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.

A new Voter is here! Read the President’s Column

Mary Schilling, President
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.

See the entire Voter here.

Again this year we are excited to offer to the
greater Williamsburg community our signature
lecture series Great Decisions, sponsored
nationally by the Foreign Affairs Association
and locally by the League partnering with the
Williamsburg Regional Library. The program
series, which runs Tuesday mornings during
February and March, was completely subscribed
by December 13, and the wait list is healthy. This
year’s speakers promise to match the excellence
of those in the past. Thanks to the Great
Decisions team for their work in managing
registration and securing our speakers.

Our Williamsburg League has taken a highly
visible role in the LWV-VA Women’s
Legislative Roundtable (WLRT) during General
Assembly. We invite you to join our members
in Richmond on Wednesday mornings beginning
January 16 to hear from legislators and
representatives from non-profits and state
agencies addressing proposed legislation. The
presentations are followed by the opportunity to
meet with our own Delegates and Senators to
advocate for specific upcoming bills.
Carpooling to Richmond offers the added benefit
of getting better acquainted with fellow
members. If you can’t make it to the WLRT,
please consider advocating by postcards, emails,
and phone calls on critical bills. We’ll let you
know through Action Alerts.

Given the passage of the Medicare expansion
in the Commonwealth, you won’t want to miss
the upcoming forum on Medicaid: Bridging the
Costs of Health Care on Thursday, January 24,
7 pm at the Williamsburg Regional Library. A
panel of professionals will share their
perspectives on the challenges and the possible
effectiveness of Medicaid in addressing the
critical medical issues in our community.

While we continue to have concerns about
leadership and a broad range of issues at the
national level, we are excited about the infusion
of diversity among newly elected members of
the House of Representatives, and there are also
reasons for optimism in the Commonwealth. A
recent survey by the Wason Center on Public
Policy reports that 81% of Virginians support
the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment,
which is on the agenda of the upcoming General
Assembly. And support for Redistricting by an
independent commission is 78% and higher
across both Democratic and Republican districts.
It’s great that two of the major issues the League
currently supports have real bipartisan support
across the Commonwealth!

Take a deep breath and buckle up for the new
year. There’s important work ahead!

New Local Action and Advocacy Policy

The Williamsburg League is developing a new Action and Advocacy Policy, drafted primarily by board member Linda Rice. Scroll down to read it or click here to open in a separate tab.

 

 

LWV-WA Action and Advocacy Policy

October 2018

 

 

 

Definition:    Action includes both advocacy and lobbying.  Lobbying is an attempt to influence specific legislation, either proposed or already introduced. LWV-VA has an official lobbyist who is given authority to speak on behalf of the state league.

However, members of local Leagues can advocate for an issue(s).   Advocacy consists of activities that educate legislators on particular issues which affect their members and helping them find solutions to persistent problems. When League members visit legislators, they need to indicate that they are expressing their views as individuals and not officially representing the League.

 

Examples: 

Advocacy

  • Telling your member of Congress how a federal grant your organization received has helped your constituents.
  • Educating a member of General Assembly about the effects of a policy on your constituency.

Lobbying

  • Asking your member of Congress or the General Assembly to vote for or against, or amend, introduced legislation.
  • Emailing a “call to action” to your members urging them to contact their member of Congress in support of action on introduced legislation or pending regulations.

Preparing materials or organizing events in support of lobbying activities

 

Why Does Advocacy Matter?

When done effectively, advocacy influences public policy by providing a conduit for individuals and organizations to voice an opinion.

These efforts can, in turn, sway public opinion, garner press coverage, and ultimately provide policymakers an opportunity to respond to constituents’ needs.

 

Roles and Responsibilities – LWV-WA Action and Advocacy Coordinator (AAC) and Coordinator Chairs (CC)

 

  1. Action/Advocacy
    1. Identifies needs for action/advocacy by monitoring newspapers, websites, e-newsletters, observer reports, etc. (AAC and CC)
    2. Prepares and presents action/advocacy proposals for board approval (AAC)
    3. Coordinates action/advocacy campaigns (AAC)
    4. Prepares and issues “Calls to Action/Advocacy” for members via appropriate channels including: (AAC and CC)
      1. Email and/or constant contact
      2. Facebook
    5. Encourages members to take action/advocate as individuals (AAC and CC)
    6. Prepares statements, letters, news articles, panel discussion etc. and works with PR chair or appropriate board members on distribution (CC)
    7. Attends LWV-VA meetings in Richmond, as able, and encourages LWVWA members to attend: (AAC and CC)
      1. Pre-session Roundtable meeting, usually the first Wednesday in December.
      2. Women’s Legislative Roundtable meetings, usually every Wednesday during the legislative session.
  • League Lobby Day, usually the first Wednesday in February
  1. Scheduling meetings with legislators
  1. Coordinates LWVWA testimony to the JCC County General Assembly Delegation (AAC)
  1. Suggests items to be included in president’s testimony and prepares or assists with writing the testimony.

 

  1. State-wide Action/Advocacy  – Identifies needs for action/advocacy in the following ways:
    1. Reviews LWV-VA website on a periodic basis (more often during the General Assembly session) for items that LWVWA should take action on or members should be informed about. (AAC and CC)
    2. Monitors Legislative Information System (LIS) and Richmond Sunlight and other appropriate media outlets. (AAC and CC)
    3. Tracks legislation on the Virginia General Assembly website to determine action opportunities. (AAC and CC)

 

  1. Public Outreach – Coordinators and committee members should:
    1. Convene panel discussions open to members and the general public about issues such as but not limited to election integrity, education, gun reform and redistricting.
    2. Identify speakers with expertise in the above issues or other issues.
    3. Use video resources to enhance public understanding of the above issues or other issues.

