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Monday, December 31, 2018

Getting out the vote is the most important way to fulfill the hope for a better America

Here is a link to an eloquent statement by Jesse Jackson, Sr., expressing how far we still have to go to establish equality of opportunity 300 years after the first African slaves landed in America.  It is from today's New York Times.



We are at the forefront of the most important federal and state voting rights cases around the country. We actively oppose discriminatory voter photo ID laws, fight against attacks voter registration process and hold lawmakers accountable when they try to institute last-minute Election Day barriers. We work year-round to combat voter suppression through advocacy, grassroots organizing, legal action and public education. Our efforts have resulted in the protection of voting rights and ballot access for millions of Americans.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Link to talking points on why asking about citizenship on the 2020 census will likely cut federal funding to our communities

One of the issues on which LWVRI members need to act this year is to oppose putting a citizenship question on the 2020 census.  You can see why this is so critically important to your community at this link.  Please contact your legislators and urge them to oppose putting the question on the census.


The League opposes a citizenship question on the upcoming census. Speak to your legislator about how this question would affect funding for our communities

Talking Points: Citizenship Question in 2020 Census

On this page, LWVUS will maintain updated talking points for all Leagues to speak with one voice about the dangers of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
Late in the evening on March 26, 2018, the Commerce Department announced the addition of an untested and unnecessary question to the 2020 Census form, which will ask every person in America about their citizenship status.
This issue can be overturned, and we will fight to see it removed from the 2020 Census.
Our strategy to counter this decision will be three parts:
  1. Characterize the decision by the Commerce Department to include the question as WRONG – and if the question remains, it will have a major impact on the accuracy of the Census.
  2. Reiterate the importance of the Census and the many uses of Census data for all communities.
  3. Action: We will fight to fix this and work with everyone who cares about the accuracy of the Census to change the decision and remove the question on citizenship from the Census.


Why including a question about citizenship is wrong and if this question remains, it will harm the results of the Census:  

  • The Constitution says to count all persons – not all citizens. 
  • The Commerce Secretary made a wrong decision to include this question in the Census.  
  • This unnecessary citizenship question is invasive and will raise concerns about the confidentiality of personal information. 
  • This intrusive question will cause participation in the Census to plummet. 
  • This question is a political move designed to frighten immigrants into not participating in the Census. 
  • The cost of adding an untested question this late in the process is significant to taxpayers.  

Why it is critical to get the 2020 Census right:  

  • Getting an accurate count in the 2020 Census is critical to all American communities.
  • Millions of people including community groups, local officials and business entrepreneurs rely on the Census to provide accurate, comprehensive data about our nation that impacts us all:  
    • Census data is the basis for fair political representation and this data is used to draw district lines reflective of the population.   
    • Community leaders use Census data to allocate resources including public safety planning and disaster response, education needs, hospitals, assistance for veterans and transportation.
    • Business leaders use Census data to make investment decisions that boost economic growth.
  • We only get one chance every ten years to get this right. The Census must be done fairly and accurately.  

We will fight to fix this decision and remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census:  

  • This is not a partisan issue. There is bipartisan opposition to adding the citizenship question, including 61 members of Congressmore than 160 Democratic and Republican mayors; six former Census directors who served in Republican and Democratic administrations; 19 attorneys general; the statistical community; and several dozen business leaders from across the country.  
  • We call on Congress to reverse this decision and remove the citizenship question from the Census. The stakes are too high to allow this question to derail the count.  
  • It is up to Congress to exercise oversight and appropriations authority over the Census Bureau.  
  • We will join forces with business leaders, elected officials of all parties as well as grassroots leaders and civic activists to defend our Census.
  • We call on our mayors, our city council members and local officials to speak out about this issue and tell Congress they must take action to fix this error in judgment. 
  • State officials are already acting. The state of California has filed a lawsuit and the state of New York plans to lead a multistate legal effort in opposition of the untested citizenship question on the 2020 Census. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Proposals for Reform: National Task Force on Rule of Law & Democracy Preet Bharara, Christine Todd Whitman, Mike Castle, Christopher Edley, Jr, Chuck Hagel, David Iglesias, Amy Comstock Rick, Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. October 2, 2018

Here is a link to the report of the National Task Force on the Rule of Law and Democracy, with ideas about what can be done.  Food for thought.


