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From late spring through the period leading up to the August recess, Congress had a busy legislative session. The LWVUS Advocacy staff continued to implement and defend the Democracy Agenda, along with the other priorities set by the LWVUS Board.

We achieved the goal of reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act (VRA) before the congressional recess in August. This victory was the result of tremendous League activity, throughout the country and on the Hill, in support of the bicameral bill to renew the VRA, "The Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006," H.R. 9 and S. 2703. On July 13, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 9, 390-33. All amendments were defeated, thwarting efforts by some to weaken the VRA. The Senate quickly followed suit, passing S. 2703 unanimously, 98-0, on July 20. This success was celebrated by the large and diverse coalition of groups who worked for more than a year to reauthorize the VRA. League members can be proud of the extraordinary contribution of our local, state and national Leagues as we advocated together for the renewal of the landmark civil rights law.

In campaign finance reform, the LWVUS and coalition partners were successful in defeating a bill that would have returned corrupting soft money to federal elections, H.R. 1606. Two competing bills were proposed that addressed the question of how the campaign finance laws apply to communications on the Internet. The League opposed H.R. 1606, the Hensarling bill, but supported the Bass-Allen bill, H.R. 4900, which protected both Internet activity and the campaign finance laws by codifying a regulation unanimously adopted by the FEC.

In the election reform arena, the LWVUS successfully opposed an attempt in the Senate to erect new barriers to voter participation. An amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 was introduced by Senator McConnell (R KY) that requires, by May 11, 2008, that all voters at polling places show federally mandated, REAL ID Act-compliant, photo identification prior to casting a ballot. In the end, the amendment was not attached to the Senate Immigration Bill.

We also urged the Senate to support the implementation and full funding of HAVA. In late May, then LWVUS President Kay Maxwell testified at a U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) public meeting on poll worker recruitment, training and retention. The LWVUS continues to consult with individual state and local Leagues on litigation challenging barriers to voting, including ID requirements, restrictions on the voter registration process, reduction of polling places and problems with statewide voter registration databases.

Throughout the spring, the LWVUS worked intensely on lobbying reform and ethics. We began by issuing Six Benchmarks for Lobbying Reform with reform coalition partners. When the House drafted a weak and ineffective lobby reform bill, H.R. 4975, the LWVUS opposed it and urged consideration of and support for strengthening amendments like the Shays-Meehan amendment to establish an Office of Public Integrity in Congress. In addition to LWVUS Lobby Corps visits, many local Leagues worked with the LWVUS to meet with important leaders in Congress on lobbying reform. At this writing, Congress has failed to pass meaningful lobbying reform.

The LWVUS continues work in the area of civil liberties with other concerned organizations regarding next steps on the NSA wiretapping issue. We continue to monitor legislative action on NSA wiretapping.

In addition to the Democracy Agenda, the Advocacy staff continues to monitor and address issues of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), DC rights and clean air as resources permit. The existing prohibition on oil drilling in ANWR was threatened again in May with the House narrowly passing a bill to lift the ban, H.R. 5429. The Senate is not expected to take up a similar stand-alone bill.

Progress was made in the effort to pass a bill to provide citizens of the District of Columbia with voting representation in the House of Representatives. Thanks in part to the excellent in-district lobbying by a few state and local Leagues in cooperation with the LWVUS, the D.C. Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act of 2006, sponsored by Delegate Norton (D DC) and Representative Davis (R VA), H.R. 5388, was passed by the Government Reform Committee on May 18, and is now before the House Judiciary Committee. For the latest on this and other legislation, please visit the Take Action section of the LWVUS Web site.

In addition, the LWVUS was able to take some limited action on a few other pressing issues. In May, the LWVUS sent a letter to the U.S. Senate urging them to vote against S. 1955, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (HIMMA). In June, the LWVUS joined with other civil rights organizations in urging Senators to oppose the "Federal Marriage Amendment" (S.J. Res. 1), a radical proposal that would permanently write discrimination into the United States Constitution.

Several action alerts were issued during this period, and 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 p. 12. Also visit Take Action at and sign up for the Grassroots Lobby Corps to receive action alerts by e-mail.
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Title Annotation:LEAGUE MATTERS
Publication:National Voter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2006
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