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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Voting records of Congress on toxic chemicals

EWG sent me this chart on the voting records of Congressmen on bills to weaken safety from toxic chemicals.  We can be proud of Ciciline and Langevin - they both have perfect records.  But if you know people in states that aren't so lucky, you might want to share this record with them.  if you click on the orange "click here" phrase below, you can right click to copy and paste the actual link into the browser.  Take action.  Spread the word!

In the past three years, Congress has reversed or delayed chemical bans, gutted chemical safety rules, rejected sound science, weakened worker and consumer protections, and denied justice to asbestos victims. But many representatives are hoping to hide their toxic voting records.
Here at EWG Action Fund, we think you deserve to know the truth about these votes.
EWG Action Fund went through and examined the voting record of every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and created a toxic chemical policy scorecard so you can know where your member stands.
This is the first time there has been a scorecard focused solely on chemicals and your health.
Here is how to read the scorecard:
  • The scorecard is organized alphabetically by state and then numerically by congressional district.
  • Next to the representative’s name, we have listed 17 bills and indicated when the representative voted to strengthen (green checkmark) or weaken (red x-mark) policy related to chemicals in the environment.
  • We calculated the percentage of their votes that were pro-environment and gave each member a score. The higher the score, the more they voted to protect our environment and health.
You can learn more about the different bills here.
- EWG Action Fund

questions for legislators

At our candidates' forums and in candidates's statements we have been seeing interest in changing the rules of the legislature so that bills important to the people will receive a hearing on the floor.  For years, the House leadership has been able to prevent controversial bills from being voted on.  If we all keep bringing this up in our forums maybe the message will get through that we are tired of business as usual.

Friday, September 14, 2018

LWVRI supports the right to education. Meeting announcement for Sept 20

Dear Friend,

As children in Rhode Island returned to school this month, many were returning to schools that are in urgent need of both physical and instructional improvement. Last spring, a group of educators and parents formed Friends of Rhode Island Public Schools (FRIPS) to advocate for the state’s public schools and students. (Our mission statement is attached.) We invite you to join us at the Rochambeau Library next Thursday, September 20, at 5:30 pm, to hear about FRIPS and our plan to work with Columbia University’s Center for Educational Equity.

The Center for Educational Equity is bringing a lawsuit in Rhode Island federal district court this fall to establish a nationwide right to an education that prepares all students to be capable citizens. Schools in Rhode Island and throughout the country have been failing to carry out this prime responsibility for decades. Victory would establish a federal right that would require state policymakers to enact appropriate educational reforms and ensure equitable funding on an ongoing basis. (The center’s presentation is attached.) Public support and engagement is critical to the success of this effort. To that end, our group has been asked to help find plaintiffs and to sponsor forums across the state.

To hear more, ask questions, and share your concerns and comments, please come to our meeting at the Rochambeau Library at 5:30 next Thursday, September 20. The library is at 708 Hope Street in Providence.

Joanne DeVoe
Paul Graseck
Carole Marshall

Monday, May 28, 2018

RI Reproductive Health Care Act to be heard May 31

Hearing in Senate for Reproductive Health Care Act

This is the news we've been waiting for! Senate hearing this Thursday, May 31 for the Reproductive Health Care Act- S-2163 at around 4:30 p.m. This law would make abortion legal and safe in Rhode Island.

Come one and all, either to sign in support, or to submit written or oral testimony. You are also invited to lobby legislators at 3:00 p.m with the Coalition for Reproductive Freedom (22 member groups, including the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island.)

We are asking that the bill be passed in committee, and brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote this session.

This is your best chance to support women's reproductive freedom. Come if at all possible, and email, call or write your legislators and Senator Erin Lynch Prata, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Monday, April 9, 2018

League Forum on Immigration April 16

The League of Women Voters of Rhode Island Educational Forum

Title:  Defining Our Community:  A Forum on Immigration and the U.S. Census.
Date:  Monday, April 16, 2018
Place:  Community College of RI (CCRI) Newport Campus, One John H. Chafee Blvd.
Time:  6:00 – 7:00 P.M.

Steven Brown, Executive Director, RI ACLU
John Marion, Executive Director, Common Cause RI
Susan Taylor, Immigration lawyer

There will be Q&A at the end of the program. 

Jane W. Koster
401 339 2351


The issue of immigrants is a broad and complicated national issue, but one that also directly affects each and every on of us in Rhode Island.

Our panelists will speak on this overall theme and discuss recent developments - the Trump Administration’s plans to ask about citizenship on the 2020 Census, the debate over so-called sanctuary cities, the fate of Dreamers under President Trump’s repeal of the DACA program, the controversy over drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants and other related public policy issues.  

Many think of the Census as only involving redistricting at the congressional, state and local level.  It is also critically important in the distribution of funding to Rhode Island and localities for federal assistance programs in the amount of over $3 billion.  Meanwhile, the national debates over sanctuary cities, DACA and other immigration issues resonate strongly in Rhode Island, a state with large immigrant communities.

Join us.  Be informed.  Bring your voice and questions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rhode Island is among the states that might lose a representative in Congress if our population is under counted because of adding a census question on citizenship.

