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LWVLL President’s Remarks at the LB 1402 Referendum Kick Off News Conference

May 10, 2024, 10 A.M., Nebraska State Capitol

 

Presented by Cynthia Peterson, President
League of Woman Voters of Lincoln/Lancaster County
llpresident@lincolnleague.org
402-525-3724

LB 1402 Referendum Kick Off News Conference, 5/10/2024

LWVLL President Cynthia Peterson speaks at the LB 1402 Referendum Kick Off News Conference, 5/10/2024

Good morning. I’m Cynthia Peterson, president of the League of Women Voters of Lincoln Lancaster County; also representing the League of Women Voters-Nebraska. The League is a non-partisan civic organization that encourages informed and active participation in government. 

The Nebraska League of Women Voters has consistently opposed school voucher legislation for many years because we support public education and believe that public dollars must be used in accordance with state and federal laws. 

The League is also all about voters and voting.

League members thought we’d be using this time to educate Nebraska voters about LB753, so they could make the best-informed decision, either for or against, the repeal referendum for the 2023 Opportunity Scholarship measure that’s currently on the November ballot. 

The voters are the second house of the Nebraska Legislature, providing the checks and balances for legislative activity. 

Instead, League member statewide are poised to again volunteer their time and energy to collect signatures to get the referendum for LB 1402, known as the updated Opportunity Scholarships Act, on the November ballot. We believe the final decision on LB 1402 should rest with the voters.

We were very vocal in our opposition to LB753, the first opportunity scholarship measure, and are even more opposed to LB1402, which was a deliberate end-run around the repeal referendum process and the right of Nebraska voters to say yes or no. 

Last summer and fall, over 117,000 Nebraska voters signed the LB753 referendum petition, indicating they thought it was important the electorate have the final say concerning school vouchers for private and parochial schools, knowing it could siphon off public tax dollars from public education. 

On the final day of this legislative session, 32 senators, the Governor and likely some outside influencers decided what the Nebraska voters wanted didn’t matter, and inserted themselves into the middle of the referendum process. They voted into law a new Opportunity Scholarships Act that annually allocates $10 million in public tax dollars to the State Treasurer’s Office to distribute to qualified private and parochial school students. Thus, effectively nullifying 2023 legislation, and denying Nebraska voters the opportunity to vote for or against the measure in November/

League members across the state will once again step up in support of public schools and the repeal referendum process.

Nebraska voters have the right to provide checks and balances on legislative actions. State senators and the Governor have the obligation to listen and act accordingly.

Thank you.

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2024 LWV-Lincoln/Lancaster County
Annual Membership Meeting, April 20th 2024

2024 LWV-LL Annual Meeting Attendees

About 38 members and 5 guests registered for and attended the annual meeting.

See LWVLL president Cynthia Peterson’s summary of the event details at https://lincolnleague.org/2024-lwvll-agm/

And see more photos at https://lincolnleague.org/photos-2024-annual-meeting/

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Voter Registration-Super Saver

Registering voters at Super Saver. Left to Right: Joyce Latrom and Phyllis Arth, deputy registrars.

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Voter Registration-Novel Idea

Thanks to Cinnamon and Katherine from Novel idea for hosting a voter registration and Membership drive for League of Women Voters. Pictured left to right Shelley Stall and Jane Witte.

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Photos from the Lincoln Women’s March on Saturday, March 16th, 2024. The League had a good time greeting marchers and registered voters. We enjoyed listening to imspiring speakers.

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https://journalstar.com/opinion/letters/letter-let-people-vote-on-private-school-funding/article_f6d021c2-f1ef-11ee-b77c-cf8d08a8b0c2.html

Letter: Let people vote on private school funding

April 9, 2024

LB1402 has many problems: It violates the Nebraska Constitution, allocates money the Appropriations Committee says we don’t have and enables public tax dollars to be directed to organizations that can discriminate.

But one of the bill’s amendments — which states that funds “are for a fundamental public purpose of state government and constitute an ordinary expense of government” — is perhaps the most alarming. Why include this language? To ensure it cannot be challenged by a ballot initiative.

Ballot initiatives are an important part of our democratic process. They span the political spectrum. Since 1914, Nebraskans have voted on 69 ballot initiatives. Some passed, including voter ID, legislative term limits and the minimum wage. More failed, including the first to grant women voting rights in 1914.

Nebraska is among 24 states that have ballot initiative processes. This process is even more important as we have a small number of state senators — 49 — legislating for almost 2 million Nebraskans. Our unique unicameral only works if Nebraskans can make their voices heard when they disagree with a policy that fewer than 49 senators instituted.

The Legislature exempting itself from the will of the people is a blatant, inappropriate power grab. The League of Women Voters of Nebraska has long opposed the use of public funds for private education. Adding this amendment raises our concerns from solely education policy to concerns regarding respect for and representation of the people of Nebraska. Simply, let the people vote.

