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LWVMD Voter's Digest - March 2018

History is made by people: Its movement depends on small currents as well as great tides. — Margaret Thatcher
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I should be leading with so many wonderful reports – and there are many – but I cannot possibly write about those without first discussing the horrific tragedy at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Fourteen students and three faculty members—all wonderful, amazing people—were murdered by a young man with an AR-15, a weapon designed for mass killing in war. The surviving students are organizing and have begun a movement. I believe, as do many of you, that this time may be different and they will have an impact.

LWVFL, the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, and the students of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas are working feverishly to secure action in gun safety legislation, specifically:
  1. Ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines.
  2. Enact background checks on private gun sales to close the current loophole on gun shows.
  3. Support hardening of school structures but strongly oppose to any arming of teachers. They do not have the tactical training to respond to an active shooter, nor should they be expected to undergo such training. We applaud Gov. Scott for taking this position as well.
  4. Support judicial gun violence restraining orders to remove guns based on requests from family members, relatives, or custodians who believe a person poses a threat to him/herself or others.
  5. Age limits and waiting periods do not address the root cause of mass shooting violence: access to assault rifles and large capacity magazines that cause significant bodily harm.
What can you do? Three vital things right now:
  1. Call and email your Florida Senator and Representative and ask them to enact legislation addressing the five points above.
  2. Sign the petition to Florida legislators and Governor Scott to ban military assault rifles and large capacity magazines.
  3. Sign the petition urging the Florida Constitution Revision Commission to let Florida voters decide on a ban on assault weapons by placing an amendment for this purpose on the November 2018 ballot.

And while we are talking about contacting your elected officials in Tallahassee, be sure to add that LWVFL and LWVMD do NOT support HB 7055. This is one of the worst bills ever—it does nothing more than to dismantle our public school system. There are many provisions in this almost 200-page bill, but by far the worst is that the bill (proposed by House Speaker, Richard Corcoran) holds hostage the annual funding needed by each public school district around the State for supporting this bill. In essence, it says: “Support this bill or no budget for your school system.” We want to let our legislators to vote NO on HB 7055. Read more about the impact of the bill.

Tallahassee can be a pretty frustrating place, but February 6 – 7, more than 200 LWV members descended on the Capitol and made our voices heard! You were well represented by our largest-ever delegation. We visited more than 60 percent of our Dade Delegation, participated in legislative briefings, assembled on the steps of the Old Capitol for two press conferences, and received THREE awards from the LWVFL recognizing our work! These honors recognized our petition effort to restore voting rights led by Marisol Zenteno, our solar co-ops, and—LWVFL's top statewide award—the Awesome Advocacy award to Maggie Fernandez for our Miami Forever Campaign and Voter Guide, which resulted in the passage of the $400 Million Bond Program.

While we were working in Tallahassee, Board Members Annie Betancourt and Deanna Kirtman led the charge with the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). The CRC has put forth proposals that serve to restrict our rights, not expand them. Annie and Deanna gave testimony against the proposals to ignore our strong Home Rule for local control, as well as additional proposals that attack our public schools, our rights to privacy, tax reform, immigration, and the rights of citizens to amend the constitution. The final proposals will be decided in May and they will go directly to the ballot. We will continue our advocacy efforts with the CRC as we prepare for the General Election. Stay tuned!

We all know that this election year is the probably one of the most important! It will include a full ballot of candidates and amendments, including Amendment 4 for Restoration of Voting Rights. Our 2018 Election Team is organizing now. If you want to be part of making a difference, there is plenty to do. This election is truly all hands on deck!

We’ll be working on voter registration, voter education activities (including compiling voter guides for municipal elections throughout the county), expanding our list of partners to GOTV (Get Out the Vote!), voting parties, student voting events, and much more. There is a job for everyone, no matter how much or little time you have, whether at an event, at your computer, or on the phone. We need you, all of you! This is the time you say YES! For more information on how you can help, please contact Marisol Zenteno or Ibis Valdes.

