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Local Leagues in New Mexico


LWV State Board Meeting, Jan 20 2018, Socorro Public Library

Judy Williams called the meeting to order at 11:05.

Present: Judy Williams, Laura Atkins, Akkana Peck, Janet Blair, Kim Sorenson, Jan Strand, Suzanne Ronneau, Chris Furlanetto, Meredith Machen, Karen Douglas, Becky Shankland, Diane Goldfarb, Barbara Calef, Dick Mason.

The agenda was approved.

Review of last meeting's minutes: Janet Blair was there but wasn't listed in the attendance. 1st line of "reproductive rights" has some extra words. Barbara Calef moved to approve the minutes as amended; passed.

Advocacy workshop wrap-up: The workshop went well. Everyone agreed that Jim Jackson from Disability Rights New Mexico did well and that we should to invite him to future workshops.

Judith Binder will be resigning from the CNM league due to health issues.

Planned Parenthood has given us a gift of $5,000 for the Education fund, to be used for anything, not just reproductive rights. There was some discussion of possible uses, such as election activities, and of other organizations who might be potential donors.

The LWVNM Council will be 2018 May 19 in Albuquerque. The LWVUS national convention will take place in June in Chicago.

NM FOG Gubernatorial forum:

Peter St Cyr of the NM Foundation for Open Government says they plan to do a Gubernatorial forum, using a grant from Thornburg as part of Sunshine Week. The date would be Sunday Mar 11, at the beginning of Sunshine Week.

There was discussion of whether we want to be involved, along with Common Cause if we are not allowed to participate in the planning. It would follow League rules for forums, inviting both parties, and they'd like to have one question from LWVNM and one from Common Cause. They're also looking for volunteers to act as ushers and to maintain group areas in the audience (something we don't necessarily agree with). We could also provide timekeepers.

It's not clear whether there will be a live audience or whether it will be strictly a video event. There will be some questions from the public submitted in advance. Janet Blair suggested that we could solicit questions on our Facebook page.

Meredith Machen moved that we participate in this primary gubernatorial forum; passed. Williams will email Peter and Viki, and Janet, Diane and Judy want to meet with Peter to get more details about the event.

Treasurer's report (Suzanne Ronneau):

The news is good. Money has been distributed to local league education funds from the reproductive rights grants. We've written a few checks, for rent ($600/year) and for a copy of our articles of incorporation. We have $25k in the bank and more in the education fund. Even though interest rates are at rock bottom, Ronneau suggested putting some in a CD.

Judy Williams got an email from Donna Reynolds: the Santa Fe league is losing their office space, and they are trying to decide if they even need an office, and whether they should try to share with another organization. Would the state league be interested in sharing with SFC? It would probably cost $70-100/mo to share an office, and it would be a lot of work to change all the official listings for phone number and mailing address and so forth. Nobody saw a compelling benefit to the state league in moving the office to SF.

Action and Legislative Advocacy Report (Dick Mason):

Mason had already sent out the initial tracking sheet for this session, and gave an overview of some of the important bills we should track.

For transparency, SR1 and SR2 will need to be dealt with quickly, so it doesn't seem worth making them a League priority. HB98, the Local Elections Act, is back since the last pocket veto, and there's hope that it might get signed this time. HB16, Decriminalize Abortion, may not be germane in this short session. Several people wondered whether the decriminalization issue could be addressed with a lawsuit rather than legislation. The redistricting committee bill is likely to get "three committees", meaning it has no chance.

Mason suggested as priorities:

HB98: Local Election Act

HJR4: Independent Redistricting Commission

SJR5: Register All Qualified Voters

Decriminalize Abortion

Oppose SB49: Tax Reform

There are two different bills regarding education funding: HJR1 Land Grant Fund Distribution (for early childhood education) SJR2 Land Grant Funds for Education (for education generally) One is for early education, the other is increased funds for all education. There was discussion of whether we should support one, the other or both. Although everyone supported funding for education, we haven't supported bills in the past that specified taking education funds from specific sources.

Some people consider the permanent fund as something that should not be depleted and that should last for several generations -- it's a permanent fund, not a rainy-day fund, and needs to be around for our great-grandchildren. The fund is currently returning around 5.5%. Several members were opposed to both of the bills because they would remove too much from the permanent fund. The state constitution requires that the Permanent Fund never dip below $10 billion.

Barbara Calef moved that we should not support these two bills, because we shouldn't support raiding the permanent fund permanently. There was a spirited discussion of the issue, and a close vote that had to be recounted. The motion failed 6-7: LWVNM will support the

bills. Dick Mason moved that the five bills mentioned earlier be our priorities for this legislative session. Approved.

Mason explained Ranked Choice Voting:

You vote for all the candidates, in order of preference. If the winner doesn't get 50%, they take all the people who voted for the last place candidate and allocate their votes to their second choice.