Monday, October 15, 2018

End of Voter Registration is October 16

This is an extremely important election.  Please make the effort to register and to vote.

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.

Worth Considering - Repeal the Second Amendment

The second amendment was enacted so that state militias could defend their states again the federal government.  It is no longer needed. " Repeal it!" says Justice John Paul Stevens.

Link to article

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

LWVRI Action 2018: Women's Health and Reproductive Rights

The League of Women Voters never supports or opposes candidates, but does take positions on issues we have studied on which we have reached consensus. Each year LWVRI reviews bills proposed in the RI legislature, and supports or opposes them based on positions arrived at after study and consensus.  


The Issue:  Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights

The Issue:  The League of Women Voters of Rhode Island (LWVRI) is considering important health care related issues in the current legislative session.  These include advocating for reproductive rights, and opposing efforts to prevent access to abortion, guaranteed under the Constitution by Roe v Wade, and perennially introduced bills such as “fetal protection,” and recognizing a fetus as “a human life upon conception.”

The League Position:  The League is committed to Reproductive Health Rights for Women. The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) believes that public policy in a pluralistic society must affirm the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices.  Position of Reproductive Choices (January 1983).  This position is the basis of our support of the Reproductive Health Care Act of 2017, which would prohibit the state from interfering with a woman’s decision to either carry to term or terminate her pregnancy.  The LWVUS believes that a basic level of quality health care at an affordable cost should be available to all U.S. residents.  Other U.S. health care policy goals should include the equitable distribution of services, efficient and economical delivery of care, advancement of medical research and technology, and a reasonable total national expenditure level for health care. (Go to www.lwv.org/content/impact-issues-online-edition to read the full positions.)

Action:  The LWVRI is working with the RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom (RICRF) to address issues concerning women’s reproductive health.  The following bills have been introduced so far this year.  To track bills that have been introduced, go to the RI State website.  Legislation Rhode Island/General Assembly/2018 Legislative Session/Bill Status/History, and insert the bill number.  You can also find listed the Bill Text. Click on Daily Introductions to find out what is being introduced.

Legislators are most liable to listen to their own constituents.  If your legislators are on the committees considering the proposed legislation, or if they are sponsors of the bills, it would be especially helpful if you would contact them.  Identify yourself as their constituent and a League member    to support the League positions on these bills.

House Bills the League Supports:

H-7077 - Provides that no pregnant applicant for insurance coverage be denied coverage due to her pregnancy.  By: Ajello, Kazarian, Ranglin-Vassell, Donovan. 1/10 House Judiciary Committee

H-7095 -  Taxation: Exempts from the sales tax products used for feminine hygiene in connection with the menstrual cycle. By Ajello, Tanzi, Hearn, Fogarty, Ruggerio.
1/10 House Finance Committee

H-7169 - Labor and Labor Relations - Grants unpaid pregnancy leave to part time workers; would clarify their access to unpaid sick leave during their pregnancy, and provides additional protections for pregnant workers who work in the medical field.  By: Perez, McKiernan, Hull, Almeida, Lombardi.  1/12 House Labor Committee 

H - 7182.  Act relating to State Affairs and Government - The healthy pregnancies for incarcerated women act.  Prohibits the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners in their 3rd trimester during transport to and from court proceedings by sheriffs, and/or incarceration at the ACI with annual reports to the General Assembly.  By Ajello, Shanley, Walsh, McEntee, Craven.
1/17 House Judiciary Committee
H-7193 - Provides that any person including, but not limited to, a minor who is pregnant, could give effective consent for medical, dental, health and hospital services relating to prenatal, delivery, and post-natal care. By: McNamara, Ajello, Donovan, Ruggerio, Vella-Wilkinson. 
1/18 House Health, Education and Welfare Committee

H-7340 - The Reproductive Health Care Act. Prohibits the state from restricting persons from terminating pregnancy prior to fetal viability.  Would repeal the State’s unconstitutional laws regulating abortion.  By Ajello, Walsh, Casimiro, Donovan, Ranglin-Vassell. 
1/31 House Judiciary Committee

