League of Women Voters of Manatee County
Committees are made up of LWV members who study issues, make recommendations to the board and engage in public education efforts. All phone numbers are for area code 941. For more contact information, click on “Officers” tab. Additional committees may be formed by volunteers interested in a community issue.
The Education Committee studies issues related to the quality and accessibility of education in Manatee County at all levels. This past year we participated in the Manatee County School District Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee. That committee’s primary activity was the creation and distribution of a survey to involve the citizens in determining what are the most important school goals and programs, conducting five public meetings to get additional comments. The survey was very successful, garnering 943 responses that were used when the district prepared its budget and strategic plan. A series of meetings at the schools are currently being held to present the results to the community.
We held a great series of Hot Topic programs this past year, delving into many major issues, with good turnouts and excellent speakers who provided information and promoted understanding. Our programs in 2014 included talks on the Sex Trafficking; the Future of Newspapers in the Digital Age; Immigration Reform; and Voting Rights. This past fall we covered the proposed Florida Constitutional Amendments and delved into the issue of Climate Change. Always dealing with current issues, our spring 2015 lineup includes Police-Minority Relations, the need for the Health Care Expansion, and Campaign Contributions—their effects on our elections and government.
Many thanks to all who help stock our luncheon buffet table, especially hospitality coordinator Cindy Nelson and Lois McKee, who bring the lunch ware and entrée. We are also indebted to our collaborators, Bradenton Woman’s’ Club, for the use of their facility, and METV for taping our programs and broadcasting them on their station and YouTube link: www.metvweb.com.
Photo: Manatee County NAACP president Susie Copeland speaks at the Hot Topic on Police and Minority Relations held January 12, 2015.
Continuing our education efforts, we provided a series of presentations on the Affordable Care Act, including not only in our county but in Sarasota, Venice, Clearwater, and Palmer Ranch. The presentation was updated with current information.
In our community collaboration efforts, committee members attended meetings of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Health Committee, Manatee HealthCare Alliance and public meetings arranged by the Board of Commissioners of Manatee County to discuss health care issues and options. We also sent our recommendations to the County Commission regarding indigent care. Those recommendations included: advocating to the state to accept the Medicaid expansion; collaborating with the hospitals to establish walk-in clinics; and supporting coordinated health care across providers in the interest of better-informed, cost-effective care.
We have two major projects at this time: 1. Advocating to the state legislators to adopt a Florida solution to close the health care gap, insure over one million Floridians without insurance, and obtain over $50 billion in federal funds to do so. 2. We are participating in the Manatee County Community Health Assessment and Health Improvement project, along with many other organizations and agencies that deal with health issues or provide services. Our subcommittee will study Forces of Change Assessment--the potential changes in our community that could affect health outcomes. We are very excited about this project and welcome any of our members to join our committee.
Committee members--Suzanne Dickie, Chair. Nancy Horne, Margaret Anne Moore, Cindy Nelson, Rosalie Shaffer
MEMBERSHIP AND FUNDRAISING
We engaged in a number of outreach activities and tabling events this past year, to help make citizens aware of our work and to attract new members. Seen as a key community organization, our membership grew, reaching 77 by the end of 2014. This past spring the state League has asked all of its members to help grow our leagues statewide, with the goal of doubling our membership. We ask all of our members to recruit at least one more member for our League. We also encourage our members to become active, engaging in committee work of interest. It’s a great way to learn, meet interesting people and improve public participation in government. All members are encouraged to attend our board meetings.
Fundraising: Since most of our dues income is paid out to help support state and national LWV, we supplement it with LWV grants when those opportunities arise. Last year we received a grant from LWVUS for our young voters registration project and this year from LWVF for promoting the healthcare expansion. We also received helpful sponsorship grants from the Bradenton Herald, Beall’s, and M&M Printing for our Voters Guides. Special thanks to members who renewed for 2015 at the Cornerstone Level: Ashley Brown, Elaine & Steve Graham, Amanda & John Horne, Nancy Horne, Jane Plitt, Rosalie & Gary Shaffer, and Jo Williams. Your help was essential for keeping us in the black!
The more members we have, the more we can accomplish. Join today! Membership form.
NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE
Our main campaign last year was to get voter approval of the Florida Water and Land Legacy amendment on the 2014 ballot. The Florida League supported this amendment to the Florida Constitution, which would set aside a portion of state document stamp revenue for the purchase of conservation land and the restoration of ecosystems that have been damaged by human activities. We were very pleased with the great public support from the voters, who voted 75% in favor. But now our concern is to protect this accomplishment from enabling legislation that might include provisions allowing for the “raiding” of these funds for inappropriate uses.
Please contact your state legislators now and ask them to implement the amendment as written, and not divert its funds for other projects or programs.
