of local government and voters to make their own decisions about nondiscrimination ordinances. Read the letter here.
Representative Gail Haines, Chair of the House Health Policy Committee was urged to continue holding hearings on SB 693, legislation that would create health care exchanges, which would allow for a more systematic approach for purchasing health insurance by offering a choice of plans, establishing common rules regarding the offering and pricing of insurance and providing needed information to consumers to better understand the options available to them. See President Sue Smith's letter to Rep. Haines urging support of this bill here.
Urging that he veto HB 4326, LWVMI's letter to Governor Rick Snyder outlined the League's concern for this law that would prohibit a State agency from promulgating or adopting a rule more stringent that the applicable Federal standard. Perhaps no single resource in this nation demonstrates the need for initiatives extending beyond federal minimums than the Great Lakes with twenty percent of the world’s fresh water.
October and November, 2011
LWVMI sent a letter to David Robertson, Chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government and Elections in support of SB 49 which would allow no-reason absentee voting. LWVMI also supports HB 4520 and HB 4698. On November 9, 2011, President Sue Smith testified in front of the Michigan Senate's Local Government and Elections Committee expressing our opposition to SB 751 which would require a photo ID to vote. Read her testimony.
Additionally, President Smith participated in several Detroit area 'talk radio' programs regarding the League's opposition to requiring voters to produce photo ID.
LWVMI also took action on other election law bills this fall. Because the bill would make voter registration requirements more stringent than they are now, LWVMI opposes SB 754 (Jansen, Green, Robertson) which would amend MI Election Law to require registrar training and certification in order to do voter registration; show photo ID for "in person" registration at clerk’s offices and SOS branches. LWVMI supports HB 5062 (Fortini, Kurtz) which would amend MI Election Law to require continuing education for clerks every two years, extend time for which poll books are kept, clarify ballot container integrity process to preserve ballots, and other audits for ballot counting. President Sue Smith testified before the Michigan Senate's Local Government and Elections Committee on November 2, 2011 regarding the Leagues's support of strong campaign finance disclosure requirements, convenient voting and voting without the requirement of a photo ID. See her testimony here.
LWVMI opposes the Emergency Manager Law (PA 4 of 2011), based on the LWVUS position on Representative Government: Promote an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive.
September 29, 2011
U.S. Congressman Hansen Clarke joined Environment Michigan, the League of Women Voters of Michigan, and Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision to release a new report showing that the Detroit area ranks as the 23rd smoggiest large metropolitan area in the country. At the event, Congressman Clarke took the "Clean Air Promise", agreeing to keep the promise of the Clean Air Act passed in 1970 and resist attempts to weaken the Act. Read President Smith's comments here.
On August 30th, LWVM sent a letter to Mike Kowall, Chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development expressing support of Senate bills 340-343 which would require equal compensation for comparable work, establish a pay equity commission and provide for other measures concerning pay-equity.
On August 12, President Sue Smith sent a letter to Governor Rick Snyder and a letter to Representative Fred Upton, asking them to make the Clean Air Promise:
The Clean Air Promise
- I promise to protect America’s children and families from dangerous air pollution.
- Because toxics and pollutants such as mercury, smog, carbon ,and soot cause thousands of hospital visits, asthma attacks, and even deaths,
- I will support clean air policies and other protections that scientists and public health experts have recommended to the EPA to safeguard our air quality.
July 5, 2011
The League added their support to a letter sent to Governor Snyder expressing disappointment at the redistricting process and asking him to veto the current redistricting plans because of the lack of citizen input.
May and June, 2011
President Sue Smith testified in fron of the House and Senate Redistricting Committees a total of five times in May and Junhe, 2011. Smith represented the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative, of which the League of Women Voters of Michigan is a member. Click here to view testimony given on June 21st.
May 18, 2011
President-elect Susan Smith testified before the House Redistricting and Elections Committee. Her testimony: "On behalf the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative, thank you for the opportunity to testify today regarding the need for a transparent and open redistricting process. My name is Sue Smith and I am the President-Elect of the League of Women Voters of Michigan and a member of the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative.
"As you may already know, the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative is a coalition of non-profits from all segments of the community, including business, labor and public interest, believes that redistricting must be more transparent and open, with more involvement from the public. More than 35 organizations are members of the Collaborative, working together because we all believe that voters should choose their elected officials, not the other way around.
