Chris Piper to speak at the annual meeting today!

Voters voting in polling place

LWV-Williamsburg Area Fall Reception is today, September 19 at 4:30 p.m. at Legacy Hall in New Town.
Speaker: Chris Piper, Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner. Hear the latest on election integrity in Virginia.
Our program BEGINS promptly at 4:30 p.m., so please arrive a bit early.
Wine & Cheese Reception will follow. No cost. New and interested members welcome.
If you are coming, don’t forget to RSVP by clicking here.

Public Comment on Gun Violence Prevention

August 9, 2019

Dear Director Howard and members of the Virginia State Crime Commission,

As President of the League of Women Voters – Williamsburg Area, I write in support of several critical pieces of legislation regarding gun violence prevention.  A super majority of Virginians support the concept of sensible gun reform and legislation.

We urge you to pass the following pieces of legislation on to the General Assembly for their serious consideration and vote:

– SB4019, which would close background check loopholes

– SB4012, which would implement Extreme Risk Protection Orders in Virginia

– SB2024, which would ban assault firearms equipped with high capacity magazines, bump stocks, or silencers

The public safety of Virginians is at stake.  Having lived in the Commonwealth since 1999, I have witnessed the impact of the massacres at Virginia Tech and the recent gun violence in Virginia Beach and all those other less publicized incidents.

Please use your influence and political decision-making power to make a difference by boldly addressing this unprecedented challenge.  You have an an opportunity to do the right thing for the people of our great Commonwealth.

Sincerely,

Mary Schilling, President
League of Women Voters-Williamsburg Area

What does the League do?

We thought about what we’ve been up to the past year and wanted to share it with you. The League pursues non-partisan political work that educates voters and supports our community.

Voter Service

  • The League’s Voter Registration team attended a June 14, 2018, Flag Day Naturalization Ceremony, registering new citizens as voters.
  • The President wrote a formal letter to Virginia Elections Commissioner Chris Piper in June 2018, regarding League’s concern about mapping errors resulting in numerous voters being incorrectly assigned to the wrong polling places in the 2017 election.
  • Our Voter Education team distributed over 500 copies of Facts for Voters, a flyer listing names and contact information for all elected officials in James City County, Williamsburg, and York County as well as top officials in the Commonwealth.  Also included is information on voter registration.
  • Active Voter Registration volunteers visited high schools, community colleges, and senior residences in the early fall in preparation for November 2018 election, repeating these efforts again in the spring to register additional students.

Civic Education

  • 270 subscribers, both League and community members, participated in our Great Decisions, our signature foreign affairs lecture series, with topics on: Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics; Nuclear Negotiations; US-Mexico Partnership; Regional Disorder in the Middle East; Rise of Populism in Europe; US-China Trade; State of US Diplomacy; Refugees and Global Migration.  The 8 lectures were presented on Tuesday mornings in February and March 2019.
  • Gun Violence Prevention event on May 13, 2019, attended by 58 members and friends, featured an update on the status of various legislative initiatives to curb gun violence and increase gun safety.
Lori Haas of
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
  • League presented public panel on January 24, 2019, discussing “Medicaid: Bridging the Cost of Health Care,” that included 4 healthcare professionals, economists, and community agency heads.
  • A dozen League members attended an April 26 Legislative Wrap-up Session hosted by the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance and featuring comments by Senator Monty Mason and Delegate Brenda Pogge.

Advocacy

  • On October 3, The Virginia Gazette, published the League President’s substantive commentary articulating the League’s mission and commitment to Voter Education.  The article called for civic and political involvement and urged informed voting in the midterm elections.  The timing of this article was prompted by the fact that the League was unable to host traditional pre-election Candidate Forums lacking the required participation of all candidates for each position. 
  • Launched Advocacy and Action groups on Election Integrity, Gun Safety Legislative Reform, and Civics Education in fall 2018.
  • President Schilling spoke in support of the Equal Rights Amendment at a January 9, 2019, meeting of the James City County Board of Supervisors.
  • At the May 2019 LWV-VA Convention, our League was awarded Third Place in the Advocacy Competition, measuring the number of individual advocacy initiatives based on membership size.  This is the second year we have placed third out of 13 Leagues across the Commonwealth.
  • League members joined students and community members for the March 23 March to End Gun Violence, hearing remarks by students, elected officials, and other community organizers for sensible gun reform.

