I. Action at the State Government Level
Action to obtain support for League positions includes oral and/or written testimony to members of the General Assembly, committees of the Maryland General Assembly, the Governor, state agencies, state study commissions, state-level meetings and public hearings, and contacts with state officials.
A. Responsibility for Action & Advocacy.
All action at the state governmental level in the name of the LWVMD is the responsibility of the LWVMD Board. Only the President, Action Chair, or a director or other member designated by the President may speak for or take action on behalf of the LWVMD. LLs and MAL units may take action on state governmental issues only when authorized to do so by the state Board and only in conformity with, not contrary to, the position taken by the LWVMD. Individual members may act in the name of the League only when authorized to do so by the state Board. (See the LWVMD Bylaws, Article X, Section 5 and Section 6.)
B. Each LL and MAL unit president has a formal responsibility to send a letter from the LL or MAL unit, or take whatever other official action is requested, in response to every League Action Alert. The LWVMD may also request that LLs and MAL units ask their members to contact state officials and speak as individual citizens, but not as League members, on issues of concern to the LWVMD.
C. The Basis for LWVMD Action.
Action at the state level must be based on LWVMD or LWVUS positions and/or principles,or LWVNCA (National Capital Area positions. If there is some question about whether or not a contemplated action is authorized under a LWVUS position, clearance and clarification will be sought from the LWVUS.
D. LWVMD Action approved by initiation of Action at the state level by LLs, MAL units and ILOs. Before a LL, MAL unit or ILO initiates action at the state governmental level based on national, state, ILO, LL or MAL unit positions, the LL, MAL unit or ILO board must obtain LWVMD Board approval. In considering whether to grant permission, the following criteria will be applied:
1. Does the issue or legislation relate to other LLs or MAL units and other counties?
2. Is there a conflict in position among LLs and MAL units within the state?
3. Would such action be in conflict with current LWVMD or LWVUS positions?
4. Is the issue under study by LLs or MAL units with an eye toward state member agreement?
5. Is the issue divisive within the state?
6. If all the answers to the above these questions are negative, the Board will probably grant permission, particularly if the legislation is clearly local. If the issue or legislation applies across the state, the Board also may grant approval in some cases. In cases where time for approval is too short for board review, and if approval seems routine, the President may grant approval for LL, MAL or ILO action. Guidelines for LLs, MAL units and ILOs for action at the state level on local positions are described in Section III.
II. Action at the Federal Government Level. In response to Action Alerts issued by LWVUS:
A. The LWVMD has the primary responsibility for contacting U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives from Maryland. LLs and MAL units should also contact the Maryland’s U.S. Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representative in response to LWVUS Action Alerts whenever possible.
B. Action Alerts on federal government level Initiated by the LWVMD, LLs or MAL units. With LWVUS approval, the League, LLs and MAL units may contact federal officials about proposed federal legislation that directly affects the State or a local area.
III. Public Responsibility. Action and Advocacy, if no position:
A. LWVMD, LL, MAL unit and ILO leaders, (officers, board members or off-board directors) may not advocate in opposition to a LWVUS or LWVMD position. If the LWVUS or LWVMD has no position on the issue, they may testify as individuals.
B. A LWVMD spokesperson can speak if not a recognized spokesperson both for the LWVMD and another organization as long as they speak to the LWV positions and the positions of the two organizations are compatible.
IV. Legislative Priorities.
A. Each year the Board canvasses LLs, MALs and MAL units for suggestions on legislative priorities for the next General Assembly session. The Board selects the priority issues based on input from the LLs, MAL units and state Board members. The priorities establish the framework for LWVMD action on legislation.
B. LWVMD’s formal Action Alerts or Calls to Action to LLs and MAL units generally pertain to proposed legislation related to the adopted priority issues but they include issues that arise during the legislative session or in the interim.
V. Contacting Legislators.
A. LLs, MALs and MAL units establish a procedure for contacting their members of the General Assembly when requested to do so by the LWVMD. The members of the networks should be prepared to respond as quickly as possible. The members lobby their legislators as individuals.
B. Copies of letters to Legislators. LLs and LWVMD leaders should send copies of their letters to members of the U.S. Congress to the LWVMD President and the LWVUS Legislative Action Department. LL and LWVMD leaders should send copies of letters to state government officials to the LWVMD President or to the Action Chair.
VI. Responsibilities of the LWVMD Action Chair
A. Report from State Circle
1. Recruit reporters. Determine which of last year’s reporters want to continue, what other subjects need to be covered (especially those the Board has chosen as priorities).
2. Meet with RSC editor - either the 2 of you, or at a meeting for reporters. Prepare an agenda for the meeting.
3. Send out guidelines for testimony and action alerts. (Action Chair does not have to edit what reporters write – RSC editor does that.)
4. Each issue of RSC is posted on the web and sent out to the subscription list by the office manager.
1. Follow bills every couple of days as they are introduced. For RSC, reporters determine which bills they write about but Action chair has responsibility to look for bills that we should testify on with input from reporters – Action chair’s most important responsibility is determining if we have a position to support or oppose legislation. If possible, the Action Chair and LWVMD president review all testimony. Sometimes reporters want to testify in person, Action Chair must decide with LWVMD President who will testify or if testimony will be in writing only.
