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lwvmi joins "adopt and amend" lawsuit
June 19, 2019. Today, the ACLU of Michigan filed an amicus brief joined by the League of Women Voters of Michigan and the American Association of University Women in support of the brief filed in the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of Michigan One Fair Wage and Michigan Time to Care, the proponents of last year's successful petition drives to raise the minimum wage and provide paid sick time for all Michigan workers. The brief urges the Court to reject the legislature’s attempt to undermine the will of the voters by removing citizen-led proposals from the ballot through an anti-democratic maneuver known as “adopt and amend.” Voters Not Politicians also filed an Amicus Curiae brief, urging the Michigan Supreme Court to rule the Michigan Legislature’s “adopt and amend” practice of passing and then gutting citizen-initiated legislation in the same session unconstitutional.

In 2018, citizens collected enough signatures to place initiatives on the ballot that would raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour for all Michigan workers and guarantee one hour of sick time for 30 hours worked. But instead of allowing citizens to vote on these important measures at the November 2018 election, the Michigan legislature adopted them into law in order to keep them off the ballot—and then proceeded to gut them as soon as the election was over. This cynical move is unconstitutional and had never been done before. The Michigan Constitution gives citizens the right to propose laws that must either be adopted by the legislature or voted on by the electorate the ACLU’s brief explains. “It therefore violates the Constitution for the Legislature to do what it did here: ‘adopt’ the people’s proposal—with no intention of allowing it to become law—and then snuff out that proposal during the same legislative session.” This case will be argued in the Michigan Supreme Court in July 2019.

US SUPREME COURT RULING ON REDISTRICTING

JUNE 27, 2019:  The U.S. Supreme Court declined to set a standard to rein in partisan gerrymandering. Read the LWVUS press release.  As a result. Judy Karandjeff, LWVMI President, released the following statement:

"Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision is disappointing and will allow those who rigged Michigan's elections based on partisanship off the hook in federal courts. However, with the new independent redistricting proposal in Michigan that the majority of voters supported in 2018, we look forward to a new system being used in 2021 to draw districts for the next decade.   The League is very proud of the work done by our League members, expert witnesses and our lawyers in our case and the unanimous victory we had in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The information we discovered about the extent of gerrymandering done in Michigan shows the abuse of power in the process. We look forward to educating voters on the importance of applying for the new redistricting commission. The League of Women Voters shined a light on how egregious the gerrymanders in our congressional and legislative districts are and we will continue fighting until every vote counts." 

Read more about LWVMI's gerrymandering lawsuit here

DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION
The League of Women Voters of Michigan (LWVMI), in both its values and practices, affirms its belief and commitment to diversity and pluralism. LWVMI recognizes that diverse perspectives are important and necessary for responsible and representative decision making, and subscribes to the belief that diversity and pluralism are fundamental to the values it upholds.

Inclusiveness enhances the organization’s ability to respond more effectively to changing conditions and needs, and therefore, LWVMI will in both principles and practices promote the inclusion in participation in any activity of LWVMI all persons whatever their gender, race, socio-economic status, creed, age, sexual orientation, national origin or disability. Read more about the League's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by clicking here.

LWVMI 2019 CoNVENTION:  mAY 17-19

The League's 2019 Convention in Livonia celebrated the 100th birthday of the League of Women Voters of Michigan and the 100th anniversary of suffrage for Michigan women. The Convention was informative, productive and fun. Attended by over 200 people, the convention delegates voted to support:

  • Budgets for FY 2020 and FY 2021
  • Per-member-payment of $23.00 for FY 2020 and FY 2021
  • A new study on "lame duck" legislative action
  • Bylaw changes that amend the starting date for new board members to July 1, and the number of delegates at the state convention.

A number of League members were honored with awards. The Belle Brotherton Award, which honors an individual whose outstanding leadership and significant accomplishments have benefitted the citizens of Michigan, inspired others and fostered greater public participation in the democratic process was presented to Susan Smith (Ann Arbor Area). Laura Callow (Northwest Wayne) and Chris Sullivan-Rathwell (Dearborn-Dearborn Heights) won the Maryann Mahaffey Community Service Award, and Nancy Schewe (Ann Arbor Area) and Beth Moore (Lansing Area) won the Helen Milliken Leadership in Civic Empowerment Award. Read President Judy Karandjeff's President Report provided at the convention by clicking here.  Click here to see the new LWVMI Board of Directors. 