Rachel Gibson, Omaha, action vice president, League of Women Voters of Nebraska

 

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https://journalstar.com/opinion/letters/letter-restore-voting-rights-faster/article_13b56474-de80-11ee-ac95-1b244d4ae0fc.html

Letter: Restore voting rights faster

Lincoln Journal Star

Mar 11, 2024

The League of Women Voters has been a staunch and vocal advocate for voting rights since its inception more than 100 years ago. The League of Women Voters of Lincoln-Lancaster County strongly supports passage of LB20 to eliminate the two-year waiting period before voting rights are restored to former felons.

The former felons have completed the entirety of their sentences, including probation/parole and/or fines. They have served their time. They are entitled to their full rights as citizens of our state including the right to vote. There’s nothing magical about the two-year waiting period. It was a compromise in 2005 for the legislation to move forward at that time.

LB20 eliminates that two-year waiting period, contributing to quicker integration back into society, (assuming the former felons meet other general voting-related requirements including age and citizenship).

Once they are former felons, these individuals are expected to be employed, pay taxes, contribute to their communities, etc. They should not have to wait two years to have a voice in our representative government.

Additionally, convicted felons in Nebraska are disproportionally from communities of color and/or low incomes. Those communities are again negatively impacted when these individuals are precluded from their civic duty for two additional years.

We commend Sen. Justin Wayne for introducing LB20 last session, and Sen. Jane Raybould for designating LB20 as her priority bill this session. We urge their colleagues to pass this legislation into law. It’s the right thing to do in a just democracy.

Jean McGuire, Lincoln, vice president of the League of Women Voters of Lincoln-Lancaster County

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See the March 5 Journal-Star article Northwest joins other LPS high schools in hosting a voter registration drive: https://journalstar.com/news/local/education/northwest-joins-other-lps-high-schools-in-hosting-a-voter-registration-drive/article_2831ec34-da47-11ee-9e48-3fe5caa1644f.html

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Right to Vote on Opportunity Scholarship Act Repeal Referendum is in Jeopardy

On Oct. 20, 2023, Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen announced he certified the referendum petition for LB 753 (Opportunity Scholarship Act), and it would be on the Nebraska ballot in November 2024. Certification means election officials confirmed that petition circulators met all constitutional requirements.

In early January, state Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (Elkhorn), the author of LB 753, asked Secretary Evnen to reconsider his certification and remove the issue from the November ballot. Linehan’s argument is that the Nebraska Constitution reserves the power to set and raise revenues expressly for the Legislature. Evnen has not rendered his decision as yet.

In reponse to Linehan’s action, the Lincoln-Lancaster County League of Women Voters submitted a public statement in a Letter to the Editor, which appeared in the Lincoln (Nebr.) Journal Star on January 18, 2024, page A7:

Voters deserve say on issue

The League of Women Voters has steadfastly championed public education and the principle that public dollars require public oversight in accordance with state and federal laws. In June 2023, Nebraska state and local Leagues partnered with Support Our Schools Nebraska on a successful referendum petition drive, amassing more than 117,000 signatures to place the repeal of the Opportunity Scholarships Act (LB753) on the November 2024 ballot.

In October, Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen validated 91,861 signatures and certified the petition for the ballot. The recent move by the bill’s author, state Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, threatens the essence of our democratic process.

Linehan contends the Nebraska Constitution exclusively reserves the power to set and raise revenues for the Legislature, thus nullifying the collective voice of 91,861 Nebraska citizens.

This blatant attempt to undermine the referendum process, a fundamental right of our citizen voters to check and balance legislative decisions, is an affront to democracy. Linehan’s plea to Evnen to reconsider certification jeopardizes a sacred Nebraska democratic principle that allows our taxpayers/voters to decide the fate of LB753.

We taxpayers/voters — those whom Linehan, Evnen, Gov. Jim Pillen, and countless others are entrusted to serve — may find our voices stifled in November. This is not just an attack on the repeal referendum; it is an assault on our constitutional rights in Nebraska.

We call on our fellow citizens to stand united in defense of our democratic values, urging Evnen to uphold the certification, thus letting the voters exercise their constitutional right in November.

Signed,
Cynthia Peterson, president of League of Women Voters-Lincoln/Lancaster County, Lincoln

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Renew your membership today!

Please renew your membership in the League of Women Voters Lincoln and Lancaster County! Our membership year runs from April 1 to March 31. The 2023-2024 memberships expire March 31st. The League is non-partisan and does not support or oppose candidates nor political parties. We strive to increase understanding of public policy issues and to increase voter participation in elections.

There are two ways you can renew your membership:

    • Online at https://lincolnleague.org/join-us
    • OR download the form from the web site, print it, add your information, and mail it along with your check ($50 per person and $10 for students or a second person in the same household) to:
      League of Women Voters of Lincoln Lancaster County
      P.O. Box 5054
      Lincoln, NE 68505

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LWVLL Annual General Meeting Save the Date: The Annual General Meeting is Saturday morning, April 20, 2024 in Lincoln. More details to come.

