The League of Women Voters of Iowa takes action on an issue only when we have a position addressing that particular issue. If the members have not studied and come to consensus on an issue, the League has no position and therefore does not have a stand on that issue.
Our positions are divided into three areas:
- Fiscal Policy
- Human Services
- Natural Resources
Each Legislative Session we also adopt Legislative Priorities after extensive review of existing state and national positions in recognition of the interdependence among public policy issues. The review identifies common themes and examines potential competition among the goals of the positions to formulate an integrated approach.
How We Form Positions
Studies (whether national, state, or local) are a defined process lasting one to three years, during which we undertake thorough pursuit of facts and details, both positive and negative. Study committee members fashion consensus questions that are then asked of the membership as part of a study kit. Consensus is the overall decision-making process by which substantial agreement among members is reached on an issue. If the members reach consensus, the board forms positions based on that consensus. It is the consensus statement - the statement resulting from the consensus questions - that becomes a "position." Firm action can then be taken on the particular issue addressed by the position. Without a position, action can not be taken on that issue.
How We Take Action
To reach (the League’s aim), study is not enough, becoming experts is not enough. Good citizenship requires not only knowledge but ability to act.
- Marguerite Wells, President, League of Women Voters 1934-44
With the assistance of a lobbyist the Leagues at all levels take action. This action is always based on current program positions and/or on League Principles. Positions are developed based on member study and consensus. We have many positions, and many opportunities to act, so how does the LWVIA board determine when to take action on state legislation and statewide ballot measures, and on which items?
Requests for Action
Recommendations and requests for action on issues – bills before the legislature, potential ballot measures – come from a variety of sources. Local Leagues or League members can request that the LWVIA look at a potential piece of legislation for action. Legislators sponsoring a bill can request League endorsement of a bill. Other groups working in a particular area can ask that the League join them in endorsing a bill or ballot measure. Or, most commonly, we simply are following legislation in a particular area closely, and find something that we want to speak to.
Recommendations for action on legislation and ballot measures are considered by the LWVIA
LWVIA President, and Advocacy person in consultation with the Board and the leagues Lobbyist.
Some of the criteria that the board use in determining whether to take action on a particular issue are:
- League positions, including previous League action
- What does the League’s voice add to the debate on this?
- What will happen if the League does not speak?
Frequently, the League has multiple positions covering a single measure, and the Legislation Committee must balance these positions together – and sometimes against each other. At other times, the League supports a part of a measure, but doesn’t like another part, so we must weigh the importance of the supported portion against that of the non-supported portion. All of these factors weigh in the board discussions.
For ballot measures , what else is on the ballot for this election is also a question that enters into the discussion, not necessarily about whether or not we would take a position, but as we decide when we might take that position, and how strongly we will be involved in a campaign.
For more information:
League of Women Voters US, Impact on Issues, 2008-2009
League of Women Voters US, League Basics