Nearly 120 League members and friends attended LWV WI’s State Issues Briefing on October 28 at Madison College. Here are some resources from the day of presentations and small group sessions:
Keynote Speaker Glorily López on Current Issues on Immigration. Immigration attorney Glorily López discussed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Signed by President Obama in 2014 in an Executive Action, DACA offers a limited legal pathway to obtaining a green card. It applies to previously unauthorized young people brought to the United States as children, who have grown up here, adapted to our cultural norms and the English language, and shown character and academic preparation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions suspended DACA in September. When it lapses, an estimated 6,914 young people will lose their DACA status every week. The Dream Act, League-supported legislation that has been introduced ten times over the past 16 years, is a bipartisan bill that would allow conditional resident status for eight years. López recommended the following websites for additional information: Here are the slides for this presentation.
Enhancing League Diversity through Strategic Alliances. An attentive group of Leaguers gathered for a breakout session presented by State Board member Consuelo López Springfield, LWV Dane County about the importance of why and how local Leagues might establish strategic alliances with the Latinx community. Board President Debra Cronmiller, LWV Dane County, provided context for this effort, stating that League diversity is a key component of the current LWV US transformation initiative. In light of Wisconsin’s changing demographics, López Springfield emphasized that if the League is to remain relevant, we must better serve and reflect the state’s growing population of eligible Latinx voters. She showcased diversity and community alliance work by several participating local Leagues. Membership and Event Coordinator Ellen Penwell then led attendees in brainstorming programming ideas for possible implementation in the coming months. Here are the slides for this presentation.
Update on Wisconsin Gerrymandering Lawsuit. Robert Yablon, who teaches Civil Procedure, Federal Jurisdiction and the Law of Democracy at UW-Madison, updated League members about the status of the Wisconsin redistricting case. He played clips of the oral arguments, which took place in early October, and helped the audience interpret some of the Justices’ questions and the answers given by the attorneys representing the two sides. He saw reason to be cautiously optimistic that there will be a positive ruling in the case, but predicted that such a ruling would end only the most extreme forms of partisan gerrymandering. While the justices could wait until the court session ends on June 30 to rule in the case, Yablon predicted that they might do so as early as February. Here are Yablon’s presentation slides.
Poverty and Public Policy in Wisconsin. Professor Lonnie Berger, Director of the Institute for Research and Poverty (IRP) at UW-Madison, discussed the importance of measuring poverty and the challenges inherent in doing so. He stressed that we need a way to measure poverty in order to know the extent of the problem and the progress that we are making to address it. It also is important to have consistent standards for determining eligibility to qualify for social programs. That said, there are different approaches to measuring poverty. The IRP has set a rigorous standard that is recognized widely in the field. Here are Berger’s presentation slides.
League Transformation: Preparing the League for its Second Century. LWV WI Board President Debra Cronmiller led a packed room in a breakout session about the League’s organizational “transformation.” The national League began this initiative in 2016 to analyze its role with championing good government and voter rights. Cronmiller asked attendees to consider what impact League can have at all levels of government and what that looks like. She challenged them to find opportunities for improvement in areas of election reform, membership diversity and leadership development for our next generation of Leaguers. Cronmiller stated that the power of League work comes from the grassroots and that League needs to find strength from a shared vision and voice. Here are Cronmiller’s presentation slides.
Voter Services: Projects for the 2018 Elections. Approximately 30 energized people attended a voter services breakout session in which members with experience in voter services and those new to voter registration and voter education outreach participated in robust discussions. Outgoing LWV WI Voter Education Coordinator Erin Grunze facilitated the session. Eileen Newcomer, incoming Voter Education Coordinator, also attended and joined the small group discussions. Attendees were asked to catalog and discuss challenges citizens face with the Wisconsin voting process and list ways in which local Leagues are addressing these challenges. Participants exchanged many innovative ideas, clarified some misconceptions with current voting laws and inspired each other to try new activities and events.
Q & A for New Members and New Leagues. After introductions and a warm welcome, Executive Director Andrea Kaminski and Membership and Events Coordinator Ellen Penwell responded to questions posed by those new to League. How to fit in as an individual member where there is no local League? How to focus local activities for a new League, even when everyone agrees there are many issues needing resolution? What resources are available to assure we accomplish our goals? As the session closed, the group left knowing League’s mission, the difference between decisions based on consensus v. majority vote and what it means to be grassroots and non-partisan. Attendees understood that LWV WI is poised to facilitate their local and statewide issues in a non-partisan, civil manner.
Water in Wisconsin: Reflections for Water Governance. Rebecca Power, with University of Wisconsin Environmental Resources Center, spoke about current issues related to water quality and quantity in the state, including threats to the Public Trust Doctrine in our state constitution and phosphorus pollution. She said that good governance ensures that those affected by the rules governing shared resources, such as water, are able to participate in any modification of the rules. Public input is critical. She also said there should be sanctions for those who violate the rules, as well as accessible, low-cost means for resolving disputes. See Rebecca Power’s presentation slides.