Santa Fe will use Ranked Choice Voting for the first time this March. People have asked whether we should concur with some other state's position on ranked choice (or similar types of) voting. Barbara Calef suggested that someone write up a proposal and email it to the board, and that the board postpone any vote on the matter until after Santa Fe's first ranked choice vote to see how it goes.

The city of Santa Fe actually voted to use ranked choice ten years ago, but said the law should take effect only when the technology was there and there was money for the implementation. When the voting machines were finally ready last year, the city council tried to delay implementation; Fair Vote NM sued them, and the city reversed itself.

Legislative Reception:

Machen reported that arrangements were set for food and drink, with Diane Goldfarb and Andrea Targhetta as helpers, plus several other volunteers for sign-in, cleanup, and other jobs.

Nametags will be provided. Machen asked Becky Shankland about some "getting to know you" sheets she used to do, but Shankland said it hadn't worked out and she'd given up. Akkana Peck described technical conferences that provide optional colored ribbons representing interests; we could have colored markers or colored dots representing people's interests, like Education, Voting Rights or Reproductive Rights.

League Day at the Legislature:

Williams said she'd have a table, and she had volunteers to staff it.

Janet Blair proposed that we consider buying a "traveling dog and pony show" that unfolds and can be set up quickly for an impressive

display. It would cost about $2500; she can work up an estimate. Calef cautioned that there be no flashing lights. Dick Mason said he had something like that in his garage that he might be able to revive. There was discussion about other options.

Lobbyist registration (Meredith Machen):

Machen clarified the new rules for lobbyists: if lobbyists are compensated, they must turn in a "no activity" form even if they don't lobby. But if they're not paid, there's no charge to register. People who lobby regularly should register (for free), but do not need to submit activity reports, contrary to what we'd been told earlier.

Dick Mason stressed that occasional lobbyists shouldn't let these rules stop them from speaking.

Advocacy Committee at the legislature:

Mason said he'd send out information to the list of people who were active last year once the committee lists are ready.

Continuing the discussion of League Day after a lunch break, Dick Mason hoped that local leagues would provide people with guides at League Day to show them around the statehouse. Barbara Calef noted that LWVLA would be having a pre-League Day meeting Monday might.

Communications (Janet Blair):

Blair has a draft Communications Plan detailing intended audience and strategies and tactics for each group, as well as other goals for communication. She wanted an update on the plan for PSAs: how much money do we have available? Williams wasn't sure, but said she'd been trying to get an answer to that. We'll need a proposal for the next board meeting for how much money to spend on the PSAs.

Blair wanted to know whether PSAs should be specific to the ethics commission constitutional amendment, or should have more general information about registering and voting. She played a few examples of general voting PSAs from LWV Arizona. But the money from Common Cause is earmarked specifically for the ethics commission constitutional amendment, so our PSAs will need to address that.

New Mexico Broadcasters suggests a $15,000 as the minimum for developing and getting a 30-second PSA out to a wide audience. We should try to design any PSA so it doesn't rely on visuals, so the same audio could be used for radio as well as TV.

Williams wondered if there were any other funding sources we could use if we wanted to make a more general PSA that we could continue to use, if we couldn't get the Common Cause money. Perhaps banks might be willing to donate? Blair pointed out that the "Brought to you by..." line at the end might get long and unwieldy if there were too many sponsors, and it's not clear how much time we'd have to devote to the constitutional amendment. Another possibility is to separate the PSA into two parts, an evergreen "register and vote" part and a part about the amendment. Then we could cut out the 2018 parts and have a shorter evergreen PSA that we could distribute in subsequent years. But how much of the $15k is related to distributing the PSA and getting stations to run it? How much would it cost if we already had a 20-second evergreen PSA?

Barbara Calef moved that the board continue to pursue this, including the constitutional amendment, assuming Williams and Blair are satisfied with what they learn from Common Cause and the NM Broadcasters. Passed.

Williams mentioned she'd signed up for a listserv from the Center for Civic Progress on messaging and talking points.

Blair wanted feedback on La Palabra: is it readable and does it look okay? Everybody liked it. But some people were concerned that many members don't open the email and that that La Palabra wasn't being read as widely as we'd like.

Becky Shankland suggested that we occasionally print out copies and make them available for the talks at events, like the morning of League Day or the reception the night before. LWVLA sends out hardcopy of the newsletter once a year before the annual meeting, because they're aware that a lot of people are too busy to read through a PDF.

Website and document storage (Akkana Peck):

At Williams' request, Peck checked into upgraded service plans. The reason is that there might be funding for it. We're currently not paying anything for the website: it's donated by SWCP. For $15/month, possibly less, we could get "professional web hosting", but it's not clear that the advantages are worth it. The main things we'd get:

- ability to process credit cards

- ability to send out mass mailings with Mail Chimp

- possibility of sending out customized email alerts

- wikis

- forums

Mailing lists (discussion lists) would be nice since they could fix our problems with aliases like the board alias and lists like Action, but "professional web hosting" from SWCP wouldn't get us that. They charge $20 set-up and $5/month per list, and it's not clear that would get any cheaper with an upgraded account.

