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LWVMD Voter's Digest - January 2018

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. — Oprah Winfrey
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I love the beginning of a new year – we have a fresh start and new energy to make a difference as leaders for the League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County.

The year begins with an important educational program, our Legislative Briefing & Brunch, Saturday, January 20, 2018, 10:30 a.m. at the Center for Social Change, 2103 Coral Way. RSVP on our Facebook Event Page. Bring your friends, family, and neighbors to learn about the important issues for this legislative session and how your advocacy efforts can have an impact. We have our own LWVMD subject matter experts, along with members of our Dade Delegation, Senators and Representatives presenting. Start 2018 by getting informed so you can take meaningful action!

This is the time of year when advocacy kicks into high gear with the Florida Legislature in session. We will be publishing weekly LWV Florida (LWVFL) Capitol Reports on our blog.

There will be times during the session when you will receive an Action Alert asking that you contact your legislator to take action on specific legislation. Those phone calls and emails, fielded usually by legislative staff, matter! Staff members report the number of calls for or against a particular issue. It's part of our core mission to advocate on vital issues such as election reform, gun safety, public education, environment, and healthcare.

LWVFL will be holding its annual Legislative Summit in Tallahassee on February 6 – 7, and LWVMD will be represented with our largest delegation ever. Along with our VP of Advocacy, Maria Garcia, I will be leading the delegation, which includes members Lucia Baez, Madison Berndt, Maggie Fernandez, Eileen Higgins, Dorrit Marks, Barbara Overton, Barbara Pierce, Ibis Valdes, and Marisol Zenteno. We will be learning about the LWVFL’s state priorities, advocating our positions to legislators, and hosting two press conferences!

To prepare and organize our local delegation, we will hold a pre-summit briefing the morning of February 3, led by our own former Florida legislator and past president, Annie Betancourt. If you are interested in attending, let me know by January 10 to sign up.

I am especially thrilled to announce our 2018 Election Action Team! The 2018 Elections will be critical for races at ALL levels of government; there will be several State Constitutional Amendments as well as County Charter Amendments.

Because democracy functions best when the electorate is informed and votes, LWVMD will be front and center throughout the year. We'll be educating voters on the issues, publishing candidates’ positions, publicizing election deadlines, as well as leading voter registration and Get Out the Vote activities. In short, we will be there for the Miami-Dade voters who consistently turn to the League at election time for the nonpartisan information.

If you have been wondering what you can do to really make a difference, THIS IS IT! Join our 2018 Election Action Team and volunteer in any way your schedule allows!

We are down to the wire for the Second Chances Restoration of Voting Rights Campaign. Petitions are in the process of being counted and verified. At the time of writing, we have more than 640,000 verified! Thank you to everyone who signed one as well as those who helped us get signatures. Every petition counts, and we look forward to the possibility of getting this important issue on the 2018 Florida ballot.

If you have any signed petitions, please mail them ASAP to Floridians for a Fair Democracy, 3000 Gulf-to-Bay Road, #503, Clearwater, FL, 33759.

We are excited to partner with the CLEO Institute on the Climate-Conscious Voter Campaign, which will engage voters to make climate change a top priority in Florida. The CLEO Institute will conduct Climate Change 101 on Saturday morning, February 24, to educate LWVMD members on the causes and effects of global warming, the Earth’s current vital signs, the impact of climate change on South Florida, and effective steps we can take to reduce our carbon footprint. Check out our website and Facebook page in the coming weeks for more information.

LWVMD will hold its annual Women That Shine event Saturday, March 17, 10:30 a.m., at the Sonesta Coconut Grove, where we will recognize outstanding women role models who have had a meaningful impact on our community.

We are thrilled to announce that Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is the recipient of our Lifetime Achievement Award. Breaking numerous glass ceilings, Representative Ros-Lehtinen was the first Cuban-American and Latina to be elected to the U.S. Congress, serving as Chairman Emeritus on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the first Republican woman to be elected to the Florida House. She has been a fearless and strong voice during her decades of public service to South Florida.

LWVMD members are welcome to nominate a woman to be recognized as a 2018 Woman That Shines by submitting a nomination.

The County Charter Review Task Force will be wrapping up in a few weeks and releasing its report. Our Board will be attending the last meeting on Monday, February 12. It is essential for LWVMD to have a presence at this meeting – we are one of the very few community representatives that have attended every meeting. We have advocated for several positions, most notably to simplify the citizen petition process.

Many of you joined us a year ago at this time, and your memberships will be renewing. We have upgraded our PayWhirl system, which will now advise you three days in advance that your dues will be renewed automatically. To update your information, please log in to your account on our website.

Your dues help fund our election and voting services, as well as educational programming and communication platforms to inform you, our many partners, and our community on important issues. When the notice comes, we are counting on you to say “Yes! I renew!” Your support and your voice are essential to continue our work.

If you have any issues or questions about your LWVMD membership, please email Membership Chair Faith Grant or call us at (786) 309-3378.

January 8, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m | LWVMD Board Meeting
Our meetings are open to all members and all prospective members; we welcome your ideas and input!
Location: Center for Social Change, 2103 Coral Way, 2nd Floor, Coral Gables

January 17, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. | Solar Information Session
Live in Western Miami-Dade and want to go solar? Now's your chance!
Location: Rebeca Sosa Theater, Miami Springs

January 20, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | 2018 Legislative Briefing & Brunch
Learn about our priority issues for this year’s session – election reform, public education, gun safety, protecting our environment, and healthcare.
Location: Center for Social Change, 2103 Coral Way, Coral Gables

January 23, 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. | Florida City Biannual Election
Find your polling station here.
Location: Florida City

SAVE THE DATE - Saturday, March 17, 2018 - Women That Shine Brunch
Our annual celebration of Women’s History Month, when we recognize local women leaders who are amazing role models and have made a difference in this community.
Location: Sonesta Coconut Grove, 2889 McFarlane Road, Miami

In closing, I realize that we are all volunteers with busy lives and that each of us only has so much time to give. Yet we are also deeply committed to fostering a vibrant democracy, an engaged electorate, and informed voters. So I am asking you to renew your membership, pay your dues, and get involved with the League! We all know the world is run by people who show up, and that’s exactly what the League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County does.

See you Saturday, January 20 and always In League,