March is Women’s History Month and LWVMD celebrates with Women That Shine! This year our event is sure to be a sellout with the stellar list of honorees and brunch at the beautiful Sonesta Coconut Grove. Buy your tickets now to be sure you have a seat!

Our honorees are Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whom we are presenting with a Lifetime Achievement Award; Andrea Mercado, Executive Director, New Florida Majority; Melba Pearson, Deputy Director, ACLU Florida; and Dr. Judy Schaechter, Professor and Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. A new category this year is recognition of an initiative that addresses an important issue, and we are proud that the first such award will go to the Equal Pay Miami-Dade Campaign led by The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade.

While we are promoting this fabulous event, we are also asking for sponsors and advertisers; we would love to place your name and company in our program, so please see our sponsorship packages for more details.

Our Nomination Committee is taking your nominations to serve on our Board for the 2018-2019 program year! This is one of the few organizations in Miami where you can get involved with an issue, learn to advocate, engage voters to participate in government, have an impact, and maybe prepare to launch your own candidacy for office. If you really want to get involved, then join our Board! You can nominate yourself or others. Please fill out an application and send to info@lwvmiamidade.org

Our February Board meeting went to the County Charter Task Force Review to weigh in on the draft report. After weeks of attending and providing our input, our recommendation for citizen petition drives was included. Specifically, we urged that the Charter be amended for citizen charter petition drives, requiring that the legal sufficiency of the ballot language is approved before petitions are gathered!

Lastly, on February 24, the CLEO Institute conducted a workshop for LWVMD on the causes and effects of climate change and what we can do about it. The institute's Caroline Lewis explained the impact of carbon dioxide emissions on climate change and the importance of reducing our individual carbon footprints wherever possible. She also clarified the various ways in which climate change is an element of virtually every societal issue, from national security and the economy to immigration and water safety. We will keep you updated on these themes and related LWVMD initiatives.

LWVMD is working hard on the issues that matter to all of us, our schools, our safety, our natural resources, our voting rights, our healthcare. Our work empowers voters and protects our democracy. You need us, and we need you, too. So please become a member and/or renew your membership, attend our events, make a donation in any amount you can afford, and play an active role in the 2018 Election Team!

Thanks for all you do and see you soon!
In League,

Thursday, March 8, 7:30 - 9:30 p.m. | 3rd Annual International Women's Day
Get involved and meet the people and organizations fighting for Women's Rights in the Workplace including Economic Security, Childcare/Maternity Leave, Leadership Development, Access to Healthcare, Sexual Harassment. Our President, Susan Windmiller will be speaking.
Location: Miami Beach JCC, 4221 Pine Tree Drive, Miami Beach

Monday, March 12, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. | LWVMD Board Meeting
Bring fresh ideas and learn about different ways you can get involved by attending our monthly Board meetings held on the 2nd Mondays of every month.
Location: Center for Social Change, 2103 Coral Way, 2nd Floor, Miami

Wednesday, March 14, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. | Solar Information Session
Live in Miami-Dade County and want to go solar? Now's your chance, anyone who lives in Miami-Dade County can participate!
Location: Miami Dade College - Hialeah Campus, 1780 W 49th Street, Hialeah

Thursday, March 15, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. | Solar Information Session
Live in Miami-Dade County and want to go solar? Now's your chance, anyone who lives in Miami-Dade County can participate!
Location: 17051 NE 19th Ave, North Miami Beach

Saturday, March 17, 2018 - Women That Shine Brunch
In honor of Women’s History Month, please join us for our 4th Annual Women That Shine celebration, get your tickets today!
Location: Sonesta Coconut Grove, 2889 McFarlane Road, Miami

Tuesday, March 20, 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. | Surfside Miami General Election
Check out our Voter’s Guide before you head to the polls.
Location: Surfside Town Hall Commission Chambers, 9293 Harding Avenue

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