Legislative Hot Topics Event: Saturday, February 3rd

Join the State League the League’s state issue specialists on February 3rd at 10:00AM for a virtual event about the 2024 legislative session. This program will take a look at how the New York State League adopts and takes action on issues and sets legislative priorities. We will also introduce the various state issue specialists, how members can get engaged in their work, and what the expected hot topics are for the 2024 legislative session. Register for this program here.





A little Q and A


“What is the difference between advocacy and lobbying?” and “Can we do either? both?”

A fairly new member asked these questions recently and we decided other people have these questions too, so we’re sharing the answers.


ADVOCACY is encouraging people to support (or oppose) a particular issue (like reducing the use of plastics or banning assault weapons or increasing affordable housing). Activities might be having a panel discussion on the topic, creating an ad or bumper sticker encouraging certain behaviors, or sending the newspaper a letter-to-the-editor. It is only when an organization or individual speaks up about a particular piece of legislation that they have moved into LOBBYING territory.


“How much of either can a League member do?”


Our local League is a nonprofit, but its IRS designation is 501(c) (4), not 501(c)(3), so it can lobby all it wants! That’s why if you want a tax deduction for giving to us, you have to send us a separate check made out to the state League’s Education Foundation with our name on the memo line. LWVNY’s Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) while LWVNY itself is a 501(c)(4).


If your mailbox fills up regularly with appeals you may have probably noticed that other organizations in Albany and DC also have both a “c3” as well as a “c4” – e.g. the Planned Parenthood clinics and educational efforts are 501(c)(3) entities and the lobbying for reproductive freedom is done through its “action fund” – a 501(c)(4).


Many 501(c)(3) organizations are so afraid of being called out for doing lobbying, they carefully avoid anything that even looks like it. But actually most nonprofits can do far more lobbying than they think they can. Few even get close to the limit. This is why if we could recreate the LWV, we would probably opt to be 100% a 501(c)(3) organization that accepts tax-deductible donations. Laws have evolved over the past century!


“Can we still be credible in these distressingly divided times?”


YES! Somehow even now we continue to maintain the public’s confidence in our fairness. Our nonpartisanship and our thoughtful, well-researched positions are our greatest assets, especially now. Even when people say we lean too much toward one party’s policies, our reasonable, courteous approach keeps doors open. We are also still trusted to register voters and moderate candidate events.


“If I’m a big supporter of a certain candidate, can I still be active in the League?”


YES to that too! It takes some care and discretion, but except for highly visible members like the president or voter services chair who have to be especially careful about how they are perceived, League members can either just help behind the scenes or learn how to put their private views aside when they are wearing a League “hat” publicly. 104 years ago, our founder, Carrie Chapman Catt, insisted we should and could be nonpartisan even when others insisted it would never work. In 2024 we will continue to prove her right. The country still needs at least one organization like us.



2024 Promises Broad Protection for All New Yorkers’ Equal Rights


The New York State League of Women Voters is an active partner in the effort to pass a constitutional amendment adding to existing enumerated protections against discrimination based on race and religion.

This amendment would explicitly prohibit discrimination based on a person’s ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, and sex— including their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes, reproductive healthcare and autonomy.


Check out this website: https://nyequalrights.org/


The LWVMHR had our first committee meeting on January 24th. We are making a list of groups in the MidHudson Region that we can partner with to spread accurate information to the electorate.


Are you interested in joining our LWVMHR ERA task force? If so, contact Cindy Lanzatta at packback56@yahoo.com or Louise Reavis at louise.reavis@gmail.com


Our Committee’s next meeting will take place on February 16th, during the second half of the Southern Tier Meeting at the Silk Factory in Newburgh (regular mtg at noon, ERA discussion 12:45)



Observer Corps


An important part of a local League organization is an “Observer Corps” made up of volunteers who attend County Legislative Meetings. LWVMHR Member Jane Simkin Smith attended (virtually) the Dutchess County Legislative Meeting that took place on January 16th, 2024.


This meeting was a business meeting with important discussions. Ms. Smith attended virtually and wrote up an interesting summery of her observations and you can find them HERE

We look forward to her future reports and hope we can find some members who can pop into the County Legislative Meetings in Orange & Ulster, as well!