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Newsletter - November 18, 2021

LWVIN  | Published on 11/18/2021


JOIN AN LWVIN ADVOCACY COMMITTEE!

In the week when the Indiana General Assembly organizes itself for the 2022 short legislative session, it seems appropriate that we organize ourselves as well.

The League's basic purpose is to make democracy work for all citizens
. For the last century, that goal has taken two major, related efforts: voting services (voter registration and information) and voter education and advocacy. Voter education and advocacy rely on the study and self-education of generations of League members.

League policy positions and their history may be found in LWVUS Impact on Issues 2020-22 HERE. LWVIN positions may be found HERE.

To effectively make democracy work for all citizens, we must work above partisan politics. It bears repeating that the League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization; we neither support nor oppose candidates for office at any level of government. We do encourage informed and active participation in government (by members as well as other citizens). We work to increase understanding of major public issues, and to influence public policy through education and advocacy for policies to serve all citizens.

In this issue you will find a statement from each of the LWVIN advocates or teams explaining the relevant LWVIN position and the issues that they see on the horizon in this legislative session.

Please take advantage of this information and respond to each of the advocates with your name and email address if you are willing to work with them on the statewide advocacy team or to respond to their calls to action during the legislative session. CHOOSE YOUR PASSION!

Barb Schilling and Linda Hanson, LWVIN co-presidents



REDISTRICTING REFORM -- ADVOCACY FOR THE LONG HAUL
(Remember our history!)

Protecting the right of every citizen to vote is indivisibly part of the League’s basic purpose.LWVUS 1982:voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed.The LWVUS has drilled down into what makes democracy work—empowering voters and defending democracy.

Redistricting Reform has been our primary focus for advocacy over the last few years as we tried and exhausted our legislative options for the 2021 reapportionment of legislative districts to make every vote count. In 2013 the League of Women Voters of Indiana and Common Cause Indiana formed a nonpartisan coalition that has grown to nearly 30 organizations with a common goal: redistricting reform. See a quick overview of that advocacy history at our All IN for Democracy Coalition webpage: https://www.allinfordemocracy.org/the-basics/

Coalition buildingthrough All IN for Democracy enabled us to share messaging, to reach voters and communities we might not have reached alone, and thereby to increase public education and awareness. When legislative options for reform evaporated in face of reapportionment deadlines, All IN conducted a transparent process for citizen redistricting, modeling what the legislature should have been doing and enabling citizens to draw maps that were actually introduced by the super minority members of both the Indiana House and Senate as amendments to the supermajority maps.

Much of the work distributed across the state depends on our Local Leagues. A representative from each League serves on our LWVIN Redistricting Committee that will continue to meet to share ideas, strategies, and resources. Paulette Vandegriff, Vickie Dacey,and Meg Connollyhave worked not only locally and at the state level, but have been our links and advocates at the LWVUS level. See resources compiled from and for Indiana Local Leagues redistricting education and advocacy work HERE.

That public process and the momentum of expanded public awareness are launching the next phase of our advocacy for maps that enable every voter’s voice to be heard. Because redistricting impacts legislation about voting rights, education, allocation of resources, etc., we plan to keep fighting with the support of the mobilized public. Please volunteer for the effort! There is grant money available to local leagues to support redistricting programs and advocacy. Contact: Linda Hanson, lhanson43@gmail.com

In Indiana there are constitutional constraints on any but a legislative solution, so whether that solution is a constitutional amendment to remove map drawing from the legislature or a bill to create a citizens redistricting commission (to the same effect), we need to be visible and vocal in our support so that no single party can again gerrymander itself into a supermajority.

Our democracy is hanging by a thread. It will take all of us to stitch the pieces back together.

Please sign up for action alerts and/or volunteer to be an advocate on redistricting issues at the local, county, or state levels. Contact: Linda Hanson, lhanson43@gmail.com

For an overview of the redistricting issue, read this NYT article.

For a nuanced update, Listen to NPR’s 1A: The Maps Are In: The Redistricting Process And The Midterm Elections HERE.

Linda Hanson


The Calumet Local registering student voters at the IU Northwest campus
Voter Services Coordinating Committee (VSCC)

As a LWV member, your knowledge, talents and passion for democracy is needed to support voting rights within Indiana and Nationally. We very likely will be working with high impact bills on the state and national level. We need your active help!

Throughout Indiana, each of the League’s Voter Service (VS) committees work actively to provide accurate and current information, resources, and programs to the voters in their communities. The VS committees register voters, develop and execute Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaigns, organize candidate debates/forums, promote Vote411 as the premier voter guide, and work with and monitor local election officials to ensure voters’ rights are advocated for and protected. Local Leagues have the important role of educating, inspiring, and motivating community members to be active participants in the democratic process.

Recognizing there is strength in numbers and valuable knowledge and expertise among the local Leagues, a great opportunity exists to bring together representatives from each of the local Leagues and to leverage each other’s experiences, capabilities, and know-how in order to carry out the myriad tasks of serving Indiana’s voters.