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Lincoln Coalition Wants to End Source of Income-Based Discrimination Faced by Many Renters

The League of Women Voters of Lincoln/Lancaster County, alongside 13 community organizations and 514 individuals, strongly advocates for the introduction and passing of a Lincoln city ordinance. This ordinance aims to prevent source-of-income discrimination against potential renters relying on housing vouchers, disability benefits, etc., to contribute to their rent payments.

On December 18, 2023, member organizations and community advocates gathered outside the City/County building at 5 PM in a show of support for the proposed ordinance during a news conference. Jean McGuire, VP for Action, and Cynthia Peterson, President, represented LWVLL.

During the news conference, Kasey Ogle, senior staff attorney for Collective Impact, highlighted the damaging impact of source-of-income discrimination on Lincoln’s housing crisis and its contribution to racial inequalities within our community. Ogle emphasized, ‘Rental assistance is a vital resource for low-income families striving for stability and an escape from poverty’s cycle. Unfortunately, Lincoln lacks safeguards, enabling landlords to reject tenants solely based on their rent payment method. Ending source-of-income discrimination is crucial to provide a baseline protection for those diligently working to improve their lives.’

While 23 states and 134 cities have successfully implemented legislation prohibiting source-of-income discrimination, Nebraska has yet to follow suit.

After the press conference, supporters reconvened in the City Council chambers. In the council’s public comment session, a petition endorsing the new ordinance, signed by over 500 individuals, was formally presented. Multiple advocates voiced strong support for this ordinance, sharing poignant stories of individuals enduring housing struggles.

The City Council holds the next course of action, with their next meeting scheduled after January 1, 2024. LWVLL members are encouraged to express their opinions to their City Council representatives about the proposed ordinance.

See https://www.lincoln.ne.gov/City/City-Council/Council-Members

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The Lincoln League welcomes 28 new members!

The League of Women Voters of Lincoln/Lancaster County has welcomed 28 new members so far in 2023. We are excited they chose to contribute their time, energy and talents to our nonpartisan, grassroots organization as we work together to protect and expand voting rights, and ensure everyone is represented in our democracy. Our new members are: Ann J., Barbara A., Bethany A., Bob E., Christine M., Cinnamon D., Constance K., Dylan C., Heather S., Heidi U., Judith K., Kathryn B., Lauren C., Leslie R., Marianne D., Martha H., Maureen H., Melanie L., Oliva B., Pamela E., Patricia B., Rachel K., Richard D., Scott L., Sophie W., Susan U., Thomas B. and Zita S.

If this sounds like a worthwhile use of your time, click the ‘Join’ tab on this page to learn more about membership in the League of Women Voters of Lincoln/Lancaster County.

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League of Women Voters Lunch & Learn – Solving the Climate Challenge 

The event was on Thursday, Dec. 7th from noon to 1:00 PM. 

The December League of Women Voters Lunch & Learn welcomes the Citizens’ Climate Lobby to its continuing series on issues affecting Nebraskans all across the state. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a non-partisan, volunteer organization empowering everyday people to work together on climate policy.  Supporters of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby are organized in 420 chapter around the U.S., with three chapter in Nebraska: Lincoln, Omaha, and Chadron. The presentation will address priority climate solutions and how to engage in climate advocacy.  The speaker is  Becky Seth, co-leader of the Lincoln league. Before retirement, she was head naturalist at Pioneers Park Nature Center. Seth is a member of the Mayor’s Resilient Lincoln Roundtable and the Coalition for Environmental Improvement. 

Becky Seth – Citizens’ Climate Lobby

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Speaker Becki Gaston-Wise and LWVLL president Cynthia Peterson.

Lincoln LWV members learn more about the implications and procedures associated with Nebraska’s new Voter ID law from Becki Gaston-Wise, Lancaster County Deputy Election Commissioner.

For More Information:  http://ne.gov/go/votercheck and http://lancaster.ne.gov/election 

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Things to know about Nebraska Voter ID:

About 35 League of Women Voters of Lincoln-Lancaster County members, guests and others got an early look at identification requirements for Nebraska registered voters, effective April 1, 2024. Becki Gaston-Wise, Deputy Election Commissioner for Lancaster County, was the keynote speaker at the League’s fall meeting, November 2, 2023 at Walt Public Library.

Gaston-Wise shared that the majority of Nebraska’s registered voters already possess accepted Voter ID in the form of a Nebraska driver’s license or state-issued ID card. IDs issued by the federal government, including a U.S. passport, are acceptable, as are photo IDs issued by any post-secondary institution in Nebraska. There are other acceptable IDs as well.

Popular types of IDs that are NOT accepted include out-of-state driver’s licenses; state IDs or postsecondary IDs; IDs from private organizations, or any ID without a photo, such as a Social Security card.

Key to remember is the new Voter ID law does NOT change Nebraska’s existing voter
registration process. If you are already a registered voter in Nebraska, you do NOT need to
register again. The primary on May 14, 2024, will be the first Nebraska election under this
new Voter ID law.

For More Information Please Visit:  http://ne.gov/go/votercheck and http://lancaster.ne.gov/election

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Volunteer to be a Lancaster County Poll Worker

Learn how you can volunteer with the League of Women Voters

Click here to register to vote online!