- By Cheryl Dunson, President, LWV Connecticut
In the days following the December 2012 Newtown tragedy, it became clear
to our State League leadership that we would have to plunge into action. Members from across the state – rural, suburban and urban – began to ask “What are you going to do?” Leaguers who had shied away from our advocacy role now fully embraced it.
LWVCT has a long history
of speaking in support of bills to regulate gun access and regulation, and indeed helped pass Connecticut’s 1994 assault weapons ban
. However, we did not know from week to week how the legislative process would proceed. As legislative leaders in Hartford struggled to find a way to contain the powerful emotions and begin a deliberative process, we met with our long time coalition partner on gun violence prevention Connecticut Against Gun Violence
(CAGV), connected with the new grassroots mothers coalition, March for Change
, participated in community forums and listened to our members. Members took charge and became liaisons on gun violence prevention advocacy to their local Leagues and worked with the new grassroots mothers’ coalition. Local leagues
organized petition drives and letter campaigns, sought passage of local resolutions, sent letters to the editor, held meetings with their local and state officials, posted on social media andencouraged members and friends to attend
the huge March for Change rally for stricter gun laws at the State Capitol in February.
LWVCT rallies for stricter gun laws at the March for Change rally at the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut.
For three months, our state legislators faced an onslaught of public attention and contentious debate over gun violence and the related issues of mental health and school safety. They sat through marathon public hearings, responded to ferocious advocacy filling their mailboxes and endured the craze of thousands of people organizing in the state legislative building for public hearings as well as the over 5,000 people
who rallied at the March for Change protest at the Capitol. In the end, many said that they had discerned what they had to do
from the voices of “ordinary citizens,” rather than from the numerically overwhelming numbers of those with a vested interest in gun manufacturing or the usual antagonists over gun laws.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, thousands of residents – formerly the silent majority – raised their voices in the call for changes to our gun laws. League members provided the information and know-how to connect citizens with their officials. With this strong public outpouring, Connecticut’s lawmakers found common ground on gun legislation
by putting people first.
It was done in Connecticut, and it can be done in DC if we enable the "silent majority" to speak up and demand change. Working together, we can do it!
The Global Water Crisise in the 21st Century
For its 44th Symposium on International Relations
, the League of Women Voters of Connecticut will convene an outstanding panel to speak about the quality and supply of water, the potential impacts of climate change on water resources, international collaboration on and engineering approaches to water issues, and the global economic impacts of water abundance and scarcity. The symposium takes place on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 8:30 at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.
President Obama came to Hartford at a key moment for Connecticut and for the national debate on gun control legislation. As WSHU's Craig LeMoult reports, many who supported stricter gun laws in the state are now turning their attention to Washington.
Listen to the WSHU Public Radio story here
Comments from Sue McCalley, LWVCT's gun-law specialist were heard by hundreds of radio stations nationwide. LISTEN to the full CT Public News Service story here
Hartford, CT — With President Barack Obama coming to Hartford on Monday, April 8, local advocates hope he will cite Connecticut lawmakers as an example to Congress that bipartisan solutions can be found to thorny issues such as gun control. Comments from Sue McCalley, gun-law specialist for the League of Women Voters-CT.
It was only days ago that Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed tough new gun-control measures into law, and today President Obama will be in Hartford to push for stricter measures nationwide.
According to League of Women Voters gun-law specialist Sue McCalley, firearms-buyer background checks now are universal in Connecticut, meaning they reach all points of sale: public, private and on the Internet. She declared that the Nutmeg State is a powerful example for Congress and the nation.
"When the president comes, I hope he takes back the message to Washington that there can be a bipartisan solution to the prevention of gun violence. Connecticut did it; we ought to be able to do this also."
McCalley noted that state gun-control measures passed by wide margins despite significant opposition from the National Rifle Association. Nationwide, however, the NRA appears to have the early lead in this fight. The Wall Street Journal says 10 states have reduced gun restrictions, while lawmakers only opted to make them tighter in five states.
McCalley said that guns can be easily transported from one state to the next, and that's one reason Congress needs to pass federal laws to back up the states.
"Universal background checks are certainly very important, and we hope that the assault-weapons ban and a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines might be able to be put into law through amendment."
McCalley says the "un-silent" majority of local citizens demanded change on this issue and lawmakers created a bipartisan task force to ensure that all sides got heard.
"Mainly because they have been able to come to consensus in a bipartisan way," she said. "Everyone felt that they had had a part in this legislation."
