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Register to Vote!

National Voter Registration Day is Tuesday, Sept. 24, when organizations all across the U.S. will register new voters. The League of Women Voters/Kitsap will register new voters for three days, Sept. 24, 25 and 26, at the following locations:

Sept. 24
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Central Market – Poulsbo, 20144 10th Ave.
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Poulsbo’s Fishline Food Bank & Emergency Services, 18916 NE Third Ave.

Sept. 25
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Olympic College – Poulsbo, 1000 Olympic College Way NW
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Poulsbo’s Fishline Food Bank & Emergency Services, 18916 NE Third Ave.

Sept. 26
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Olympic College – Bremerton, 1600 Chester Ave.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Bainbridge Island Help Line House, 282 Knechtel Way NE

The Nov. 5 election is mail-in only, which means an address must be provided when you register so that you can receive your ballot. If you have no home address, you may use a friend’s or relative’s address or you can visit your nearest U.S. Post Office to arrange for a general delivery address you can use to receive your mailed ballot. Arrange for this general delivery address before visiting one of the registration locations.

Registration forms and address changes must be in the auditor’s office by Oct. 7. Anyone may register in person at the auditor’s office until Oct. 28.

Forums to Address Behavioral Health Funding

The League of Women Voters of Kitsap will hold three informational forums in August on a possible new sales and use tax increase being considered by the Kitsap County Commissioners as allowed by the Washington State Legislature. The tax of 1/10th of 1% (one penny for every $10 spent) would fund mental health and chemical dependency treatment programs in Kitsap County.

The public is invited to attend these forums:

Bainbridge Island City Hall
280 Madison Ave N
Aug. 15, 6:30-8 pm

Silverdale Community Center
9729 Silverdale Way NW
Aug. 19, 6:30-8 pm

Kitsap County Commissioners’ Chambers
619 Division Street
Port Orchard
Aug. 28, 6:30-8 pm
BKAT will record this session for future airing

For information call 360-692-3571.

Letter to Legislators calls for Fair, Adequate and Flexible Budget

With the second special session winding down, LWVWA calls on Legislators to adopt fair, adequate and flexible state revenue policies. President Kim Abel has sent a message to each legislator:

The League of Women Voters WA requests that you act now to pass a state budget that protects funding for vulnerable residents, protects the environment and steps up to our obligations to K-12 education. The League’s highest legislative priority this year asks you to adopt state revenue policies that are balanced, fair, adequate and flexible so that critical needs are met. Please set aside unrelated policy bills and pass a budget that meets critical needs. Thank you for your work on behalf of all Washingtonians.

Mark Your Calendar – Candidate Forums Planned for July

We don’t have a big presidential election this year, but we do have elections. And the primary will be here soon, on Aug. 6. To get to know your candidates, plan to attend our League candidate forums, beginning July 11 with a contested seat on the Bremerton City Council.
Here is the schedule of pre-primary forums:
Primary Election Candidate Forums

Bremerton City Council Seat 3
July 11
6:30 p.m.
Norm Dicks Government Center
345 6th St.
Candidates: Michael Strube, Adam C. Brockus, Jerald (Jerry) McDonald

North Kitsap School Board Seat 3
July 16
6:30 p.m.
Poulsbo City Hall
200 NE Moe St., Poulsbo
Candidates: Doug Prichard, Ken Ames, Beth Worthington

Bainbridge Island City Council Seat 3
July 23
6:30 p.m.
Bainbridge Island City Hall
280 Madison Ave. N, Bainbridge Island
Candidates: Roger Townsend, Robert Bosserman, Dee McComb

Forums will be recorded and broadcast later on BKAT
For more information: 360-871-3993

Premier Media Sponsor: Kitsap Sun

A Victory for Voters

Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S., calls the Supreme Court’s decision in the case Arizona v. ITCA Inc. “a strong decision protecting voters.”
“The decision is a strong endorsement of Congress’ power under the Elections Clause. In this case, Arizona overstepped by imposing restrictions on the voter registration process,” said MacNamara.
“State restrictions lost: Voters won today,” said MacNamara.
“Arizona wrongfully rejected thousands of voter registration applications,” said MacNamara. “The Court ruled that this was inconsistent with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).”
“The Court’s ITCA decision safeguards the voter registration process from political manipulation and will help block attempts in the states to restrict the right to vote,” MacNamara said.
“In its decision, the Court also recognized the importance of interstate voter registration drives like those conducted by the League of Women Voters.”
Arizona v. ITCA is a critically important voting rights case that examines whether the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) prevents states from passing laws that restrict the voter registration process. In this case, the League of Women Voters of the U.S. submitted an amicus brief and the League of Women Voters of Arizona was a named plaintiff.
“The NVRA was intended to and has succeeded in bringing millions more citizens into the democratic process since its passage in 1993,” said MacNamara.
“Restrictions on the use of the national voter registration application form like those tried by Arizona make it much more difficult to register eligible citizens to vote,” MacNamara said. “Independent registration drives by citizen groups like the League are often the only effective means for some voters to get registered and participate in our great democracy.”
“The Court’s ITCA decision safeguards the voter registration process from political manipulation and will help block attempts in the states to restrict the right to vote,” MacNamara said.
“This is a victory for voters plain and simple but we will need to continue to fight against limitations on the voter registration process.” concluded MacNamara. “This is an extremely important ruling that says the U.S. Congress has the power and authority to protect our right to vote.”