Membership Events

  • Seven members (6 Board) attended the LWV-VA Council Meeting on June 16, 2018, in Henrico, with information shared on state positions and other priorities.
  • League President, Vice President, and Immediate Past President attended the July 2018 Biennial LWVUS Convention in Chicago, among 1,000 members from across the country.
  • W&M President Katherine Rowe spoke to 150 members and guests at our Fall Reception at Legacy Hall on October 10, 2018.
  • Twenty-three members attended the LWV-VA Fall Workshop Day at Colonial Williamsburg Conference Center on September 8, 2018, were who participated in training on advocacy strategies.
  • Fifteen members participated in the W&M Homecoming Parade on October 19, 2018, riding in a red convertible and marching, carrying banners celebrating W&M’s 100 years of admission of women and encouraging parade viewers to vote in November 6 Midterm Election in an effort to Empower Voters, Defend Democracy.
  • On November 10, 2018, 12 members attended opening day at Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia at the Jamestown Settlement museum.
League Members at the Tenacity exhibit at Jamestown Settlement
  • Four members attended the November 19, 2018,all-day symposium on the Equal Rights Amendment, featuring law school faculty, elected officials and others.
  • Sixteen members attended the LWV-VA December 5, 2018, Pre-session Roundtable in Richmond to hear speakers, lobbyists and representatives of non-profits who highlighted upcoming proposed bills in 2019 General Assembly.
  • Seventy-five members attended the annual Holiday Reception at Schilling home on December 6, 2018.
  • On January 19, 2019, members participated in an ERA Women’s March on DOG Street, featuring elected officials and non-profit speakers, with League members marching and carrying LWV-WA and ERA banners.
  • From January 31, 2013 to January 31, 2019, our League doubled in membership, from 100 to 200.  Current membership is at 232 — and still growing.
  • Our League was the most consistent League with the largest number of members participating in the Women’s Legislative Roundtable. The six Wednesday morning sessions during General Assembly featured Delegates and non-profit lobbyists discussing bills being forwarded through committees and to the floors of the House and the Senate.  League members sitting in the Senate gallery were recognized at League Day, February 6, 2019.
  • Our April 4, 2019 New Member Orientation Reception at Schilling’s home drew 17 of our newest members to learn more about the League from Board members and to get acquainted with one another.
  • Eleven Voting Delegates and 3 Observers participated in the May 17-19, 2019, LWV-VA Convention in Norfolk with outstanding speakers and breakout sessions, bringing together Leaguers from across the Commonwealth.

Monday’s Gun Violence Prevention Talk

Thanks to our speaker, Lori Haas, the Virginia State Director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, for a thorough and heartfelt rundown of her organization’s common-sense goals for General Assembly legislation for the next sessions. Key goals include reintroducing the one-handgun-a-month purchase limit to address handgun trafficking, achieving universal background checks, and achieving Extreme Risk Protective Order laws in Virginia. The goals of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence are adapted to be appropriate to Virginia but are similar to the National League’s position on Gun Violence, which is included below. Thanks to Christine Payne and Mary Schilling for organizing this talk on a very current issue in our state.

Mary Schilling, Lori Haas, and Christine Payne

League Sends Letter to U.S. Senate on Need to Reduce Gun Violence

The League sent a letter to the U.S. Senate outlining the policies needed to curb gun violence. The League believes it is time for Congress to adopt legislation that will close the gun show loophole, increase penalties for straw purchases of guns, ban assault weapons, place limits on high capacity ammunition magazine size, and fund research and reporting on gun violence in America. Members of the LWVUS Lobby Corps will be visiting with Senate offices regarding this important issue.


March 22, 2018

To: Members of the U.S. Senate

From: Chris Carson, President

Re: Reducing Gun Violence

On behalf of our 300,000 members and supporters, as well as the millions of Americans at risk every day, the League of Women Voters strongly urges you to pass common sense solutions to the gun violence that is plaguing our nation.

It is time for Congress to adopt legislation that will close the gun show loophole, increase penalties for straw purchases of guns, ban assault weapons, place limits on high capacity ammunition magazine size, and fund research and reporting on gun violence in America. Curbing gun violence is a critical matter of public safety, public health, and public confidence.

Along with the majority of American citizens, the League supports closing the gun show loophole and providing for universal background checks. Currently, background checks are not required for the 40 percent of gun sales that take place at gun shows, person-to-person sales or other private transactions. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that support for background checks is almost universal with 97 percent of voters in favor of background checks on all gun purchasers. This is the highest level of support ever measured by the independent poll. In addition, Congress should pass legislation to increase the penalties for straw purchases in which individuals who do not have criminal records buy guns and pass them on to individuals who are not eligible to purchase a firearm, including felons and domestic abusers.