The Newtown Elementary School shootings often are cited as a major factor in the push for stricter gun laws in Connecticut.
McCalley said her group uses a consensus approach to discuss and come to action on difficult issues. She hope the U.S. Senate can do the same when it takes up gun measures later this month.
- Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT
Advocates for Accountable Government aims to restore funding and autonomy to oversight agencies
NEWS RELEASE Friday, March 22, 2013
Contact: Wade Gibson, Senior Policy Fellow, Connecticut Voices for Children
cell: 203-974-2361, email@example.com
(Hartford, CT) As a state legislative committee considered bills on Friday that would reduce the funding and independence of state watchdog agencies, a newly-formed coalition -- Advocates for Accountable Government – called upon lawmakers to protect the independence of the watchdog agencies that ensure government does business in the open, that elections are conducted fairly, and that our public officials maintain ethical standards.
The coalition -- formed in response to threats to the budgetary and decision-making independence of the Freedom of Information Commission, Ethics Commission and Elections Commission -- warned that the proposed funding cuts and staff reorganization for these watchdog agencies would put political appointees of a state administration in control of the budget and legal staff of these agencies. The member organizations of Connecticut Advocates for Accountable Government include an array of groups concerned with government accountability, civil liberties, campaign finance, citizen participation, legal assistance, and public policy.
The General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee held a public hearing on Friday morning on two bills that would implement proposals by Governor Malloy. One bill (House Bill 6354) would cut funding for these state agencies. It would also merge the legal staff that serve as hearing officers and render decisions for the currently independent state agencies into a pooled staff within the Office of Government Accountability, with decisions about the hiring of these staff transferred to the administrator of the Office, an appointee of the Governor. Another bill (House Bill 6353) would further reduce the independence of the watchdog agencies by giving the Office of Policy and Management, the Governor’s policy office, control over the agencies’ budgets.
The coalition expressed concern about the erosion of public access to information in recent years, including budget cuts and consolidations that have already reduced these agencies’ autonomy and ability to carry out their work, and a backlog of appeals that are before the Freedom of Information (FOI) Commission.
“Our organization and the public depend on oversight agencies like the Freedom of Information Commission to ensure access to information we need to hold accountable state agencies that serve Connecticut’s children and families,” said Wade Gibson, Senior Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children. “By weakening the Commission, this proposal would weaken the ability of independent groups, the public, and legislators to evaluate the performance of state agencies.”
“We need to be clear about the fact that this proposal does not save the state money and that it takes away something priceless – the independence of the watchdogs,” commented Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director of Common Cause in Connecticut. “The public should never need to question the integrity of a watchdog decision, but with this proposal they will, because those decisions may be subject to political pressure.”
"Government watchdog agencies must be independent to ensure government transparency and accountability," said Andrew Schneider, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. "Compromising their independence will injure the public, impair justice and, in some cases, threatens civil rights."
The organizations were joined in their statement by the Connecticut Council for Freedom of Information, an organization of news media companies that seeks to ensure open access to government information. “The Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information fully endorses and supports the coalition’s position on the consolidation and looks forward to working with the coalition to defeat the proposed legislation,” said James Smith, President of the Council.
Connecticut Advocates for Accountable Government is a statewide partnership of non-profit organizations that is dedicated to improving the openness and accountability of state and local government in Connecticut. The coalition formed in response to the steady erosion of the public’s access to information about the government it elects and funds. Its mission is two-fold: to combat efforts to reduce transparency and accountability, and to promote initiatives that restore Connecticut's place as one of the most open governments in the United States.
The members of Connecticut Advocates for Accountable Government are:
· American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut
· Connecticut Association for Human Services
· Connecticut Citizen Action Group
· Common Cause in Connecticut
· Connecticut Voices for Children
· League of Women Voters of Connecticut
· Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School
· New Haven Legal Assistance Association
The Appropriations Committee hearing is scheduled for 10:00 am on Friday, March 22 in Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building. The testimony delivered by supporters of Connecticut Advocates for Accountable Government is available at http://www.ctvoices.org/node/3018.
The League of Women Voters of Connecticut will join with the New England First Amendment Coalition (NEFAC) and three other advocacy groups organizations to present “Everyday Exposes: How to Use the CT Freedom of Information Act to Uncover Information in Your Community,” on Wednesday, March 27, at 6 p.m. at Qunnipiac University in Hamden. This how-to session was developed by NEFAC for “Sunshine Week,” the annual national promotion of the need for open government and freedom of information. The Connecticut Foundation for Open Government, Connecticut Library Association and the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists are also co-sponsors for the event.
