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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gun Control—Searching for Safety in Rhode Island 

There has been a lot of press recently about gun control and gun safety in Rhode Island. In October the Providence Journal ran a week-long series on the cost of gun violence in the state (http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20131012-the-cost-of-a-bullet-price-of-gun-violence-takes-widespread-toll-in-rhode-island-1.ece). 

Two more recent articles are of particular interest. One published on Wednesday was a survey conducted by the Providence Journal and WPRI ( http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20131119-journalwpri-12-poll-nearly-half-of-rhode-islanders-polled-say-states-gun-laws-dont-go-far-enough.ece); the other, in today's paper, discusses  where Rhode Island stand as far as reporting mental health records to a national gun check database. (http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20131120-report-ri-still-not-contributing-mental-health-records-to-national-gun-check-database.ece). Mayors Against Illegal Guns rates Rhode Island among the worse as far as gun control (http://www.demandaction.org/fatalgaps).

Both Pro Jo articles are worth a read, but you might also like to check out this podcast from Backstory Radio with the American History Guys (http://backstoryradio.org/shows/straight-shot-guns-in-america-rebroadcast/). This particular episode brings an historical (and some times surprising) perspective to the issue of gun control. Backstory is a great podcast, by the way; check out the one on domestic spying.

You can check out the League's position on gun control on our website www.lwvri.org.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is there a relationship between party politics and Voter ID? Two good reads and a bit of Jon Stewart.

The League has been following Voter ID laws both here in RI and on the national level. There was a great piece in Sunday's NY TImes by Richard Hasen showing the link between Voter ID, voter suppression, and party politics.

A related article by Alexander Keyssar of Harvard that was published in the Times in February in 2012 (http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/the-strange-career-of-voter-suppression/) and reprinted by the League in the RI Voter, is worth reading again in context with Hasen's article.

In the Hasen piece, a mention is given about a piece on the Daily Show. It's worth taking the five minutes to watch it. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-october-23-2013/suppressing-the-vote.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Members to select Advocacy priorities for 2014
The League of Women Voters of RI's annual Advocacy Committee meeting to organize our efforts for 2014 will be held November 11, 10:00 am – 12:00 Noon at Susan Escherich’s house, 133 Terrace Avenue, Riverside, RI.

The LWVRI is partnering with organizations such as Common Cause, ACCESS RI, the Coalition for Reproductive Justice, and ACLU to act on bills of mutual interest to our organizations. So far, our members have indicated interest in the following areas of advocacy. They will form subcommittees to track legislation introduced in their areas of interest, and work with the Advocacy committee to determine which hearings need to be monitored and which bills need response from us.
The meeting is open to members only.

We are excited that so many of you have already volunteered, and hope that others of you will contact us to join one of these subcommittees or to propose another area of interest to the League in which you would like to volunteer. Remember that we can only take action on issues on which we or the national LWV have a position.  You can see these positions on our web site at www.lwvri.org.

Please contact Derry Riding at 209-5091 or Susan Escherich at 433-4896 to tell us your ideas and how you would like to help.  If you cannot make this meeting, please email Susan Escherich at sescherich@verizon.net to tell us which of these subcommittees you would like to help.

Advocacy Subcommittees

1. Accountable Government, open records, ethics

2. Women’s Issues/Reproductive Justice

3. School Funding Issues

4. Election Procedures – voter id, early voting, removal of master lever

5. Environmental Issues

6. Gun Control

7. Civil Liberties

Friday, October 18, 2013

Can we talk? League Connect 2013
Join the Conversation with League Leaders & Members
The League of Women Voters of Rhode Island Board of Directors invites all members and local and statewide leaders to League Connect 2013 on Tuesday, October 29, 2013, to learn about state programs and hear from Leagues throughout the state about the issues that concern them. League Connect 2013 will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at Cranston Central Library, 140 Sockonosett Road (across from Whole Foods).
LWVRI President Jane W. Koster says that the meeting is to examine the League’s agenda for the upcoming year. “We are embarking on some very exciting programs this year, and we want to make sure the state board is communicating the excitement we feel about the programs.”
The meeting is intended to be a conversation for all to share their interests, concerns, and questions about League projects and issues. It will also be an opportunity for League members from around the state to meet one another.
On the agenda will be brief presentations on Elections 2014, including the expansion of VOTE411 and the outlook for candidates’ forums and statewide televised debates, and voter registration drives; the “Election-Ready Schools” program, the LWVUS Agriculture Study; and opportunities for advocacy for the upcoming legislative session.
The purpose of the meeting is  to bring the  LWVRI board and the LWVRI Education Fund board together with local League leaders and all members for a lively discussion about our state League’s work.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The League just received notice that the Barrington Public Library and East Bay Citizens for Peace present a talk by Professor Carl T. Bogus, Roger Williams University School of Law, on "GUNS: PUBLIC POLICY, POLITICS & LAW" on Tuesday, September 17th, at 7 PM at the Barrington Public Library (www.barringtonlibrary.org, 401-247-1920 x 2 for more information)
Professor Bogus will discuss the issues of gun control and gun rights in America including why gun control is so politically difficult to achieve. He will address the legal framework of the Second Amendment, and how different kinds of gun control either have reduced or increased homicides, injuries and suicides in the past. Time for questions and answers will follow.
Free and open to all

Friday, August 9, 2013

Did you catch the article about Treasurer Raimondo’s investments in hedge funds in this past Sunday’s Providence Journal? The discussion of whether or not RI should be investing in hedge funds for state pension funds should be left for others. What concerns the League is the lack of transparency. The article went into detail on the pros and cons of the investment, but as Mike Stanton points out in his piece, the only person who get to decide if hedge fund investments are a good idea is Treasurer Raimondo. Read what Mike Stanton has to say. 