The League also believes that the 115th Congress should pass legislation to ban all military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high capacity ammunition magazines. The Quinnipiac poll found that 67 percent of registered voters nationwide support a ban on the sale of assault weapons. Placing limits on magazine size is a common-sense solution to shootings that kill many people at once. This limit should include magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. These devices allow shooters to fire numerous rounds in rapid succession without having to stop and reload, and they have been a central part of the mass killings of recent years.

Throughout the country, local and state Leagues have been holding meetings with their fellow citizens to discuss the crisis of gun violence. They have testified before state legislatures and met with their neighbors in community meetings to come together, air their differences and work to find common ground and solve some of the difficult problems presented in the gun debate, including mental health issues and the problem of domestic violence. Congress should follow suit and start to act on common sense solutions to curb gun violence.

from https://www.lwv.org/league-sends-letter-us-senate-need-reduce-gun-violence

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General Assembly Results and Observations

Excerpted from a Voter Express article by Carol Noggle, Voter Protection Officer, State League of Virginia

Yes, it was a “wild” General Assembly session, as one newspaper headline stated. All sorts of unanticipated drama involving constitutional officers, but the legislative process continued with the LWV-VA and others in attendance. Observers could see during floor sessions some differences in the House and Senate culture, protocol and decorum, including somedebate obstruction. “Will the Gentleman yield?” “No, I will not yield.” Each side of House attempted to “hijack the rules.” Frequent Point of Personal Privilege (PPP) statements were very “pointed” from both sides on various bills including those regarding firearms in churches, ERA ratification, limiting the power of the Governor, changes to long-standing Rules, teaching Bible literature in the schools, and even on which June Tuesday to have the Primary elections. The House, with many subcommittees, affects the disposition of bills differently than the Senate. The House subcommittees have been described as “powerful gatekeepers” because a successful bill in the full Senate will fail in a House subcommittee that has only seven members.

What actually happened? Of 93 election related bills, 24 passed; among them:

• No-excuse absentee voting, though only for seven days.

• Absentee polling places will stay open properly for voters who are in line at 7pm.

• Preventing split precincts and establishing proper boundary lines advanced.

• Yet to be determined is whether or not voters will be considered “provisional” while waiting for verification of Social Security numbers.

• Improved ballot order to list candidates before the ballot questions will ensure that voters see the candidates first.

• Recount procedures for tied elections were clarified.

What didn’t pass?

• Requiring Voter Registration and information in Commonwealth high schools;

• Restoration of voting rights and voter registration information in regional jails; Extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots;

• Allowing the Photo ID of a student enrolled at an out- of-state university;

• Extending the expiration time allowance for a DMV Photo ID;

• Most gun safety legislation including a “Red Flag” or Extreme Risk Protective Order bill;

• Ranked choice voting in local elections.

Environmental bills that passed included one on coal ash mitigation. Legislators prohibited any carbon dioxide cap-and-trade efforts by the Governor or a state agency. Regarding firearm safety, legislators rejected a “red flag” bill or Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) and a bill related to allowing firearms in churches. One successful opioid-related bill expanded who can possess and administer naloxone or other opioid antagonist, after completing training. Below are articles relating on the successful passage of a bipartisan commission on redistricting and inaction on the ERA. The redistricting bill, aimed at limiting gerrymandering, needs additional steps to be added as an amendment to the Constitution.

The April 2019 newsletter is here, & we’ve been busy!

Mary Schilling, President
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.

While it’s easy to get discouraged these days, there have been some positive signs of responsible engagement in the challenging issues of the day. Our League consistently was well represented at the weekly Women’s Legislative Roundtables during General Assembly. Each week also included opportunities to meet with our Delegates and Senators to advocate on legislation on which the we have League positions.

Don Shilling (left) and Mary Schilling & Bobbi Falquet (right) welcome former ambassadors Nancy Ely- Raphel and Thomas Pickering to Great Decisions on March 4. Career Ambassador Pickering, our speaker, served more than four decades as U.S. ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, Jordan and the United Nations, as well as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs—the third highest post in the State Department. His partner Ely-Raphael served as ambassador to Slovenia and legal affairs in the State Department.
Don Shilling (left) and Mary Schilling & Bobbi Falquet (right) welcome former ambassadors Nancy Ely- Raphel and Thomas Pickering to Great Decisions on March 4. Career Ambassador Pickering, our speaker, served more than four decades as U.S. ambassador. His partner Ely-Raphael served as ambassador to Slovenia.