New York Times, March 28, 2018
Here’s Why an Accurate Census Count Is So Important

The federal government bases a large amount of its spending decisions, including on highways and low-income programs, on census data. CreditRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States census is so much more than just a head count. It is a snapshot of America that determines how congressional seats are apportioned, how state and federal dollars are distributed, where businesses choose to ship products and where they build new stores. To do all that properly, the count needs to be accurate.
The Commerce Department’s decision to restore a citizenship question to the census beginning in 2020 is prompting concerns about curtailing participation and possibly undercounting people living in the United States, particularly immigrants and minority groups who are expressing discomfortwith answering questions from census workers.
Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, acknowledged concerns about decreased response rates in a memorandum released on Monday night. But he said asking about citizenship would enhance the results by helping calculate the percentage of the population eligible to vote.
An undercount of the population would have far-reaching implications. It could skew the data that are used to determine how many congressional representatives each state gets and their representation in state legislatures and local government bodies. It would shape how billions of dollars a year are allocated, including for schools and hospitals. It would undermine the integrity of a wide variety of economic data and other statistics that businesses, researchers and policymakers depend on to make decisions, including the numbers that underpin the forecasts for Social Securitybeneficiaries.
Here are several of the commercial, political and research efforts that depend on accurate census data:
Divvying up seats in Congress, state legislatures and more
The Constitution requires the government to enumerate the number of people living in the United States every 10 years, and to use that data to apportion the seats in Congress among the states. The calculation is based on total resident population — which means citizens and noncitizens alike — and it generally shifts power between the states once a decade, in line with population and migration trends. States including Texas, Florida, Colorado and Oregon are projected to gain seats after the 2020 numbers are in. Illinois, Ohio, New York and West Virginia are among the states expected to lose seats. An undercount could shift those projections.
Lawmakers also use census data to draw congressional district boundarieswithin states, an often-controversial process that can help decide partisan control of the House. Census data also underpin state legislative districts and local boundaries like City Councils and school boards.
Handing out federal and state dollars
The federal government bases a large amount of its spending decisions on census data. Researchers concluded last year that in the 2015 fiscal year, 132 government programs used information from the census to determine how to allocate more than $675 billion, much of it for programs that serve lower-income families, including Head Start, Medicare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Pell grants for college and reduced-price school lunch programs. Highway spending is also apportioned according to census data.
The calculation for determining congressional districts is based on total resident population — which means citizens and noncitizens alike. CreditKiichiro Sato/Associated Press
Influencing business decisions
To sell products and services, companies large and small need good information on the location of potential customers and how much money they might have to spend. The census provides the highest-quality and most consistent information on such items, and businesses have come to depend on it to make critical choices.
Census data help companies decide where to locate distribution centers to best serve their customers, where to expand or locate new stores and where they have the best chance of seeing a high return on investment. That is why business groups have been particularly concerned about the integrity of that data.
 “The 2020 census is used to help construct many other data products produced by the federal government,” said Michael R. Strain, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute who writes frequentlyon the importance of census data for policymakers and the private sector.
“Some of those products are heavily used by businesses when determining where to open new stores and expand operations, or even what items to put on their shelves. This affects retail businesses, for sure, but businesses in many other sectors as well,” he added.
Planning for various health and wellness programs
Low response rates from any one demographic group would undermine the validity of various population-wide statistics and program planning.
Scientists use census data to understand the distribution of diseases and health concerns such as cancer and obesity across the United States population, including drilling down to race and ethnicity to identify health patterns across demographics. Public health officials then use the data to target their interventions in at-risk communities. Inaccurate census data could lead public health officials to invest in solving a problem that does not exist — or worse, to overlook one that does.
“It’s getting harder to conduct the census, due to a variety of factors, including increasing cultural & linguistic diversity, and distrust of the government,” said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, an economist who directs the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. “The addition of the citizenship question will make the enumerators’ jobs even harder by heightening privacy concerns and reducing participation among immigrants, who may fear the information will be used to harm them or their families.”
Gaming out Social Security
An undercount in the census could also impact forecasts about Social Security payouts, which are already increasing as a share of the federal government’s revenue.
When Congress plans for the costs of the country’s Social Security needs, lawmakers rely upon demographic projection about the population’s future: the number of children expected to be born, the number of people expected to die, and the number of people expected to immigrate. If baseline data regarding the current population are inaccurate, future projections could be skewed, causing financial challenges down the line.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

League Day at Statehouse



Seth Magaziner
RI General Treasurer Seth Magaziner will be the featured speaker at League Day at the State House on April 3, 2018. His focus will be the new school upgrade plan coming out of Governor Raimondo's Rhode Island School Building Task Force that Magaziner co-chaired.
Agenda for Tuesday April 3rd at the Governor's Reception Room
3 P.M. Social Hour - Meet and Greet - Outside the Governor's Reception Room
4 P.M. League Program
5 P.M. RI General Treasurer Seth Magaziner speaks to the League
Please bring your friends and invite your General Assembly representatives to attend.