The League and Common Cause RI, RI ACLU, and the RI Press Association all agreed that it’s wrong to not include the public in the discussion of  RI’s pension fund investments.
Here’s the letter that the League along with these other groups sent to Treasurer Raimondo. Why not add your voice?
Patty MacLeish,
Editor, LWVRI Voter

Friday, June 7, 2013

Capitol Television

Watch the General Assembly in action online with Capitol Television! Follow the link below for the schedule and links to the Channels.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

The LWV Newport's Coffee with the Legislators Part

If you missed the LWV Newport's Coffee with our Legislators, you can view the event on the Web site of the Jamestown Record.

Thanks to the Jamestown Record for this great service.
Patty MacLeish, LWV Newport County

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Newport County has Coffee with Legislators

Representative Linda Finn, who represents parts of Middletown and Portsmouth, helped the LWV of Newport County attract a standing-room only crowd at its "Coffee with Your Legislators" event on March 23. Rep. Finn has proposed legislation that would require registration of guns in Rhode Island. The Newport Rifle Club had sent an email blast to its members about the meeting; the house was full.

We had designed the event to cover as many topics as possible. The good planning paid off, and as moderator I only had to explain that there would be no signs and no applause or shouting out when others were speaking. Everyone was pretty well behaved.

Gun control was only one of the topics, however.

The legislators—Senators Paiva-Weed, Ottiano, and DiPalma and Representative Abney, Finn, Martin, Canario, Edwards—answered questions on the master lever, ethics, marriage equality, taxation of veterans benefits, and agriculture. Senator Ottiano was among those who had participated in the all-nighter at the State House on marriage equality. Representatives Martin and Canario both serve on the house judiciary committee. On April 12, Representative Martin was one of the members  who had voted the ethics bill out of committee (the vote was 8-0). The next day Rep. Edith Ajello, chair of the judiciary committee, declared the vote null and void. Read more about the whole brouhaha, which resulted in  Rep. Canario replacing J.Patrick O'Neill on the committee, in the ProJo  -->http://news.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/2013/03/former-challenger-binder-appalled-by-foxs-torpedo-of-ethics-billready.html. The paper also editorialized about the situation in today's (March 27) paper (http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODE/ProJo/), "Fox's ethics-bill bomb," suggesting that the speaker should get the bill back on the floor for a vote. Common Cause RI has set up a Web site www.ethicsheldhostage.com that shows a ticking clock counting the time since the bill was sent back to the Judiciary committee. Read more about the issue in the most recent issue of the LWVRI Voter.

President of the Senate Paiva Weed was not enthusiastic about doing away with the master lever. She said that the main argument she had heard against it was that it was confusing and people did not know what they were doing when they voted using the master lever. She thought that voters do know what they are doing and that the criticism was insulting to the voters.

One might consider, however, that 44 voters chose the Moderate Party via the master lever in the 2012 election in Jamestown. However, there were no Moderate Party candidates running in Jamestown. Read more about the Master Lever at MasterLever.org.

Overall, the event was a great success. After the Q&A many the of the legislators stayed to take additional questions. Thanks to the Potter League for letting us use its facilities.
Patty MacLeish
LWV Newport County

From Left: Reps. Canario, Martin, Finn, and Edwards (standing) with LWV moderator Patty MacLeish


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Education Finance Committee Sets Plans

The LWVRI's Financing Education Committee met recently to set plans for the year. The new RI funding  formula is in its second year of a 10 year phased in implementation.  The RI Department of Education (RIDE) has a comprehensive section on the formula at its website, http://www.ride.ri.gov/, if you want to learn more about how it works. (Click on "funding formula" then click on "Formula Presentation" for an introduction to the formula.)
Keep it Simple. Don't be surprised if you have to read through the introduction more than once to get the gist of what's going on. In fact, that's one of the problems the committee we see with the formula. This lack transparency  is cause in particular by the quadratic mean adjustment.  This complexity makes it difficult to evaluate the formula's adequacy in providing equalization of local taxable wealth resources.

The committee also discussed the adequacy of using the federal free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) eligibility as the way of determining where funds should go to provide additional resources to children who need them.  In the past, additional funds were provided for Special Education and English as a Second Language children.  RIDE says it uses FRPL instead because eligibility is simpler to determine and many the Special Ed and ESL children also qualify for FRPL.

The FRPL. We all agreed that we have to start now to see if the FRPL is indeed the best means to use to give additional funds to districts whose students are poorer, non-English speaking or handicapped in some way.
We plan to develop an interview  about the use of FRPL or Special Education and ESL as the  determinants to distribute additional funds. These interviews would be carried out by League members with local district business manager or financial officer.

If you would like to join the committee please contact Joanne DeVoe. We will be meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2, at Anna D's Cafe on East Main Road in Portsmouth.
Patty MacLeish,
Committee Member

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Take Action with the League--Check out our Action Priorities
If you haven't already done so, go to the LWVRI web site (www.lwvri.org) and read about the League's advocacy priorities for 2013. We are tracking election and voting issues, including Voter ID, early voting, and eliminating the "master lever." You can, by the way, learn a lot about the so-called master lever and how it affects elections, especially at the local level, at MasterLever.org.
Also on our legislative agenda are women's health (Thank you to Mary Chace for following this issue for us), gun  control, and merit selection of magistrates.
If you haven't received your Voter yet, you can download it from the web site. (It's on the right side of the page--scroll down.) I think it's a great issue (if I must say so myself)--chock full of information about our advocacy issues.
Patty MacLeish
Editor, LWVRI's Voter