Catherine Ahl gets Liberty Bell Award

DSC_0022State League Co-President Kim Abel, left, presented Catherine Ahl with the Kitsap Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award at the annual Law Day Ceremony in Port Orchard on Friday. The award goes to a non-lawyer who has promoted legal education and awareness in the community. Catherine was recognized for her tireless advocacy of the state’s “paramount duty” to provide ample funding for education for all its children as well as for playing a key role in passing a law to require that all high school students receive instruction in civics. The law will go into effect in 2016. Catherine is a past president of the Kitsap League, a former North Kitsap School Board member and a member of the state League’s lobby team specializing in education issues.

Health Care Reform and You

Mark your calendar and plan to attend our April 9 public meeting on health care reform in Washington state. It’s free and open to all from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Norm Dicks Center on 6th Street in downtown Bremerton.
Bring your questions for presenters MaryAnne Lindeblad, Medicaid Director for the Washington State Health Care Authority, and Michael Marchand, Director of Communications for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kitsap, the Kitsap Public Health District and the Kitsap Sun. This event will be recorded for later broadcast by BKAT.
For information call (360) 692-3571.

League Supports Ruling Against Supermajority

The League of Women Voters of Washington welcomed the State Supreme Court’s decision that an initiative requiring a two-thirds vote to raise taxes was in conflict with the state Constitution, thereby giving the Legislature the authority to pass laws by simple majority. The LWVWA filed an amicus brief which argued that the rule was inconsistent with the history and text of the Constitution—reasoning that the Court ultimately adopted!

“This is a big win for schools, for infrastructure, and especially for democracy,” said Kim Abel, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Washington.

“The brief filed by LWVWA clearly played a key role in the majority opinion that struck down the two-thirds rule,” said attorney David Perez, who authored the LWVWA’s amicus brief pro bono. “The ruling was largely based on an understanding of the meaning of the phrase, ‘unless a majority.’ We argued that the Framers of our Constitution meant a ‘simple majority.’ And the Court agreed.”

“Voters want good schools, safe bridges and roads, clean air to breathe and clean water to drink along with trustworthy elections and safe communities—all the work of our elected officials,” says Abel.

Many are skeptical that even with the simple majority requirement the current legislature will be willing to identify additional revenue. Ms. Abel disagrees. “We believe that this decision will allow the legislature to do the job they were elected for and manage the budget in a way that meets the most basic needs of the state.”

Linnea Hirst, LWVWA Co-President, concurs: “This court ruling will help our legislators fulfill their responsibilities in accordance with the Constitution, as emphasized by the recent McCleary decision requiring full funding of public education.”

The League of Women Voters is a respected nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

A Legal Challenge to Charter Schools

A coalition of educators and community groups has filed a legal demand with the Washington Attorney General challenging the constitutionality of Initiative 1240, the state’s new charter school law.

The demand asserts I-1240, the Charter School Act, violates the Washington Constitution by improperly diverting public school funds to private non-profit groups that are not subject to local voter control and impeding the state’s constitutional obligation to fund fully K-12 public education.

The League of Women Voters of Washington, the Washington Education Association and El Centro de la Raza filed the demand with the state attorney general’s office earlier today.
“The Washington Supreme Court has ruled the state is violating its paramount duty to fund our public schools,” said Catherine Ahl of the League. “The Charter School Act drains money from public schools to privately run charter schools that aren’t accountable to local voters — taking away the right of citizens to elect representatives to oversee the spending of their taxes.”

The demand outlines at least seven constitutional problems with the Charter School Act:
1. It violates the state’s constitutional “paramount duty” to provide for the education of children within its borders. In its 2012 McCleary decision, the Washington Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fully fund basic educational programs by 2018. The Charter School Act interferes with the state’s progress toward compliance by diverting already insufficient resources away from public school districts.
2. It unconstitutionally diverts funding that is restricted to use for public common schools to private charter schools that are not subject to local voter control.
3. It violates the “general and uniform” requirement in the constitution because charter schools are not subject to most of the laws and regulations applicable to public school districts, including many of the common school provisions defining the elements of a basic education.
4. It amends existing state law in a manner not permitted by the constitution.
5. It violates the constitutional requirement that the superintendent of public instruction “have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools.”
6. Its language relating to the conversion of a public school into a charter school is unconstitutionally vague.
7. It violates the constitution because it mandates the use of local voter-approved levy funds for a purpose other than the purpose for which the voters approved the levies.

The demand asks the attorney general’s office to address the unconstitutional provisions of the Charter School Act. If the attorney general’s office declines, the coalition will file a complaint in Superior Court. Paul Lawrence of Pacifica Law Group is the lead attorney in the case.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization. WEA represents nearly 82,000 public school employees. El Centro de la Raza is a Seattle-based group dedicated to social justice.

Celebrate our First 50 Years at Art Walk March 1

The Kitsap County Historical Society Museum, 280 Fourth St., Bremerton, will host the League of Women Voters of Kitsap’s 50-Year Celebration during Art Walk, March 1 from 5-8 p.m.
There will be a program at 6 p.m. with members of the League speaking about our history. The League has recently completed a project organizing archives with the assistance of museum volunteers. A presentation of the archive will then be made to the museum. Refreshments will be served.
For more information, please contact (360) 479-6226.