2. Office manager will post testimony on the website.
C. Action Alerts
1. LWVUS Action alerts - sign up for leadership emails and when you get an action alert – ask Office Manger to post on web and send to members.
2. LWVMD Action alerts - On some issues, reporters will tell you that we need to get members to make calls, send emails. On issues that are League priorities you will to decide in conjunction with RSC Reporter and LWVMD President when to issue alerts. Action chair should draft alerts, review with President, and have office manager post on website and send out to action alert list.
D. Legislative Day
1. Plan the agenda.
2. Send materials to Local League presidents early to get them to recruit members to attend and make appointments for meetings with their Legislators.
3. Determine (with LWVMD President) what the most important issues are to do a one-pager for members to hand legislators – and a longer piece giving members background on each issue.
4. At the event – Moderate. Ask reporters to discuss the bill of most importance that they are covering and report on the issues that do not have their reporter present.
5. Work with president to obtain a speaker to review the proposed budget and a key note speaker for the luncheon.
E. Advocacy Course – LWVMD has provided a half-day class on the Art of Advocacy in Annapolis for League and community members. If the Board wants to continue this practice:
1. Plan agenda in conjunction with Board.
2. Secure speakers.
3. Work with Board and LWVMD office manager to recruit participants.
"Program" includes LWVMD positions, development of new LWVMD positions through consensus or concurrence, and action (advocacy) based on those positions. The LWVMD Program Chair, usually a Vice-President, is responsible for coordinating the program development process and consensus or concurrence process, and revision of Study and Action: A Leader's Guide to State Program.
I. Consensus - "Consensus" is agreement statewide among a substantial number of participating members, based upon the sense of meeting discussions, or other venues for expressing opinions. Consensus is based upon material developed to educate members enough to come to, or not to come, to consensus and geared toward action as its final goal. Consensus is not just a simple majority nor necessarily unanimous and is not a vote. Minority opinions must also be taken into account.
II. Concurrence - "Concurrence" is agreement statewide among a substantial number of members with an existing position of a LL or Leagues. It may also mean agreement with positions developed by a resource committee appointed by the Board, or with positions of Leagues outside of Maryland. LLs may either accept or reject in total the positions proposed for concurrence: the wording cannot be changed.
III. Criteria for consensus or concurrence -Consensus and concurrence are valid only when two-thirds of the LLs take part in the process.
IV. Program Development.
A. The Program Chair requests, that LLs and MAL Units review existing state positions, propose changes, and submit proposals for topics they believe require new or extensively updated LWVMD positions. This should be done four months before State Convention. LLs and MAL Units also propose a new study either with consensus or concurrence as the appropriate method of developing new state positions.
B. The Board reviews the LL proposals and presents its recommendations to the LLs and MALs and MAL units at least one month before Convention.
C. Convention delegates consider the Board's recommendations and may adopt them by a majority vote. Delegates may also, by a majority vote, grant consideration to proposals that the Board did not recommend; they may adopt such proposals by a two-thirds vote.
D. Existing positions, ratified by the Convention, become the basis for Action; the consensus or concurrence process begins for topics adopted by the Convention that require new state positions.
V. The Consensus and Concurrence Process
A. The Board appoints a committee chair to manage the study in coordination with the LWVMD Program Chair. The committee chair assembles a committee whose members are representatives of LLs, and sets time frames for the committee's work, including deadlines for LLs to submit Consensus or Concurrence Reports to the state Program Chair.
B. The LWVMD Board gives LLs and MAL units notice of the consensus or concurrence deadline just after its calendar meeting that is generally held each summer. The LLs and MAL units can then include these deadlines in their LL calendars.
C. The committee researches the topic, generates objective Fact Sheets and background data, develops Consensus Questions or Concurrence Statements that link back to the Fact Sheets and a standard, uniform Report Form that includes minority opinions, reasons for majority and minority opinions and qualifications. These materials are sent to LLs who make the Fact Sheets available to their members, generally through LL newsletters. LL members may then meet to discuss the Consensus Questions or Concurrence Statements, or other means may be used (e.g., mail, email, telephone polling, email) with approval of the Board. LLs complete the Reporting form (one consolidated form for LLs that have more than one meeting group) and forward it to the LWVMD Program Chair by the deadline stated.
D. The LWVMD Program Chair convenes a committee to determine consensus and concurrence results. The committee includes the Program Chair, one additional Board member, the study committee chair (on or off-Board) and three members representing LLs of various sizes and geographic locations. They will:
1. Analyze the Report Forms from each LL
2. Report the results to the Board
3. Propose for the Board's approval the positions on which consensus were achieved. (Positions for concurrence were approved at the time materials were released to the LLs)
E. After LWVMD Board approval, the positions are released to members and the general public (where appropriate), and Action may be taken based on them. The new positions are ratified at the next LWVMD Convention, or occasionally at State Council. (in an emergency situation)
F. Revisions to Study and Action - The LWVMD Program and Action Chairs collaborate after the biennial state Convention to update Study and Action. The revision should, whenever possible, be completed by early fall of the Convention year.