West Virginia Update
IN THIS ISSUE
FUNDING KANAWHA COUNTY LIBRARIES
Background: Three times the Kanawha County Board of Education sued to have the Kanawha Public Library monies that were appropriated by the legislature returned to the Board. The Supreme Court ruled in the Board’s favor this last time (2013). The decision resulted in a loss of about 40% of the library’s total operating budget. Several other counties in West Virginia which had similar legislative mandates, made the decision to continue funding their libraries. Kanawha County did not.
The Kanawha Library system could not effectively function without this money. The County Board of Education placed a levy on the ballot for the May 2014 primary, but they included added a large amount of dollars for improvements in the school system. This levy failed. The Board of Ed has agreed to put the issue to the public once again in the November 4 general election, this time with a much lower dollar amount, and with the total going to operate the library system.
HOW IS YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY FUNDED?
The WV League of Women Voters is finishing up its study on Public Library Financing in WV, and you can participate. You should have received the league’s study material, either via email or through your local league. (To have it emailed to you, contact NnovakWv@gmail.com.) Local leagues in Huntington, Jefferson County, Morgantown and Wood County will hold meetings this month to discuss the background material and answer the questions together. Members-at-large may participate by filling out the questionnaire and returning it by October 15 to Carolyn Watson, 131 Starlight Lane, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425. Please clearly identify yourself in order to be counted as a league member.
All statewide candidates have been asked questions by the league, and their answers will appear in the WV Voter, your state league newsletter, and will be posted to the WV League website about October 15. The candidates covered will be the two major parties, Republicans and Democrats, and also five additional parties appearing on the state ballot. The US Senate and House races will include the Libertarian, Independent, Constitution and Mountain parties. The WV Senate and House of Delegates races will include the American Freedom Party, Constitution Party, Independent, Libertarian, Mountain Party. However, not every party will be represented in every county. You may see the complete list on the Secretary of State’s website, http://apps.sos.wv.gov/elections/candidate-search/, with local races found at your County Clerk’s office. There are no state Constitutional Officers or Supreme Court races on the ballot in 2014.
WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY
Recently the League of Women Voters marked Women’s Equality Day, the 94th anniversary of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote. The Huntington League celebrated the occasion with its work to engage and empower all voters. League members are committed to making sure voters have the information they need to participate in elections and ensure their votes count. The Huntington League cooperated with the Herald-Dispatch to produce an election guide; they are sponsoring candidates meetings, and they register citizens to vote. Other leagues in West Virginia are similarly active at for the November election.
REPORT FROM NATIONAL CONVENTION
West Virginia League member Conni Lewis (Charleston) attended the Convention in Dallas in June. She served as a presenter for caucus called “Don’t Drink the Water: Protect Your Water from Chemical Spills” sponsored by an Illinois league. She drew from her experiences as an affected resident during the January 2014 spill from a chemical storage tank into the Elk River. Three hundred thousand residents of Charleston and nine counties were affected. The league caucus presented information about the spill and how we can reduce the risk of a similar spill.
AGRICULTURE CONSENSUS ANNOUNCED
The national league board has approved the new position on Federal Agriculture Policies, which was based on responses from 243 state and local Leagues. The new Statement of Position reads, in part:
The League believes that government should provide financial support for agriculture that includes disaster assistance, crop insurance, need-based loans and incentives to adopt best management practices. Support should be extended to new production methods, such as organic, hydroponic, and urban practices, and to farms that supply local and regional markets.
Subsidized crop yield insurance should be linked to implementation of best management practices with the subsidy denied for marginal or environmentally sensitive land. Government should limit the amount of the premium subsidy received by larger farms.
The League supports policies that increase competition in agricultural markets. Antitrust laws should be enforced to ensure competitive agricultural markets. Alternative marketing systems such as regional hub markets, farmers’ markets and farmer cooperatives should be promoted. Clean air and water regulations should apply to all animal and aquaculture production and processing facilities. For further information, please see http://www.lwv.org/content/lwvus-position-federal-agriculture-policies.
TURNING POINT SUFFRAGIST MEMORIAL
A league in Virginia is spearheading an effort to build a memorial to the women who sacrificed so much in the days leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment. In partnership with the association trying to raise funds to build this memorial, the league is are trying to raise awareness among members all over the country; the imprisoned women were from all over the country as well. They are also collecting suffrage effort stories from the states to be made available at the memorial. Many of the supporters had great-grandmothers in the forefront of the fight. If you are interested in this project, please see the website www.suffragistmemorial.org.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
The WV League board of directors will meet in Bridgeport on November 8, 2014. Any League member may attend. If interested, please contact NnovakWv@gmail.com.
Nancy Novak, President
League of Women Voters of West Virginia