Voter Services Coordinating Committee (VSCC)
Co-Chairs: Ken Jones/Greater Lafayette (joneskp0124@gmail.com), Patrice Waidner/Hamilton County (pcwaidner@gmail.com), Jorgena Watson/Henry County (jkwatson138@gmail.com)

In general, the VSCC will:
• act as a statewide advocate for voting rights and expanded voter access.
• provide and facilitate the sharing of information and resources among the local Leagues, coordinate actions, and develop programs that support local League efforts.

The VSCC will organize and sponsor four task forces to focus on:
1. Legislative Surveillance and Voting Rights--expanding voter access, and free, fair, and accessible elections.
2. Research, Documentation, and Address Voting Issues—at the county and state levels.
3. Voting Rights Training Development and Promotion, e.g., GOTV strategies, call-to-action communications, documents, and resources.
4. Other tasks as requested by the LWVIN board and agreed to by the VSCC members.

A few specific responsibilities for a local league advocate:
• Provide a state wide focus on voting rights needs, adding information from a particular area’s voting process perspective.
• Monitor voting rights bills introduced in the Indiana General Assembly (IGA) and US Congress. Assist to identify the voting rights bills that will be “watched” for advocacy.
• Share information about “watched” bills as they come before IGA committees.
• Send call-to-action communications on specific bills, for IGA or US Congress, to their local members and partners.
• As appropriate, post call to actions on social media and write Letters to the Editor of local newspapers.

Ken Jones, Patrice Waidner, and Jorgena Watson

LWVIN EDUCATION ADVOCACY

Hi, I am Nan Polk, the recently appointed chair of the LWVIN Education Advocates. As a retired 32-year veteran teacher and as a current member of my local school board, I am passionate about our children having equal access to quality education. Recent state legislation is significantly impacting the quality of education in our public schools. 157 new legislative mandates in the last four years, a severe shortage of qualified teachers, approximately a quarter of public-school taxpayer dollars being transferred from public education to “choice” schooling with little to no oversight or accountability, and the politicization of curriculum are some of the issues impacting our children’s equal access to quality public education.

Please consider volunteering to join the LWVIN Education Advocates or volunteer in your local League to be an advocate who will take action when call-to-actions are issued.


The LWVIN Education Advocates’ work is based on the LWVUS’s IMPACT ON ISSUES 2020-2022.

Our advocacy promotes

•Equal access to quality education recognizing that “equality” and “quality” are inseparable;
•Consistent and adequate funding levels for public schools provide for all students an education that meets Indiana standards and directives, and attracts and retains highly trained and certified teachers;
•Funding for quality early childhood education for all communities;
•Diversity, equality, and inclusion at every level of all educational institutions that receive state and federal funds; and
•Educational policies and directives based on facts, academic research, and study.

Like the League of Women Voters which belongs to the National Coalition for Public Education, the League of Women Voters of Indiana is a member of and works collaboratively with the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

The responsibilities of LWVIN Education Advocates

• Monitor education bills before the Indiana General Assembly.
• At the beginning of each legislative session, identify and share with local Leagues the education bills to be “watched”.
• Share information about “watched” bills as they come before committees.
• Create call-to-action messages on specific bills to be sent to each League’s education point person who then will pass on the message to their local members and partners.
• Write Letters to the Editor on key bills to be shared with Leagues and then published by local newspapers.

The 2022 Legislative Session is projected to be critical for public schools. Based on what is occurring in other states, what is happening at local school boards, and the discussion of education bills by Indiana lawmakers, the work of LWVIN education advocates will be crucial during the 2022 legislative session.

Local League Presidents are asked 
for the name of a member who would be willing to receive information and updates about education bills during the legislative session and pass that information on to members and coalition partners in a timely fashion. Please send that member’s name and email to the chair, Nan Polk (nanpolk@hotmail.com).

Are you interested in assisting Nan Polk, at the state level, as an LWVIN Education Advocate?

Please contact her (nanpolk@hotmail.com).
Nan Polk (written with the help of Jorgena Watson)

Confront the Climate Crisis rally at the Indiana Statehouse, March 19 (photo courtesy Rahul Durai)
LWVIN NATURAL RESOURCES ADVOCACY

The League’s non-partisan core is, of course, everything connected with voting, which is the bedrock of our democracy. However, the League’s advocacy on behalf of the environment goes back over five decades involving extensive study and formulation of our “Natural Resources” positions on water, air, solid waste, energy, land use, management of all kinds of waste, and now…..

Are you concerned about climate change?

***League advocacy has focused on this issue with renewed efforts based on a 2019 consolidation of League positions into a short effective LWVUS statement on the existential issue of climate.

***At the state level, LWVIN strongly supports the efforts of a statewide high school group, Confront the Climate Crisis. Based on their fine work, both a resolution addressing climate change and economic development, and a bill creating a Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force, will be introduced by State Senator Ron Alting in the upcoming session of the Indiana General Assembly.