No one thought there was much need to process credit cards -- local leagues need that but the state doesn't -- and Williams said she liked the current Constant Contact service and wasn't interested in switching to Mail Chimp. No one was very interested in wikis or forums. So there's no reason to upgrade.

Voter Services (Diane Goldfarb):

Goldfarb wanted clarification on the information that was sent out about judicial review. Felicia Orth, an attorney and friend of LWVLA, had requested that the voter guides state whether the judicial candidates have been certified by the Judicail Nominating Commission (JNC).

Calef explained that the JNC reviews people who apply to be a judge, and decides whether they've met a very specific set of requirements.

Judges who are appointed by the governor must meet the JNC’s requirements; but then they subsequently have to run in a general election, where anyone can run and there's no requirement to be qualified by the commission.

The Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (JPEC) doesn't review judges until they've been on the bench at least 2 years.

Several of the people who are currently running for a judicial seat did not meet the qualifications, and Orth thought that should be made clear to the voters. Calef had told Orth that we don't do a Voter Guide for the primary, and all the judges running are Democrats, so the primary is the only election that matters.

Calef says that in LWVLA's Voter Guide, they put a link to the JPEC page.

A lot of voters don't know about the nominating commission, and we received $5k from Common Cause for educating voters about the judiciary, so should we try to educate people on this?

After some discussion, the conclusion was that candidates should mention in their statements that they're qualified, if they are, and if they don't mention it, that's their problem.


Program planning for LWVUS Convention (Chris Furlanetto):

We need to respond to an online LWVUS program planning questionnaire by March 1. Chris shared the draft responses she had prepared. The discussion focused on the following questions:

1) Do we support LWVUS' proposed program focus - Making Democracy Work? All agreed we do; we also agreed that it is unlikely that any other suggestions will be taken seriously.

2) On the checklist of national positions that we have used for advocacy at the state level in the 2018-2018 biennium, we agreed we've used four: Citizen's Right to Know/Citizen Participation; Public Policy on Reproductive Choices; Health Care; Immigration.

3) Additional comments: It was agreed that Chris should simply say 'LWVNM has found that our state positions are appropriate for most issues we advocate for.' One reason is that our state positions often pre-date national positions.

Chris said she would send out the link to the questionnaire and instructions to each local League so they can respond at the local level.

Study Updates:

Transfer of Federal Public Lands (Barbara):

The committee has met twice since the last state board meeting, and Barbara wrote two articles for the winter La Palabra. The committee interviewed the regional director of the BLM and reported on it, and Chris wrote a great article on Utah's land transfer. The committee also met with deputy and assistant land commissioners and the director of the BLM, and they plan to meet with the regional forester. They considered a forum with Heinrich and Pearce, but decided to interview them instead, and to interview several other people as well. There will be an article in the Spring La Palabra on the Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, and some of the shortcomings of the BLM.

Health Care (Akkana):

Dick, Judy, Chris and Akkana met on December 29th. They decided that a lot of the issues they'd like to address really are already covered by our current position; the wording just doesn't make that clear. They might be able to do some rephrasing of the current position to clarify some issues such as transparency and pharmaceutical pricing, and borrow some points from the national healthcare position on workforce.

Nuclear Waste Storage (Karen Douglas):

Douglas discussed activities that might be outside of the scope of the study, in particular public outreach, and wondered if they might need to expand the scope of the study.

Laura Atkins thought that one important thing to study was why these storage facilities are different from WIPP, and whether they're likely to leak. We need to be able to explain that to the public. That doesn't change the scope of the study, but it's important.

Douglas thought if they focused on the waste from commercial reactors, then the results are of interest to at least 37 other states.

Calef wondered about reprocessing, which was in the original study proposal, so it also doesn't expand the study's scope.

Douglas listed several meetings that have been scheduled.

On the primer: Douglas is discussing with Susan Pickering, a retired director from Sandia, a proposal for an outline for the revised primer. The price tag for the consultant is very high and Williams has been asking for explanations and justification for the overhead and management costs.

Williams wanted clarification on where the project stands now and what has changed. She said we have a lot of people who are willing to volunteer. There was discussion on what needed to be included in the proposal and what to do next.

Education issues (Meredith Machen):

Machen had sent out a document detailing what she sees as the primary education priorities. She asked everyone to read it and we can discuss the list later. There are lots of education issues coming up in the session, and she promised to send the details to the action committee to put on the tracking sheets.

Reproductive Rights (Diane Goldfarb):

The abortion decriminalization bill is a priority, of course.

Planning 100th anniversary activities : we need a planning committee, but the discussion was tabled due to lack of time.

Next board meeting: March 31, 10-2, at Santa Fe HEC.

Meeting adjourned at 3:05.