"Unfortunately, Michigan, unlike other states, does not have a history of providing opportunities for public input on redistricting plans. Iowa, for example, has finished its congressional and legislative redistricting exercise, following public meetings and input – and the plan adopted had widespread support from Republicans and Democrats.
"In Illinois, the state Senate is holding two public hearings after maps are drawn, and before they are approved – different than the usual process where the public is an afterthought.
Here in Michigan, however, we haven’t seen any maps. Our concern is that this redistricting process will be similar to the one in 2001 when redistricting legislation was adopted by a legislative conference committee, with no members of the public being afforded a chance to even look at the maps, let alone offer any significant input, and then approved on straight party line votes and sent to Gov. John Engler for prompt signature. The secretive actions only added to public skepticism about the political process – and rightly so. Thank you again for the opportunity to speak today."
April 20, 2011
President Jessica Reiser participated in a "Talking About Toxics" teletown hall meeting with health professionals, mothers and members of the Sierra Club. The focus of the discussion was about how children, families and seniors benefit from clean air standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency. Polluters in Michigan and across the country are pumping millions of tons of industrial toxics like arsenic, mercury, and dioxin into the atmosphere. Air pollution that causes heart attacks, asthma attacks cancer and other illnesses each year. But scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency want to protect us by adjusting our clean air standards and closing the polluter loophole. The EPA recently issued regulations that will protect our public health by limiting the emissions of life-threatening toxic pollutants like mercury, arsenic and acid gases, dioxin and lead from power plants. This long overdue and critically important action will save 17,000 American lives and prevent 120,000 pediatric asthma attacks each year.
April 12, 2011
LWVMI joined with other members of the Michigan Equal Pay Day Coalition to recognize Equal Pay Day, a national day of recognition that demonstrates there is still a pay gap between women’s and men’s wages. Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into 2011 women must work to earn what men earned in 2010. The League participated in an Equal Pay Day event in Lansing where bills to strengthen Michigan’s laws about pay equity were introduced, including a new bill amending Michigan’s Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits Act. The new bill, the Wage Transparency Act, aims to help the market work more efficiently by providing access to wage information for those in similar jobs. A major barrier to bringing an equal pay claim is lack of knowledge of other employees’ pay. The Equal Pay Day coalition partners support legislation that brings women closer to receiving equal pay for equal work.
February 14, 2011
LWVMI sent a letter to Senator Carl Levin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, and all of our congressional representatives urging them to provide $300 million in necessary funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The message reminded the legislators that the longer we wait to solve the problems of the Great Lakes, the more difficult and expensive they become. Read letter
January 26, 2011
LWVMI President Jessica Reiser's Letter to the Editor regarding the newly created Michigan Judicial Selection Task Force was published in the Detroit News. Said Reiser, "We are troubled by the growing influence of special interests in elections that are supposed to result in fair and impartial courts. We want to lift the veil that conceals the big spenders. Reform is not a matter of choosing whether judges are elected or appointed, but of improving both the election and appointment processes. It is not a critique of individual judges, judicial philosophies, or voters' choices, but of a system that leaves too much room for political tinkering."
|action & Advocacy 2010
In November, 2010, LWVMI President Jessica Reiser's letter to the editor was published in the Detroit free Press concerning the secret dollars spent on political advertising. "The League of Women Voters of Michigan welcomes the creation of the Michigan judicial selection Task Force and applauds Justice Marilyn Kelly and Judge James Ryan for their leadership. Some would like us to believe that nothing is wrong with the way we choose judges and efforts to change the system are merely an attempt to take away our right to vote for judges. But voters know there are problems in the system. We are troubled by the growing influence of special interests in elections that are supposed to result in fair and impartial courts. We want to the lift the veil that conceals the big spenders. But elections are only half of the problem. In practice, Michigan has a mixed election-appointment system and roughly half of our Supreme Court and Appeals Court judges reach the bench by appointment. The Governor has complete authority to fill vacancies. Three of the seven current members of the Michigan Supreme Court arrived on the Court in this manner. Once appointed, they run as an incumbent in the next election and incumbent judicial candidates almost always win. Those who oppose reform on the basis of voters' rights don't seem concerned about this exclusive way of choosing judges."