***LWVIN and eight local Leagues (Bloomington-Monroe County, Brown County, Calumet Area, Fort Wayne, Greater Lafayette, La Porte County, Montgomery County, Muncie-Delaware, and Southwestern Indiana) have signed on to support these measures – thank you! Your local League can do so, too, at tinyurl.com/ClimateCoalitionForm. This is just one example of recent LWVIN environmental advocacy.

Another example is LWVIN’s participation with the other state Leagues bordering Lake Michigan in the excellent work of the League of Women Voters Lake Michigan Region (lwvlmr.org). Local Leagues can also join as members. After doing so virtually last year, Indiana again hosted the 2021 LWVLMR annual meeting both virtually so League members from all four states could benefit from the excellent programs, and in-person in Porter County where field trips included the newly designated Indiana Dunes National Park. LWVIN has participated in a number of measures such as letters of concern regarding water quality threats as well as support for continued federal funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Much of our LWVIN environmental work focuses on the Indiana General Assembly, both supporting favorable legislation and joining others, such as our partners at the Hoosier Environmental Council, to defeat bills that threaten the environment. We present testimony at committee hearings and ask you to communicate with your legislators on key issues. Thanks to all of you who are on our Natural Resources Advocacy list of over 200 for your important responses to calls for action.

Please contact us at kristina.lindborg@gmail.comif you have stories or tips to share, would like more information, or would like to receive our Natural Resources updates. We would love to have your help in protecting Indiana’s natural resources and addressing climate change.

Kristina Lindborg, Liz Solberg, Cheryl Chapman, and Lisa Harris

October 2 Women's Marches/Rallies in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis
LWVIN WOMEN'S HEALTH ADVOCACY

One in 4 American women of reproductive age have had abortions.Both the national and state Leagues have long supported Reproductive Choice. Click HERE to read our position on the Indiana League website. But Roe v. Wade is in jeopardy and LWV has embraced the issue this fall.

LWV joined2 amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Courtin support of reproductive rights -- in Whole Women's Health v. Jackson (challenging Texas SB8) and in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health (an important Mississippi case to be heard on Dec. 1.) Read more HERE.

Indiana has more abortion restrictions than any state other than Louisiana. But State Senator Liz Brown has announced that she is already working on a version of Texas SB8 for Indiana.

There were 7,756 abortions in Indiana last year, and medication abortions for the first time made up a majority of those abortion procedures – 55%-- about double the state’s rate from 2016. Medication abortion is limited to the first trimester and consists of two different pills taken up to 48 hours apart. Some states are even allowing telemedicine for these procedures.

So it makes sense that medication abortions are being targeted all over the country.

In 2021 Indiana’s big anti-abortion bill was HB 1577. It required medication abortion providers to sell the fraudulent idea that medication abortion can be reversed, prohibited telemedicine in abortions, and added more restrictions.

We are members of HAPA (Health Access and Privacy Advocates) -- as well as the Indiana Reproductive Freedom Roundtable formed in 2019. The Roundtable sent a futile letter to Governor Holcomb urging him to veto HB 1577. Signing on to the letter were 21 organizations, including the Indiana League. In HAPA Zoom meetings throughout 2021 we combed through each page on the website to update the language to reflect current standards of inclusion and diversity.

Because abortion access in Indiana is currently so heavily under attack, we have determined to shift our focus to something we can actually help improve: access to affordable contraception.

12 states now allow pharmacists to prescribe self-administered hormonal birth control, and 6 additional states are working on implementation. This year HB 1379 (Pharmacist contraceptive prescriptions) was authored by a Republican representative and co-authored by another Republican and 2 Democrats. It died in committee. Please read anti-abortion (and co-sponsor ) Democrat Rita Fleming’s editorial below.

Moving forward we will continue to track a wide variety of bills, with a focus on the affordability and availability of birth control across Indiana as well as maternal health and postpartum coverage. We will also be monitoring how much of the additional $250 million in federal Title X family planning funds just announced is applied for and granted to Indiana clinics.

We have 200 names on our email list for updates. If you want to be added to that list (and/or if you want to join us as an advocate), email Pam Locker at alandscaper@hotmail.com.

Pam Locker, Sabrina Glidden, and Betsy Kachmar


HEALTH CARE HYPOCRISY LOOMS LARGE FOR HOOSIER WOMEN, BABIES

HEALTHCARE REFORM ADVOCACY
I’d like to introduce myself as the HealthCare Reform Advocate. In interviewing me, Barb and Linda asked me what I am passionate about. As a Nurse and employee for the Indiana Department of Health, I am passionate about improving access to healthcare and insurance coverage in our nation, but particularly here in Indiana. Go HERE to read the LWV Healthcare Reform section of the LWV website.

If there is anyone who would like to join me, please contact me at forkan1@yahoo.com. I would like to brainstorm. I receive bulletins from the State that would be of interest to our members. Please let me hear from you!

Judy Forkan Kapoun