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Hill Bulletin.

In January, the LWVUS Board adopted the League's legislative priorities for the second session of the 108th Congress: Election Reform and Campaign Finance Reform. The Board agreed to "respond with appropriate action" on the following crucial issues: Civil Liberties, Clean Air and Reproductive Choice. In its third category, the League will, when possible, "take advantage of lobbying opportunities to achieve longer-term success" on DC Voting Rights, Gun Control, Health Care and Tax/Deficit Policy.

ELECTION REFORM

Early in 2004, Congress did finally pass the FY '04 appropriation for election reform, bringing the total funding to authorized levels. However, they left the allocation to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) well below what is needed. The budget resolution that will govern the appropriations process for FY '05 provides much less than authorized levels for election reform. Nonetheless, the LWV and its coalition partners are pushing ahead for full funding.

What You Can Do:

Contact your Senators today and urge them to support full funding for HAVA in FY '05 so that the EAC can do its work, and state and local governments can continue the required implementation of HAVA.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russell Feingold (D-WI) and Representatives Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Martin Meehan (D-MA) have introduced their legislation to reform the public financing system for presidential elections. Key elements of the bill are those that require a candidate to participate or opt out of public financing for the primaries and general election together, rather than being able to pick and choose, and those that provide additional funding and higher spending limits for the program. The League's Lobby Corps is seeking cosponsors in the Senate. While final legislative action is not expected this year, a strong base needs to be built for action after the 2004 election. See the articles in this issue of the Voter on presidential public financing (p. 9) and early returns on how the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) is being implemented (p. 6).

What You Can Do:

Urge your Senators and Representatives to support efforts to fix the presidential public financing system by cosponsoring S. 1913 and H.R.3617.

CIVIL LIBERTIES

The League strongly believes that basic civil liberties must be preserved and protected as the nation seeks to guard against terrorism and other threats to national security.

In February, the LWVUS Lobby Corps visited Senate offices urging Senators to cosponsor the Security and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) Acts (S.1709 and H.R.3352). The SAFE Act addresses some of the most problematic provisions of the Patriot Act, including limiting "sneak and peek" warrants, requiring evidence that a suspect is a spy or foreign agent before business records may be searched, and creating new sunset provisions for specific aspects of the Patriot Act. The SAFE Act has strong bipartisan support from members of Congress. The lead Senate sponsors of S.1709 are Larry Craig (R-ID) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).

The League also supports the Freedom to Read Protection Act, H.R.1157, sponsored by Representative Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and S.1158, the Library and Bookseller Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), which would ensure that libraries and bookstores are protected under the regular system of court-ordered warrants.

What You Can Do:

Contact your Senators and Representatives and urge them to support the SAFE Act, S.1709 and H.R.3352.

CLEAN AIR

Senate Energy Committee Chair Pete Domenici (R-NM) has tried several times to resurrect the energy bill that was blocked in the Senate late last year. That bill relaxed clean air safeguards, worsened global warming and did little to achieve energy conservation, but it was the high-cost of pork-barrel items and a liability limitation for MTBE, a chemical additive for gasoline that has been leeching into New England water supplies, that sidetracked the legislation. Domenici has tried reducing the pork and dropping the MTBE provisions, which are strongly supported by House Majority Leader Delay (R-TX), but has not yet been able to get the votes for moving ahead this year.

For over 30 years, the Clean Air Act has effectively improved public health and protected the environment. But, according to a 2002 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, more than 130 million Americans still live in areas that violate clean air safeguards. The energy bill will delay relief to those still living with dirty air and will compromise the health of the elderly, people with lung disorders and children.

The Clean Air Act created air quality classifications for metropolitan areas with associated deadlines for improving air quality. If an area is unable to meet the deadline, it is reclassified to the next higher level and is required to adopt stricter pollution controls associated with the higher pollution classification. For the last few years, the EPA has provided extensions to those areas that were unable to meet the deadlines without requiring them to reclassify to the higher pollution level. In three instances, federal courts ruled that this practice violates the Clean Air Act. Now, language has been incorporated into the energy bill to authorize and expand the EPA's illegal extension practices.

The Energy Policy Act also fails to take affirmative steps to curb global warming and, in fact, will dramatically increase air pollution and global warming through huge new incentives for burning coal, oil and gas.

Finally, the Energy Policy Act fails to provide for real energy conservation--the key element for any good energy policy. Significant energy conservation is vital if we are to make the necessary steps to reduce our nation's dependence on coal, oil and gas.

What You Can Do:

Contact your Senators and urge them to block the Energy Policy Act from becoming law. Tell them the bill undermines existing environmental protections under the Clean Air Act, makes global warming worse and does not provide for needed energy conservation measures.

REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE

The Child Custody Protection Act (S.851/H.R.1755) makes it a crime for any adult, other than a parent or legal guardian, to take a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion. The League opposes this bill because it impedes the right to privacy of young women to obtain abortion services. Most minors do involve at least one parent in their decision to seek an abortion. The Child Custody Protection Act will prevent other teens from turning to a trusted adult, including an older sibling, grandparent or religious counselor. Without this support, there is the ever-present danger that minors could opt for illegal abortions.

What You Can Do:

Urge your members of Congress to protect young women from endangering their health and provide them the right to privacy by opposing S.851 and H.R.1755

DC VOTING RIGHTS

After the planned introduction of his own legislation this spring to give voting representation in the House of Representatives to the citizens of the District of Columbia, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) is expected to hold a hearing on the four bills that would provide some measure of congressional voting representation. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has authored a bill, supported by the League, which would provide full representation in the Senate and House by statute. Rep. Regula (R-OH) has a retrocession bill that would return DC to the state of Maryland. Rep. Rohrbacher (R-CA) has a bill that would provide voting representation for DC residents as part of Maryland, but which would maintain DC as a separate political jurisdiction for other purposes. Finally, Rep. Davis's bill would provide voting representation in the House by statute, and, to achieve political balance, would increase the size of the House by two so that the second new seat would go to Utah.

What You Can Do:

Urge your Senators and Representative to support S.617 and H.R.1285 for full representation for the citizens of the District of Columbia.

To reach your Senators and Representatives, go to www.lwv.org.

* Click on "Get Involved" on the right hand side of the home page.

* Click on "Find your Representative" on the left hand side of the page.

* Enter your zip code under "ELECTED OFFICIALS," select "Congress," and click on "GO."

RELATED ARTICLE: Grassroots Lobby Corps

Stay informed! Take action! Join the Grassroots Lobby Corps! The Grassroots Lobby Corps is the League's e-mail alert network designed to generate action around important legislative issues. It acts as a rapid-response team to get the League's message to Congress quickly. As a subscriber, you will receive e-mail LWVUS lobby requests for quick, targeted and sometimes last-minute lobbying on priority issues before critical congressional votes. Our strength lies in our numbers. We encourage you to ask friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to join with you as online activists with the League.

To subscribe, go to www.lwv.org. Click on "Get Involved" to the right of your screen. Then click on "Use Your Voice! Sign Up to Receive Action Alerts" in the "Action Alerts" box. You will receive a confirmation message after completing the form. Or go directly to www.capwiz.com/lwv/mlm/.
COPYRIGHT 2004 League of Women Voters
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Article Details
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Author:Ponomareff, Shirley Tabata
Publication:National Voter
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Words:1502
Previous Article:Meet the Education Fund team.
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