KNOW YOUR VOTING RIGHTS

The League of Women Voters of Michigan supported Proposal 3, "Promote the Vote", which was passed by the voters in the November, 2018 election. This proposal ensures that every eligible person can vote and that every vote will be counted. It safeguards our elections with audits and more accurate voting lists, and removes barriers that can make it harder for citizens to fulfill their responsibility to vote. This constitutional amendment will:

  • Protect the right to vote a secret ballot
  • Ensure military service members and overseas voters get their ballots in time for their votes to count
  • Provide voters with the option to vote straight party
  • Automatically register citizens to vote at the Secretary of State’s office unless the citizen declines
  • Allow a citizen to register to vote anytime with proof of residency
  • Provide all registered voters access to an absentee ballot for any reason
  • Ensure the accuracy and integrity of elections by auditing election results

The ACLU of Michigan has published a comprehensive "Know Your Voting Rights Guide" since Proposal 3 was adopted. The Guide provides answers to many questions about how to register and how to vote.

Michigan environmental council's roadmap 2019-2022
A new Michigan legislature was sworn in on January 1, 2019. A whole slew of public health and environmental issues are threatening Michigan and its residents that legislators need to address. Decision-makers in the Capitol need to deal with these issues thoroughly and swiftly, but they do not have to do it alone. Michigan Environmental Council and Michigan League of Conservation Voters, in conjunction with our many member and partner organizations, including League of Women Voters of Michigan, have put together an Environmental Roadmap for lawmakers and the new administration, a multi-year plan for addressing Michigan’s top environmental and public health challenges. Click her to see the 2019-2022 Environmental Roadmap.
LINE 5 PIPELINES:  AN AVOIDABLE ENVIRONMENTAL RISK

The League of Women Voters of Michigan is one of 21 members of the Oil and Water Don't Mix Coalition that sent a letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ("MDEQ") and the US Army Corps of Engineers ("Corps") on June 29, 2017 regarding Enbridge Oil Company’s joint application to the MDEQ and the Corps (No. 2RD-DFDK-Y35G) to install 22 anchor supports on the Line 5 pipelines in the Mackinac Straits. The Coalition members are Michigan organizations dedicated to the protection of Michigan’s water, natural resources, public trust in those resources, the environment, communities, and the health, safety and general welfare of citizens.

The Coalition organizations are requesting that MDEQ and the Corps take the following actions with regard to Enbridge’s joint application:
1. Reject as incomplete due to its overly narrow scope of review;
2. Require a comprehensive review of Line 5 in the Straits that includes an assessment of adverse environmental impacts, risks, and feasible and prudent alternatives;
3. Temporarily terminate the transport of crude oil in the Line 5 pipelines during this comprehensive review; and
4. Hold a formal public hearing given that Enbridge Line 5 occupies publicly owned waters and bottomlands and the threat of a catastrophic oil pipeline rupture to the Great Lakes are of tremendous controversy and have generated an extraordinary level of public engagement. Read the entire letter here.

Other resources:
Under-the-Straits tour of Pipeline 5 (3 min. video)
Area businesses expressing concern about Pipeline 5 (3 min video)

ADVOCATING WITH THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS:  WHAT CAN YOU DO?

1. Join the LWV
    a. Connect with people who share your democratic values
    b. Share in decision making and work
    c. Know you are a part of bigger coalitions

2. Learn About Issues
    a. Improve your general knowledge of issues – learn from others
    b. Focus on issues important to you – Share your knowledge
    c. View issues from a broader perspective – respect people’s right to different viewpoints

3. Strengthen our Voice & Establish Relationships
    a. Engage
    b. Mentor
    c. Demonstrate
    d. Advocate

4. Be Realistic – build bridges, not walls
    a. Compromise
    b. Non-partisan solutions

5. Stay Positive
    a. Hard work needs positivity – remember to have some fun
    b. Avoid burnout - take time for yourself & your loved ones

THE LEAGUE ADVOCATES FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT
The advocacy arm of the League of Women Voters of Michigan is hard at work. We monitor legislation as it is introduced and makes its way through the legislature. We also review proposed regulations which may impact environmental or public policies. Using state or national League positions, the Michigan League takes action when possible. Letters to the governor, legislators and other decision makers are routinely sent by President Judy Karandjeff, and when allowed, the League also delivers testimony at public hearings. This year, the League's advocacy has been focused on legislation concerning voting rights, environmental issues and the Flint water crisis. Check out our coverage of recent advocacy by reviewing a list of letters, press releases and testimony here.
THE GOAL: BECOMING A TOP TEN EDUCATION STATE
The Education Trust- Midwest, a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization, has published their 2016 Michigan State of Eduction Report. Titled, "Michigan’s Talent Crisis:The Economic Case for Rebuilding Michigan's Broken Public Education System."  The report deals with steps to reach the goal of becoming a top ten education state. Today, Michigan's K-12 system is among the weakest in the country and getting worse. In a little more than a decade, Michigan has gone from being a fairly average state in elementary reading and math achievement to the bottom 10 states. This is a devestating fall. Read the annual report here.
CURRENT LWVMI NEWSLETTER
Click here to open the April, 2019 newsletter.