LWV_logo100.jpgLEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF MARYLAND, INC.

111 Cathedral, Suite 201, Annapolis MD 21401

Tel. 410-269-0232 and fax (call first)

 

E-mail: info@lwvmd.org                                                             Online: www.lwvmd.org

Co-Presidents: Barbara Schnackenberg and Nancy Soreng      www.facebook.lwvmd

Editor:  Jane Hardy                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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STATE BOARD LETTER

Mid-August 2015

Calendar

 

August

21 – Friday, LWVMD Voter deadline

26 – Wednesday, Women’s Equality Day

 

September

3 – Thursday, LWVMD Board Meeting 10 a.m. Wilde Lake

4 – Friday, LWVNCA Board meeting

7 – Monday, Labor Day – LWVMD office closed

8 – Tuesday, State Board Letter Deadline

17 – Thursday, Constitution Day event, 12 p.m.  Baltimore

22 – Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day

24 – Thursday, Local League legislative priority recommendations due

26 – Saturday, Fall Workshop 10 a.m. Wilde Lake. Topics: LWVUS Campaign Finance Study, LWVUS Constitutional Amendment Study. Google Docs presentation at lunch

 

Note: please see revised 2015-2016 LWVMD Calendar at the end of this SBL as well as four flyers for upcoming events!

 

 

WEB NEWS!

 

The board-appointed Web Committee charged with rolling out a new platform for the League's website has made significant progress!  NationBuilder, which was demonstrated at convention, has been selected as the new platform.  A new site has been created and is in the testing mode.  Over the next several months trainings will be offered in several locations to get local Web volunteers up to speed.  We will run the new and old sites in parallel in order to give everyone ample time to make the transition.  Stay tuned!

 

                                                                        Richard Willson, LWVMD Webmaster

 

Presidents’ Message                

 We had our first meeting as a Board on June 4.  We are really excited about the wonderful group of people that will be working with us on behalf of your state League.

 

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Back Row:  Carolyn Hetterick, Ralph Watkins, Betty Harries, John Perryman, Andrea Gruhl, Richard Willson

Front Row: Barbara Schnackenberg, Nancy Soreng, Betsy Singer, Elaine Apter, JoAnn Ross, Ruth Crystal, Melanie Cox and Jane Hardy.  Not pictured: Betsy Grater

 Our new League year promises to be a busy and productive one.  We will be responding to two National LWV studies.  Responses to the consensus questions on the Constitutional Amendment study are due to LWVUS on December 1, 2015; the responses to the questions on the Money in Politics Study are due to LWVUS on February 1, 2016.  We will provide guidance on these topics at our fall workshop at the end of September. In addition we adopted three state studies at our convention in Annapolis at the end of May.   LWVMD Program Director JoAnn Ross has an article elsewhere in this issue about these topics.  

We are aware that we need to find new sources of funding.  One of our board members is getting started on this to meet our immediate needs, but we are also looking to establish a statewide committee under the direction of a state board member to work on this on an ongoing basis. While that effort is underway, we are sponsoring an opportunity to see the Arena Stage production of Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End. The funds we have on hand, or those that come in from efforts underway, will go a long way toward purchasing VOTE 411 for 2016.  We are also developing a project to increase voter turnout in low-voting precincts.  This was the subject of the project plan we developed along with JoAnn Ross at National Council last June.

While we are busy with these, we will also be getting accustomed to our new website, sponsoring a course on Membership and Leadership Development in October, developing our legislative priorities for the 2016 session of the General Assembly, and training to provide election information on Vote 411 for next year’s presidential race as well as the race for the senate seat being relinquished by Senator Barbara Mikulski.  Nancy and I are grateful to have such ambitious and hardworking state and local League Board members to pull this all off. 

Thank you for giving us this opportunity to work with you on all of our efforts.  If we have omitted anything you think we need to be doing, let us know.

Barbara Schnackenberg and Nancy Soreng

 

LWVMD Board Highlights, August 3

 

·         Approved a proposal to seek funding for a research project examining voter turnout. The board will also be seeking a volunteer to chair a financial development committee in order to pursue other avenues for fundraising.

·         Approved the use of Stripe for online financial transactions such as event registration, donations, etc., to replace PayPal, since Stripe has a better pricing schedule and integrates very well with NationBuilder, our new website provider.

LWVMD-Education Fund Board Highlights, August 3

·         Approved writing a letter asking the State Board of Elections to adopt a vigorous audit plan and pursue ways in which the voter could read the barcode that contains their selections so they could review their choices, if requested.

·         Approved renewal of membership to Maryland Association of Nonprofit organizations.

 

Crowd Gathers to Support Redistricting Reform in Maryland

 Recipe.jpgThe League of Women Voters of Maryland and other members of the Tame the Gerrymander coalition hosted the third annual event observing Elbridge Gerry’s birthday on July 16th.  They served cake and ice cream in front of the State Capitol at Lawyers Mall.  Gerry, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who later served as governor of Massachusetts, is the namesake of gerrymandering, the drawing of legislative and congressional districts for political gain.

The mood this year was especially festive, with Ralph Watkins sharing his recipe for “Gerrymander Cake, An Old Maryland Favorite”.  You can read the recipe (attached to this SBL) and see a video of the event on our website: http://www.lwvmd.org/n/node/11408

Governor Hogan has publicly called for a new process for Maryland, noting in his state of the state address last February, “Gerrymandering is a form of political gamesmanship that stifles real political debate and deprives citizens of meaningful choices.”  His Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford attended the event. 

The League of Women Voters has undertaken a number of initiatives to promote reform of the way election districts are drawn and approved in Maryland.  The next issue of the Maryland Voter will provide an in depth look at was has been done towards this end as well as future plans.  

Nancy Soreng


League of Women Voters of Maryland Holds Convention in Annapolis

co-presidents.jpgLeague members from around the state gathered at the O’Callaghan Annapolis Hotel from May 29-31 to approve studies, adopt a budget and elect a board of directors.  They also celebrated the 95th Birthday of the League of Women Voters of Maryland and the League of Women Voters of the United States.  The keynote speaker at the Birthday banquet was Congressman John Sarbanes, who described legislation on Public Campaign Finance that he has introduced in the House of Representatives.  A Birthday Book containing tidbits of history on the founding of LWVMD and each local League was provided to the attendees. It can be seen on our website at: lwvmd.org

In addition to the studies that were adopted, which are described on page 6 in this State Board Letter, two of our existing positions were updated.  The position on redistricting was streamlined to make it possible to support a variety of models for creating an independent redistricting commission, while maintaining our support for a state redistricting process and standards that promote fair and effective representation in the state legislature and U.S. House of Representatives with maximum opportunity for public scrutiny. We revised our position that supported a bipartisan commission to say that we support a commission that is multi-partisan, including unaffiliated voters.   In 2014, we had adopted a position supporting the option to use instant run-off voting for special elections to fill vacancies in county offices.  Delegates at convention expanded that option to include special elections to fill vacancies in state offices as well.

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Representatives from the Maryland State Board of Elections demonstrated the new voting equipment that will be used in the upcoming primary and general elections.All who witnessed the demonstration agreed that this was going to be a big change for voters.  In order to minimize the potential confusion at the polling places, Leagues around the state will be called upon to assist their local Boards of Election with voter education about the new system.  You will be hearing more about this at a later date.

All who attended agreed that the Anne Arundel League of Women Voters, who hosted the event, did a wonderful job.  The weekend was informative, productive and fun!

 

 

 

Nancy Soreng

 

Legislative Priorities Season Is Here Again

 The General Assembly convenes again on January 13, 2016.  This time last year he members of the current General Assembly had not yet been elected.  This year some committees have already been meeting and others will begin again in September.  You can find these meetings on the General Assembly website under the “Committees” tab on the home page.  One committee that has been meeting this summer is the Public Safety and Policing Workgroup, which is relevant to our state study on community policing.  The next meeting of that committee is August 24, 2015, in the Joint Hearing Room in the Legislative Services Building at 90 State Circle.  

Whatever comes out of these intersession committee meetings, we need to be ready with our own legislative ideas and establish our priorities.  In order to be sure that all local Leagues participate in the process of setting our priorities, we ask that the first round of suggestions be submitted to me by Thursday, September 24, 2015.  Once we have this first round of suggestions, we will compile them and send them back to the local Leagues by October 1, so that they may have the opportunity to see what everyone has suggested and, if they choose, revise their final list of suggested legislative priorities. Any changes to your priorities should be submitted to me by October 31.  When the second round of suggestions is compiled, the State Board will adopt our statewide priorities at our November board meeting and publish a leaflet of our priorities for us to use with our legislators in their home districts or in Annapolis.

What Topics Should Local Leagues Consider?

Your suggestions may be on any topic on which we have a national or state consensus.  Our national consensus positions are provided on the LWVUS website and state consensus positions may be found in a document titled “Study and Action,” which may be found on the LWVMD website.  If we do not have a national or state consensus on a topic of great interest to League members, they may suggest that the topic be studied when we consider program planning as we do each January.  League members who have questions about our consensus positions may contact me.

For specific suggestions, please review our legislative priorities for 2015.  For example, we have continued to push for redistricting legislation and to publicize our “gerrymandered” state.  Consult the Maryland General Assembly website at http://www.mgaleg.maryland.gov.  At the bottom of the home page, you will find a box titled “Highlighted,” i.e., “The 90 Day Report,” which provides a summary of legislation that passed and failed in the 2015 session.  These may provide some suggestions for your consideration, especially among ideas that failed but we may want to raise again. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at ruth@cramercrystal.com.         

 

                                                                                            Ruth Crystal

Are you interested in making a valuable contribution to LWVMD?

 

The State Study Process Has Begun and You Are Invited To Join One Of The Committees Now!

 1.    Study of the Primary System employed to select candidates for elected office in the state of Maryland.  This will be a two-year study that will incorporate the study carried out by the state of Washington. The study co-chairs are Barbara Sanders, LWV Montgomery County, and Lu Pierson, LWV Baltimore City.

2.    Study of Developmental Rights and Responsibilities Agreements (DRRAs) in the state of Maryland.  This will be a study leading to consensus with aid of LWV Frederick County members who recently completed the study for their county.   The study chair is Margaret Hindman, LWV Frederick, who has submitted the following description: 

This study will focus on a little-known but important land-planning tool: the 1995 state law authorizing local governments and land developers to enter into DRRAs (Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreements). We will consider how this legislation has been applied and whether it should be revised, among other issues.  DRRAs allow local government to “freeze” county land management laws for a length of time, in exchange for infrastructure contributions, agreed upon by the county and the developer. These agreements provide an alternative to Maryland's longstanding practice of vesting a developer's rights only when the project is underway (foundations visible above ground); prior to that point, the local government can change zoning as well as land-use regulations. In some jurisdictions, DRRAs have been used strategically to secure public infrastructure contributions for high-densitydevelopments that are significantly greater than would otherwise be required of a developer. In other jurisdictions (Frederick County, in particular), DRRAs: have been approved for low-density, greenfield development; guarantee that zoning and regulations will not change for up to 25 years; and require infrastructure contributions that are not significantly greater than would otherwise be required.

3.    Study of Police and Community Relations.  The study will include a review of current state laws that affect police-community relations and the ability to hold police accountable for their interactions with all members of the community.  Specifically this could include the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR. Maryland law and practices would be compared with those of other states.  The study chair is Lois Hybl, LWV Baltimore City.

Please indicate your interest in joining one of the state study committees by emailing directly to the appropriate study chair. (Not the state League office.)  Be sure to include the name of your local League in your correspondence.

Study of the Primary System in Maryland – respond to both study co-chairs:

Barbara Sanders              Email:  bsanders@terpalum.umd.edu

Lu Pierson                      Email:  lu.pierson@verizon.net

Study of Developmental Rights and Responsibilities – respond to study chair:

 Margaret Hindman          Email: margarethindman@comcast.net

 Study of Police and Community Relations respond to study chair:

 Lois Hybl                        Email:  lhybl@verizon.net

                                                                                             JoAnn Ross



LWVMD Forms Development Committee

 At our August Board meeting it was decided that it’s high time LWVMD have a strategic plan for sustained funding.  You, our members, have been extremely generous in your support and we couldn’t survive without you.  However, if we want to do more than survive, we are going to need to look for funding sources beyond our traditional fundraising appeals and events.  Please consider volunteering to help with this effort.  My hope is that the results will not only strengthen the state League but will enable us to better support local Leagues as well.  Contact pres@lwvmd.org if you are interested or just want to learn more before making a commitment.

                                                                                      Nancy Soreng

 

“Love and Death on the Supreme Court”

Constitution Day Program, September 17

If you relish intellectual stimulation, facts and wittiness, the place to be at noon on Thursday, September 17, is the University of Maryland Carey School of Law’s elegant Ceremonial Court Room.  The League of Women Voters of Maryland, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the law school are co-sponsoring their collaborative 9th Annual Constitution Day Program.  The topic for this year’s panel program is “Love and Death on the Supreme Court.”  Panelists will examine two prominent cases before the Supreme Court this year. The court’s decision on same-sex marriage was a victory for liberals and the other court decision on use of a particular medicine in death penalty executions was a victory for conservatives.  Widely published UMD law professors Richard Boldt, Martha Ertman and Mark Graber will passionately and eruditely give riveting articulation of cogent points in these two cases. After their presentations Professor Max Stearns will moderate a Question and Answer session.  Faint with information absorption afterwards, you will need to revive at the in the atrium beside the Ceremonial Court Room.

Leaguers and their guests are welcome to attend.  The event is free, but RSVPs are required by September 15. Please see details on the enclosed flyer to respond.

About our panelists:

Richard Boldt has been a faculty member at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law since 1989.  He teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, criminal law, mental disability law and torts. Boldt received an A.B. summa cum laude from Columbia College. He obtained his law degree from Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law and Policy Review. Professor Boldt served as associate dean at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law from 2002 to 2006. 

Martha Ertman is a Carole & Hanan Sibel Research Professor at the University of Maryland Carey Law School.  She teaches contracts, commercial law and contract drafting, and has written and spoken widely about the many ways people form intimate connections and the reach of contract into families and human bodies.  Her new book, Love’s Promises: How Formal & Informal Contracts Shape All Kinds of Families, reaches out to a broad audience by blending a memoir of three gay parents raising their son with stories about other families she dubs “Plan B” – created through reproductive technology, adoption and cohabitation.

Mark A. Graber is the Jacob A. France Professor of Constitutionalism at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law.  He received an A.B. from Dartmouth College, a J.D. from Columbia Law School and a PhD. in political science from Yale University.  Once the associate dean of research at the law school, Professor Graber is the author or editor of many books, most recently The Oxford Handbook of the U.S. Constitution, and many articles on American constitutional law, history, politics and theory.

Andrea Morris Gruhl and Maxwell Stearns, J.D.


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Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing election district lines (such as for Congress or a state legislature) to give an artificial advantage to one party.  The following “recipe” is intended to illustrate (and make fun of) this practice.

 

GERRYMANDER CAKE

An Old Maryland Favorite1

 1 census map                                                  

 4 cups Democratic voters

 4 cups Republican voters                               

 2 cups unaffiliated voters

 Regional adjustment: In a Republican-dominated state, use up to 5 firmly packed cups of Democrats; in a Democratic-dominated state, use up to 5 firmly packed cups of Republicans.

 2 eggs, well beaten

 1 teaspoon baking powder - or ¼ teaspoon of political ambition may be substituted – experience has shown a little goes a long way.

 ½ cup melted shortening (shortchanging of incumbents may be substituted, but the cake may become bitter)

 ½ cup milk

 1 teaspoon artificial vanilla or other artificial flavoring - even artificial “reform” has been used!

 

Beat firmly until public interest subsides.  Then add 1 map of election returns.

 Pour beaten mixture into a baking dish carefully marked to show the locations of the homes of incumbents office holders.

 Bake in a closed room* until immediately before the legislative session - or until an opinion poll can be inserted and removed cleanly.

 *Note: For most reliable results, the room should be filled with loyal party leaders.  Adding independent members may produce unpredictable results.

             Caution: Do not expose to sunlight while baking - this may ruin your cake!

 Refrigerate for at least 4 hours if your party has only recently gained a majority – in this situation, Gerrymander cake, like revenge, is a dish best served cold.

 Cut into irregular slices.  Serves 8 million voters - poorly.

 1 This is the traditional Maryland recipe. Other states have similar recipes, which may be adapted for use.

 

 CALENDAR

 LWVMD 2015-2016

 August 2015

 14 – Friday, LWVNCA Board meeting 10:30 a.m., LWVUS Board Room

 21 – Friday, LWVMD Voter deadline

 26 – Wednesday, Women’s Equality Day

 September

 3 – Thursday, LWVMD Board meeting 10 a.m. Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 7 – Monday, Labor Day – LWVMD office closed

 8 – Tuesday, State Board Letter Deadline

 11 – Friday, LWVNCA Board meeting, 10:30 a.m. LWVUS Board Room

 17 – Thursday, Constitution Day Forum, 12 noon-1:30 p.m., Ceremonial Court Room, Univ. of MD Carey School of Law

 22 – Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day

 24 – Thursday, local League legislative priority recommendations due

 26 – Saturday, Fall Workshop, 10 a.m., Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 October

 5 – Monday, LWVMD Board meeting 10 a.m. Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 8 – Thursday, State Board Letter deadline

 9 – Friday, LWVNCA Board meeting & Presidents Lunch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., LWVUS Office

 11 – Sunday, Fall Fundraiser, Arena Stage, Irma Bombeck: At Wit’s End

 12 – Monday, Columbus Day – LWVMD office closed

 17 – Saturday, LWVMD MLD Workshop, Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 24 – Saturday, United Nations Day

 29 – Thursday, Final local League legislative priority recommendations due

 November

 3 – Tuesday, General Election Day, USA

 6 – Friday, LWVNCA Board meeting 10:30 a.m., LWVUS Board Room

 9 – Monday, LWVMD Board meeting 10 a.m. Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 11 – Wednesday, Veterans Day – LWVMD office closed

 12 – Thursday, State Board Letter Deadline

 13 – Friday, LWVMD Voter Deadline

 26-27 - Thursday-Friday, Thanksgiving – LWVMD office closed

 December

 1 – Tuesday, Consensus Reports due to LWVUS on Constitutional Amendments Study

 7 – Monday, LWVMD Board meeting 10 a.m. Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 4 – Friday, LWVNCA Board meeting 10:30 a.m., LWVUS Board Room

 10 - Thursday, State Board Letter deadline

 15 – Tuesday, Bill of Rights Day

 25-31 - Friday – Thursday, LWVMD office closed

 2016

 January

 1 – Friday, LWVMD office closed

 4 – Monday, LWVMD Board meeting 10 a.m., Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 7 – Thursday, State Board Letter deadline

 8 – Friday, LWVNCA Board meeting 10:30 a.m., LWVUS Board Room

 9 – Saturday, VOTE411 Workshop, Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 13 – Wednesday, General Assembly convenes

 18 - Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day – LWVMD office closed

 23 – Saturday, Winter Workshop 10 a.m. Wilde Lake, TBA

 30 - Saturday, Snow Date for Winter Workshop

 February

 1 – Monday, LWVMD Board meeting 10 a.m. Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 1 – Monday, Consensus Reports due to LWVUS on Money in Politics Study

 4 – Thursday, State Board Letter deadline

 5 – Friday, LWVNCA Board meeting 10:30 a.m., LWVUS Board Room

 14 - Sunday, League of Women Voters founded 1920 (96th Birthday)

 15 – Monday, Presidents Day – LWVMD office closed

 March

 3 – Thursday, Legislative Day in Annapolis

 4 – Friday, LWVNCA Board meeting, 10:30 a.m., LWVUS Board Room

 7 – Monday, LWVMD Board meeting 10 a.m., Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 10 – Thursday, State Board Letter deadline

 12 – VOTE411 goes live online

 13-19 – Sunshine Week (Open Government)

 April

 1 – Friday, LWVNCA Board meeting, 10:30 a.m., LWVUS Board Room

 4 – Monday, LWVMD Board meeting, 10 a.m., Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 5 – Friday, MD voter registration, party affiliation closes

 7 - Thursday, State Board Letter deadline

 11 – Monday, Sine Die - General Assembly adjourns

 14 – Thursday, Early Voting Begins

 18 – Monday, LWVMD Voter deadline

 21 – Thursday, Early Voting Ends

 21 – Thursday, LWVMD Lobby Day on Capitol Hill (tentative)

 22 – Friday, Earth Day

 26 – Tuesday, Primary Election Day

 30 – Friday, Spring Fundraising Event (TBD)

 May

 2 – Monday, LWVMD Board meeting, 10 a.m., Wilde Lake Interfaith Center

 5 – Thursday, State Board Letter deadline

 6 –MD election results certified

 6 – LWVNCA Board meeting, 10:30 a.m., LWVUS Board Room

 7 – Saturday, LWVNCA Convention, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Clyde’s at Gallery Place, DC

 21 – Saturday, LWVMD Council, Hood College, Frederick

 30 – Monday, Memorial Day – LWVMD office closed

 31 – MD deadline, statewide referenda petitions

 June

 3 – Friday, LWVNCA Board meeting, 10:30 a.m., LWVUS Board Room

 6 – Monday, LWVMD Board meeting – Retreat/Calendar planning 10 a.m., Wilde Lake

 16-18 - Thursday – Saturday, LWVUS Convention, Marriott-Wardman Park Hotel, DC

 

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