We continue to work on coastal issues, given development pressures to cause environmental impacts to coastal habitats, and the need for better enforcement of rules, such as for mangrove trimming. The Piney Point phosphate mining wastewater ponds continue to be a problem for our county, and we need to find environmentally sound solutions to its disposal. We oppose any plan to inject it underground if it could impact our aquifer.
Wagon Tour with us! Given the huge success of last fall’s nature cruise, we will sponsor a wagon tour of Robinson Preserve on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 10:00 am—with county guides, a narrated tour of this natural gem in western Manatee County. $5 fee. For more information and to make a reservation, call 729-9248.
Committee: Paula Roberts, chair; Rosalie Shaffer, Judy Tremaine, and Jo Williams
OUTREACH AND SPEAKER’S BUREAU
Like us on Facebook! This past fall we launched our league into social media with Facebook full of news, photos, info and commentaries. Many thanks to members Ashley Brown and Amanda Horne for getting it up and running. Check it out at LWV Manatee Facebook.
Committee: Ashley Brown, Amanda Horne
The Speaker’s Bureau is currently available to community groups that would like speakers on a variety of topics. Speakers with powerpoint programs are currently available for the following topics:
· The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010: what it says and how it changes health care.
· Why Florida Needs to Expand Health Care: With over $50 billion dollars in federal aid at stake, and care access for one million Floridians, why the Florida Legislature should approve the expansion. We’ll discuss a “Florida solution” for this issue.
· The League of Women Voters: “Making democracy work”: what we stand for, what we do, and how we do it.
· Voting Rights and Voter Turnout: Why your vote counts.
· Restoring Felon Rights to Vote: Should one conviction mean that someone can no longer vote, even after they have completed their sentence? All about the petition drive for a Florida Constitutional Amendment to address that injustice.
Committee: Sue Dickie for health topics, 782-4530; and Rosalie Shaffer for all others: 729-9248.
Given our strong commitment to voter education and participation, our League hit the ground running this election season to do everything we could to help educate voters and encourage a high turnout. Our volunteers have truly done an amazing job this election, including…
Voter Registration: This project was a tremendous success, not only in the numbers registered (over 500), but also the bonds we formed with the schools and other community organizations. We registered at every high school in the county to enlist new voters and showed a powerpoint as to why it was important to vote. We also registered at libraries, restaurants, and community fairs.
Candidate Forums: We teamed up with the Bradenton Herald and METV in a series of timed debates for candidates for US, state, county and city elections. We also participated in debates in partnership with other groups such as the AMI Sun, covering the contests in our beach cities, and at the Manatee Fish & Game summit.
Voter Guides: Our most important product is our Voter Guides, which present nonpartisan information on candidates and ballot initiatives. We distributed 6,000 state LWV general election guides (which contain the state candidates and constitutional amendments), and 8,000 (4,000 each) for the local primary and general elections, to public libraries, civic and community centers. These have been invaluable to the voters in making their decisions. We thank the Bradenton Herald, M&M Printing and Bealls for their support of our printed local guides.
Amendment Talks: There were just three state constitutional amendments on the ballot this election, but they were controversial and confusing. We cleared the air by holding two Hot Topics, featuring pro and con speakers, and several talks at community organizations to explain what these amendments say and what they would change.
Voter Information Center: To reach even more voters with our election information, we assembled all the nonpartisan information in one place—on our website. We included links to our guides, as well as links to METV and other nonpartisan sites with information on candidates and issues—a one-stop shopping center for voting information. It proved to be a big hit with the users and certainly extended our informational reach. Our website stats show 12,325 visits in October, and 11,806 in November.
In the blizzard of political ads this election, we stood out as the main source of nonpartisan, unbiased information that the voters rely upon. Here’s one phone comment we received in November that sums it up well: ”Thank you for helping me. I don’t know what I would have done without your information.”
Restoring the Right to Vote: In most states convicted felons may vote after completion of their sentences. However, in Florida a past felony conviction can mean a permanent loss of the right to vote. Florida is one of just 11 states that continue to restrict voting rights even after a person has completed probation or other terms of a sentence.
The Floridians for a Fair Democracy is currently circulating a petition for a 2016 ballot initiative to address this injustice. The Voting Restoration Amendment would allow Floridians who have served their felony sentences, but are not convicted of murder or sexual offenses, to have their voting rights back as soon as they complete their sentence, including parole or probation. You can download the petition here: Voting Rights Petition
Voter Services Committee: Rosalie Shaffer, chair; Ashley Brown, Bernita Franzel, Elaine Graham, Nancy Horne, Barbara Jakusovszky, Kay Levy, Anne McFarlane, Paula Roberts.
Volunteer for a Committee!
All of our committees need members. We want to do more, and we need you!
League of Women Voters of Manatee County
P.O. Box 545
Bradenton, FL 34206-0545
Last updated: March 20, 2015