A stellar panel of professional journalists will share information about how to navigate the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act to find what you need in the public record—whether news stories or citizen action and informed political activity. The panelists include moderator Lynne DeLucia, editor, Connecticut Health Investigative Team; and investigative reporters Beau Berman, WTIC-TV; Bill Cummings, Hearst CT Newspaters; Matt Kauffman, Hartford Courant; and Jill Konopka, WFSB-TV.
There is no charge for the session or parking Light refreshments will be served. For additional information, contact Rose Cavanagh at 401-331-7209 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization of women and men, encouraging informed and active participation in government, and working to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influence public policy through education and advocacy. For information, go to www.lwvct.org.
The New England First Amendment Coalition was founded in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the public’s right to know. A broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society, its members include lawyers, journalists, historians, librarians, academics and private citizens.
Today, the League of Women Voters of Southeastern Connecticut celebrates the 93rd anniversary of the national organization's founding. Formed as a "political experiment" shortly before the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the League aimed to help newly enfranchised women to exercise their responsibilities as voters. Since its inception in 1920,the non-partisan organization has grown to more than ...
Click here to read the full story by Judy Dolphin Ledyard President, League of Women Voters of Southeastern Connecticut in The Day
Read the full story below or listen to the podcast version of the story at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/30789-1
HARTFORD, Conn. - Expanded background checks on firearms buyers and putting limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines are two of more than a dozen ways Connecticut lawmakers are proposing to update state gun laws in response to the Newtown tragedy.
National Rifle Association leaders oppose background checks because, they say, criminals could not care less about them. However, Sue McCalley, gun-law specialist with the League of Women Voters of Connecticut, disagreed with the NRA's logic.
"That would make the case for not having any laws at all," she declared. "With the background check, especially if the data is brought up to speed, this will make a difference in terms of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals."
For immediate release
February 3, 2013
On February 14, the League of Women Voters of Connecticut and its members from across the state will celebrate the 93rd anniversary of the founding of the national organization by joining Connecticut citiizens of all ages for the “March for Change” at the State Capital in Hartford to demand safer gun laws. The rally, organized by a dedicated group of activist parents, seeks changes in Connecticut’s gun laws in response to the Newtown massacre of 26 young children and educators.
The League of Women Voters of Connecticut has long supported measures to protect the health and safety of citizens through regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic weapons. In response to the December tragedy, the LWVCT has intensified its advocacy and education efforts at the community and legislative levels. The League’s current legislative priorities include univeral background checks on all gun sales, a ban on large capacity ammunition magazines, strengthening of the state assault weapons ban and of safe storage requirements.
Over the past two months, League members throughout the state have been sponsoring community forums, contacting their legislators, submitting testimony to the General Assembly Working Group on Gun Violence Prevention and urging their friends and neighbors to become involved in the effort. On its website, the LWVCT has posted “Four Things You Can Do in Light of the Newtown Gun Tragedy,” including information about how to contact legislators and ways to spearhead change at the community level.
Formed in 1920 as a “political experiment” shortly before the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted, the League of Women Voters strives to encourage informed and active participation in government, increase understanding of major public policy issues and influence public policy through education and advocacy. In commenting on the significance of the League’s anniversary on the same day as the “March for Change,” LWVCT President Cheryl Dunson noted, “Our foremothers fought for the right to vote in order to have a voice in the goverment decisions that impacted them, their families and their communities. Ninety-three years later, we are continuing to speak out for sound public policy. At the March, we will join with men and women across the state calling for sensible changes to gun laws to reduce gun violence in our state.”
To learn more about the February 14 rally, go to www.marchforchange.org
. For information about the League, visit www.lwvct.org
, or call (203)288-7996.
Join Charter Oak Cultural Center and Hartford2020 for A Farewell to Arms: A Community Conversation About Gun Laws at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 at Charter Oak Cultural Center, 21 Charter Oak Ave. in Hartford.
Panelists will include State Sen. Beth Bye; the Rev. Henry Brown, of Hartford’s Mothers United Against Violence; Deborah Lewis, co-chair of the Central Connecticut chapter of One Million Moms for Gun Control; Jim Finley Jr., executive director and CEO of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, and Cheryl Dunson, president of the League of Women Voters of Connecticut.
The event is free.