 

 

 

 

LWVUS 2018 National Convention: Creating a More Perfect Democracy

by Mary Schilling, President and LWVUS Convention Delegate

More than 1,000 League of Women Voters members from across the country, representing some 762 local leagues, gathered in Chicago for the Biennial LWVUS 2018 Convention. Speakers were inspiring, sessions informative, and camaraderie intense. Most importantly, the body in plenary sessions considered numerous proposals for inclusion in the LWVUS Program for 2018- 2020. Program items create the foundation for national action, advocacy, and lobbying as well as inform both state and local league action and advocacy. Proposals passed by the plenary body include:

• That the LWVUS support gun control, gun safety, and gun ownership limitations a priority in its lobbying efforts.

• That the LWVUS support an emphasis on the ERA this year and every year until the ERA is ratified and becomes a US Constitutional Amendment and that it supports efforts to remove the time limits for ratification of the ERA.

• That the 2018 Convention urgently reaffirm its long-held position that the Electoral College be abolished.

• That the LWV stand united with and in support of efforts to price carbon emissions whether cap-and-trade, carbon tax/fee or another viable pricing mechanism.

• That the LWV reaffirm its commitment to the Constitutional right to privacy for an individual to make reproductive choices.

• That the LWV support a set of climate assessment criteria that ensures that energy policies align with current climate science.

• That the LWVUS adopt an amended 2018–2020 campaign for making democracy work. The campaign includes insuring a free, fair, and accessible electoral system for all eligible voters by focusing on voting rights, improving elections, and advocacy for the National Popular Vote Compact Campaign, finance/money in politics, and redistricting.

• That the national league retain all current LWVUS positions in the areas of representative government, international relations, natural resources, and social policy.

June State Council Report

by Anne Bradstreet Smith, LWV-VA Program Vice President

The Williamsburg League was well represented at the LWV-VA Council meeting in Henrico on June 16. Thirty-eight delegates representing all local leagues were among the approximately 60 people attending. The proposed state budget was presented, and attendees heard Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, Assistant Director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, speak about political behavior and analysis of recent and upcoming elections in Virginia and the nation.

Updates to two LWV-VA positions were presented and formally moved as motions from the LWV-VA Board. Chair Linda Rice (Williamsburg) presented the results and recommendations on Behavioral Health for a total revision of the Mental Health position, now renamed Behavioral Health. The Public Funds for Public Schools Task Force, chaired by Carol Noggle (Prince William), presented a new section to the Education position on School Choice options. Delegates accepted both reports.

Chair Alison Beall (Richmond) presented a preliminary report of the Women’s Rights Task Force. Their review of the Code of Virginia determined that the specific points of the current League position have been addressed by legislative action, thus satisfying the specific charge of the study. However, sexual harassment emerged as a major unaddressed issue. The Task Force requested authorization to extend its study and to make recommendations that update the current position to address sexual harassment. The Task Force will bring its recommendations for action to the LWVVA 2019 Convention. If you are interested in working on this phase of the Women’s Rights study, please let me know. Congratulations to all three Task Forces for their good work during the past year. Having completed their research, now it’s time for all of us to engage in strong advocacy and action.

On a related note, Pat Fishback (Richmond) updated Council delegates on the status of the ERA. Pat has been one of the leaders in this effort; you can view her presentation to the 2018 Virginia House of Delegate on our website under Action and Advocacy / Women’s Rights. You will also find the adopted “ERA Talking Points” in that section of the site.

Candidate Forum Cancelled

by Rubyjean Gould, Voter Services Co-chair

Once again it has been necessary to cancel our League’s attempts to offer citizens an opportunity to hear from and ask questions of the candidates running for office in November.

Immediately after the June primary election, I contacted all the candidates for Congressional Districts 1 and 2 offering several October dates for Candidate Forums in Williamsburg. While the Democratic challengers responded promptly that they would like to participate, I was unable to get a response from the two Republican incumbents. Despite repeated emails, phone calls, and letters over the course of several months, there was no response. Regretfully, on Aug 21 I contacted all five candidates to report that we could not go forward with the public Forums without the participation of all candidates.

While it is no consolation, I understand that this pattern of refusal to meet with the public to answer questions of importance to constituents not unique to Williamsburg or Virginia. Of course, the losers are citizens who deserve an opportunity to hear directly from candidates seeking their vote. Only by Empowering Voters through such voter education efforts as Candidate Forums can the League help to Defend Democracy. We will continue the fight.

Also read President Mary Schilling’s letter published in the Virginia Gazette on August 25, expressing the League’s disappointment that there will be no local Candidate Forum and encouraging readers to ask the candidates to – at least – respond in writing to questions about issues on the website cited in the letter. I encourage you to do the same.

Important Research from the Commonwealth Institute

The Commonwealth Institute in Richmond provides nonpartisan policy research and analysis to advance the well-being of Virginia communities, and improve the economic security and social opportunities of all Virginians. Their values include:

  • Independence
  • Fairness and Equity
  • Integrity
  • Empowerment

Here are a few of their most recent easy-to-understand half sheets: