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Advocacy.

In a climate of increasing partisanship and scandal in Washington, DC, the LWVUS Advocacy staff has been working to implement and defend the Democracy Agenda. The League Board recommitted to the Democracy Agenda this year, adding lobbying and ethics reform and the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act to the existing priorities. The ongoing priorities are election reform, campaign finance reform, redistricting and civil liberties. The LWVUS Lobby Corps visited the Hill on a number of these issues pending before Congress.

The scandal surrounding the fall of lobbyist Jack Abramoff and some members of Congress spurred an interest in lobbying and ethics reform on the Hill. The League has made a strong case on the need for fundamental change in the rules governing the relationship between Congress and lobbyists, especially with regard to campaign finance and the creation of an Office for Public Integrity. LWVUS also worked with other organizations in calling on congressional ethics committees to initiate investigations into potential violations of congressional ethics rules by Members of Congress. See Sounding Off in this Voter.

The LWVUS also joined in several amicus briefs to the Supreme Court on cases dealing with campaign finance issues, including Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC, which reconsiders whether "sham" issue ads can be constitutionally regulated; Avery v. State Farm, which questions whether the financing of judicial campaigns raises due process concerns; and Randall v. Sorrell, a case that reconsiders spending limits and contribution limits in the context of the Vermont law establishing both for state elections, and to which the LWVVT is a party to the case in support of the law.

The League urged the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to protect voters against measures that undermine participation. The League is concerned about implementation of the National Voter Registration Act in the states. The LWVUS also continues to work with state Leagues confronting discriminatory voter ID legislation. See article on "new barriers" on p. 7.

The LWVUS continues to help coordinate the involvement of Leagues throughout the country on the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Several Leagues have hosted and participated in training and public events on this landmark legislation. Although Sections 5 and 203 of the VRA are not set to expire until 2007, the LWVUS is working with VRA coalition partners to urge Congress to reauthorize the VRA this year. Please contact LWVUS Grassroots Lobbyist Angela Canterbury to learn how your League can get involved (acanterbury@lwv.org). See VRA article on p. 10.

The League followed the release of "The Shape of Representative Democracy," a report discussing redistricting reform principles, with a recent conference on putting the principles into action around the country. The League, the Campaign Legal Center and the Council for Excellence in Government sponsored the conference that brought together policy experts and state activists, including League leaders from key states.

Also on redistricting, the LWVUS joined with the LWVTX in an amicus brief in the case of LULAC v. Perry, calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the partisan gerrymander imposed on the citizens of Texas in 2003. The League argued that the Texas legislature's mid-census redistricting was unconstitutional because it was carried out solely to achieve partisan advantage. The law firm of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP prepared the brief on behalf of the League.

Along with other concerned organizations, the League insisted that Congress make needed changes in the USA PATRIOT Act and continue to work on improving the Act past its scheduled expiration date. Responding to this grassroots pressure, the House and Senate leadership delayed action until a bill was finally agreed on in March 2006. While the final bill that passed did not address many of our concerns about civil liberties, there was limited improvement in some of the critical provisions.

In addition to the Democracy Agenda, the LWVUS Advocacy staff continues to monitor and address the issues of Clean Air, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), and DC Rights where resources permit. The LWVUS issued an action alert when the existing prohibition on oil drilling in ANWR was threatened in the budget process. In defense of clean air, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency heard from the League in opposition to proposed changes to the toxic release inventory and the standards for particulate matter. The LWVUS continued to work with Leagues to garner support for the DC FAIR Act, which would provide representation in the House of Representatives for citizens of the District of Columbia.

The League's growing legion of online activists, the Grassroots Lobby Corps, continue to send thousands of personal e-mail messages and make phone calls to Congress on our important legislative issues. Help the League increase its impact by telling your friends and family that it's easy to take action with the League. Forward the next action alert you receive to them with a personal note asking them to sign up to receive free action alerts by e-mail.

To learn more about how you can take action on the League's priority issues, please see Hill Bulletin on page 12. Also visit Take Action at www.lwv.org and sign up for the Grassroots Lobby Corps to receive action alerts by e-mail.

The League's Diversity Policy (reaffirmed in January 2003): The LWVUS/LWVEF, in both its values and practices, affirms its belief and commitment to diversity and pluralism, which means there shall be no barriers to participation in any activity of the LWVUS/LWVEF on the basis of gender, race, creed, age, sexual orientation, national origin or disability. The LWVUS/LWVEF recognizes that diverse perspectives are important and necessary for responsible and representative decision-making. The LWVUS/LWVEF subscribes to the belief that diversity and pluralism are fundamental to the values it upholds and that this inclusiveness enhances the organization's ability to respond more effectively to changing conditions and needs. The LWVUS/LWVEF affirms its commitment to reflecting the diversity of the country in its board, staff and programs.
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Title Annotation:League of Women Voters
Publication:National Voter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2006
Words:994
Previous Article:Education fund.
Next Article:Roadmap to membership growth.
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