The February/March Great Decisions lecture series was a huge success with outstanding speakers addressing eight of the thorniest and most critical issues in current foreign affairs. With approximately 270 in attendance each Tuesday morning, the signature program helps us reach out to the broader Williamsburg community.

William & Mary’s Students Demand Action group planned a full week of programs and events on gun violence prevention, culminating in a March to End Gun Violence at the Colonial Capitol Building on DoG Street on Saturday, March 23. The featured speaker at the rally was Rep. Elaine Luria, representing Virginia’s 2nd Congressional district. Our League Advocacy and Action program committee members have been hard at work examining Election Integrity issues and exploring initiatives in Civics Education in the public schools. As part of the Gun Violence Prevention initiative, Christine Payne has invited Lori Haas, Virginia Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence to speak on Monday, May 13 at 7 pm at Stryker Building. I urge you and interested friends to attend.

While these programs and events may seem modest, this is what democracy looks like.

We are excited about the upcoming LWVVA Biennial Convention in Norfolk, May 17- 19. Our thanks to Anne Smith, vice president for programs on the State Board and a member of our own Board, for her masterful job in developing a substantive convention program. The speakers’ and session topics are timely: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Election Security and Integrity; Redistricting; Defending Democracy; Women’s Issues-Sexual Harassment. While these programs and events may seem modest, this is what democracy looks like. Remember, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” You can make a difference.

read the full newsletter

Join Us for LWV-VA Biennial Convention!

Anne Smith, LWV-WA and LWV-WA Board Member and Convention Chair

local league president and member of state league board

I am excited to tell you about the 39th LWV-VA Convention at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott on May 17-19. We think this will be both an informative and fun session! The location is close and easy to access so you can come for the full Convention or take advantage of the single-day registration.

The League of South Hampton Roads is the host League and has planned activities on Friday evening … a “Dine Around” to take advantage of Norfolk’s fine restaurants or a water ferry to those in Olde Towne Portsmouth. You can register early, beginning at 5:00 pm Friday, May 17, and join the fun. Saturday morning’s plenary session will be League business, primarily reports. Voting will take place during the Sunday morning plenary.

Diversity and Inclusion are major considerations for all levels of the League – National, State, and Local. Saturday’s lunch speaker on Diversity is Christy S. Coleman, a Williamsburg native with extraordinary accomplishments. Named by Time as “One of 31 People Changing the South,” she is the CEO of Richmond’s American Civil War Museum, which encompasses several historic sites. Previously, she was President/CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit and Director of Historic Programs for Colonial Williamsburg.

Let Mary Schilling know of your interest in attending soon.
Registration ends April 25.

We have some truly informative breakout sessions planned for Saturday afternoon. Speakers include Jim Spore, 30+ year Virginia Beach City Manager talking about Infrastructure, Innovation, Transportation issues. Others include Skip Stiles, Executive Director of Wetlands Watch on “What about This Weather?”; Walt Latham, York County Director of Elections/General Registrar and President of the Voter Registrars Association of Virginia; and W&M Law Professor Rebecca Green on Redistricting Reform. Before our Sunday a.m. plenary session, Ron Carlee will speak on “Defending Democracy on All Levels.” A professor at Old Dominium University, Dr. Carlee, past Arlington, VA County Manager and Charlotte, NC City Manager, is a global presenter for the International City Managers Association (ICMA).

Although Convention adjourns at noon Sunday, the South Hampton Roads League has scheduled a “bonus session” for the afternoon focused on THE ENVIRONMENT. It includes knowledgeable speakers on a topic relevant for us all, including combating rising sea levels. LWV-WA can send eleven voting delegates, but absolutely every member is welcome to attend as observers and participate in every way except voting … it is an opportunity to learn, meet others from around the Commonwealth, and also … have fun! I hope many of you will choose to participate as observers.



Join Us in Richmond for February 6 League Day

by Phoebe Kent, Voter Co-editor

LWV-VA League Day at the General Assembly is Wednesday, February 6, 2019. We will attend the Women’s Legislative Round Table (WLRT) from 8:30-9:30 a.m. After WLRT, members will visit the offices of key Senators and Delegates to advocate for legislative action.

Williamsburg Leaguers will gather at the Capitol to be seated together in the Senate or House Galleries for the noon recognition ceremonies. It’s a thrill to be introduced and recognized by Lt. Governor Fairfax in the Senate or House Speaker Cox – and we hope to have a good-sized crowd present. Lunch and networking with other League members follows. An Italian buffet lunch will be served at the nearby Berkeley Hotel. Luncheon pre-registration is required by February 1. To register for the lunch, go here.

06feb8:30 am2:00 pmLeague Day