LWVMI signed on to a letter initiated by our Coalition partner, Healing Our Waters to Senators Stabenow and Levin asking them to make the Great Waters Legislation a priority. Specifically, the passage of S. 3073, the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act of 2010 bill, was encouraged. "This will would permanently authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, establish the Federal Great Lakes Interagency Task Force to streamline efficiency between federal agencies, establish a multi-stakeholder advisory committee to better receive input (from us), and re-authorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act."
LWVMI members participated in a Michigan Is Ours campaign, sending hundreds of postcards to Michigan legislators with messages that encouraged legislators to look at tax changes to increase revenue and save essential government services. The League of Women Voters supports the development of a state-local tax structure that is adequate, equitable, flexible, and moderately progressive. The state should rely upon all three broad-based taxes on income, sales, and property with more reliance upon the income tax. We are increasingly concerned that the state’s current tax revenues are inadequate to support the services that are critical to a vibrant and healthy society.
LWVMI joined the Michigan Campaign for Justice (www.mijustice.org) in support of their goal to enact legislation that would provide funding for the state's public defense system. Michigan is one of only a handful of states that does not provide funding for indigent defense. Public defense appropriation is left to Michigan counties, which woefully underfund the system. Michigan is near the bottom of all states on the per capita amount spent on indigent defense.
LWVMI signed on as a coalition partner to Michigan Consumers for Healthcare Advancement whose mission is to provide a broad, strategic consumer voice at healthcare policy tables to achieve the best outcomes for Michigan residents as the Affordable Care Act is implemented.
September 10, 2010
LWVMI, along with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, filed an amicus brief with the Michigan Supreme Court in support of the Grand Traverse County Prosecutor's enforcement of campaign finance law against Meijers, in a situation involving a 2007 Meijer-financed recall of the Acme Township Board of Trustees.
June 28, 2010
LWVMI sent a letter to Senators Stabenow and Levin urging them to support S 3073, the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection act of 2010. "S 3073 is needed to provide long-term funding and oversight to restore our waters and prevent further pollution in the Great Lakes. Such restoration is considered by many to be critical for revitalizing the regional economies in our state and all those greatly influenced by the Great Lakes."
|action & advocacy 2009
LWVMI voices their support for (Michigan) HB 4368 and SB 52 which support early voting.
LWVMI sent a letter to the ACLU indicating support of the concepts of their "Reclaiming Michigan's Kids" report.
LWVMI sent a letter to the Natural Resource Trust Fund Board asking that they provide funding for the acquisition of the Saugatuck Dunes and designate it as an "Environmental Area", a designation which would protect this environmentally significant area from development.
September 16, 2009
LWVMI VP Katherine Barnhart's Letter to the Editor concerning the need to publicly fund judicial elections was published in the Detroit News . "Contributors to Michigan Supreme Court election campaigns are a category that should be included in the new rules on judicial disqualification. As a necessary step toward identifying potential ethical conflicts, we must bring to light the source and amount of all expenditures in judicial elections. Recent polling shows that 80% of voters think complete disclosure of spending on judicial elections is very important. The integrity of our justice system is at stake. The voters know what needs to be done. It is up to our justices to take the first steps and the Legislature to enact full disclosure and public funding laws."
August 23, 2009
LWVMI President Jessica Reiser's Op Ed piece on no reason absentee voting was published in the Lansing State Journal. Wrote Reiser, "In Michigan, we are not free to vote absentee but must select from a limited list of reasons when requesting an absentee ballot. This disqualifies most eligible voters from obtaining an absentee ballot. People over 60, many of whom are retirees, can vote absentee by right. Yet the busiest demographic - working moms and dads - do not have this opportunity."
LWVMI and seven endorsing organizations submitted comments to the Michigan Supreme Court regarding proposed judicial recusal standards. Michigan is the only state in the nation that lacks rules to disqualify a justice from participating in a case due to conflict of interest, bias, or other improprieties. Click here to view letter.
LWVMI supports HB 5993 which would allow a citizen to register to vote in person at any clerk's office, not necessarily the clerk's office of the municipality in which they reside.
LWVMI (Pat Donath) gave testimony before the Michigan Supreme Court on two issues: 1) the proposed new standards forcing judges to recuse themselves in cases in which the legal parties or their attorneys have made significant investment in a justice's election and 2) public financing of judicial campaigns.