H-7363 - Prohibits insurance companies from varying the premium rates charged for a health coverage plan based on the gender of the subscriber.  (Gender Rating). By Kazarian, Carson, Ajello, Ruggerio, Tanzi.  1/31 House Corporations Committee

H-7625 - Relating to insurance - Requires individual/group health contracts (effective 1/1/19) to provide insured/spouse/dependents 12 month contraceptive coverage/voluntary sterilization/patient education/counselling/follow-up services and Medicaid recipient coverage for a 12 month supply. By: Kazarian, Tanzi, Fogarty, Hearn, Ajello. 2/14 - House Finance Committee

H-7736 - Relating to Health and Safety. Would provide that any person, including, but not limited to, a minor who is pregnant, could give effective consent for medical, dental, health and hospital serveices relating to prenatal, delivery, and post-delivery care. By Vell-Wilkinson, Maldonado, Messier, Bennett, and Walsh.  2/28 House Judiciary Committee

House Bills the League Opposes:

H-7026 - The RI Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act.  Defines and prohibits certain such acts with certain exceptions. Does not recognize any right to abortion. By Corvese, Assinaro, Ucci, O’Brien. 
1/3 House Judiciary Committee   
H-7113 - Would criminalize the knowing and intentional failure of a physician, nurse, or other licensed medical person to provide reasonable medical care and treatment to an infant born alive as a felony and manslaughter if the infant dies.  By Perez, Vella-Wilkinson, Ucci, Diaz. 
1/11 House Judiciary Committee

H-7164 - Born Alive Infant Protection Act.  Would provide for the duties and obligations of medical personnel in certain circumstances.   By: Perez, Chippendale, Diaz, Almeida, Lombardi.   1/11 House Judiciary Committee

H-7180 - Resolution recognizing the fetus as a human life on the existence of a heartbeat. 
By: McLaughlin, Nardolillo, Fellela, Perez.  1/17 House Judiciary Committee

H-7735 - Relating to Criminal Offenses - Children. Would make the practice of aiding a minor in the process of getting an abortion a civil and criminal offense.  By Vella-Wilkinson, Corvese, Maldonado, Messier, and Fellela. 2/28 House Judiciary Committee

Senate Bills the League Supports:

S-2163 - The Reproductive Health Care Act. Prohibits the State from restricting persons from terminating pregnancy prior to fetal viability.  Would repeal laws regulating abortion. By: Golden, Sosnowski, Miller, Calken, Nesselbush.  1/24 Senate Judiciary Committee

S- 2268 - The Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act.  Prohibits the use of restraints on pregnant prisoner during transport to and from court proceedings by sheriffs and/or incarceration at the ACI with annual reports to the General Assembly.  By:  Lynch Part, Metts, Gee, Quezada, Nesselbush.  2/1 Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-2399 - relating to insurance - Prohibits insurance companies from varying the premium rate charged for a health coverage plan based on the gender of the individual policy holder, enrollee, subscriber or member (known as “gender rating.”  By: Sosnowski, Calkin, Golden, Coyne.  2/15  Senate Health and Human Services Committee

S-2400 - Relating to insurance - Establishes a special enrollment period for pregnant women to obtain health coverage at any time after the commencement of the pregnancy.  By:  Golden, Calkin, Miller, Sosnowski, Crowley.  2/15 Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Senate Bills the League Opposes:

S-2173 - Act relating to Businesses and Professions - Board of Medical Licensures and Discipline.  Makes it unprofessional conduct for a physician not to take all reasonable steps to insure that a viable fetus being carried by their patient be brought to term.  By: Ciccone, Lombardi.  1/23 Senate Judiciary Committee

S-2142 - Criminalizes the knowing and intentional failure of a physician, nurse, or other licensed medial person to provide reasonable medical careened treatment to an infant born alive a felony and manslaughter if the infant dies. By Ciccone, Lombardi.  1/23 Senate Judiciary Committee

S-2152 - The Born Alive Infant Protection Act.  Provides certain duties and obligations of medical personnel in certain circumstances.  By Ciccone, Lombardi.  1/23 Senate Judiciary Committee

S-2535 - Health and Safety - Would define and would regulate, and in some cases, would prohibit dismemberment abortions.   By DiPalma, Goodwin, McCaffrey, Metts, and Crowley.           3/1 Senate Judiciary Committee

Mary Chace