Making Democracy Work


The League's Study Process

"Program" The League's "program" consists of those governmental issues that the League has chosen for concerted study and action, or advocacy, at the national, state or local level. The program process is specified in the bylaws and includes the following steps:
  • Formal adoption (by members at an annual meeting or by state/national convention delegates) of an issue for study.
  • Member study and agreement on broad concepts.
  • Formulation of a position by the appropriate board of directors based on results of the study.
  • Action as directed by the board of directors.
  • Annual or biennial re-adoption of the position.

Local Leagues may work simultaneously on local, state, national program issues but action may be taken only in those areas where there is member understanding and agreement based on the study process. Local Leagues can act based on positions developed after study at the national or state level. State Leagues may act based on positions they develop from their own studies or from those conducted by the LWVUS.

Studies and Program Adoption

League program arises from the suggestions of members. At every level of the League, the board of directors is responsible for reviewing and discussing these suggestions, formulating them in appropriate language, and recommending all or some of them for adoption.

A local League's "action" or advocacy program is determined by members at its annual meeting; state and national programs are voted upon by delegates at state and national League conventions. In the course of the program adoption discussion, members often give suggestions to the board on scope of inquiry, timing, emphasis and ways to handle the study and/or action phases.

Reaching Member Agreement

Before the League can take action, members must agree in broad terms on what they think about various aspects of the policy issue. The nature of the issue will affect how it is studied and how positions are reached. The board usually selects the method to be used: consensus (where agreement is reached using League responses to specific questions) or concurrence (where agreement or a vote is required on a pre-stated position such as one developed by a different League based on its own study).

The technique most often used in the League for reaching member agreement is consensus by group discussion. It is not a simple majority, nor is it unanimity; rather it is the overall sense of the group as expressed through the exchange of ideas and opinions, whether in a meeting of the full membership or a series of smaller discussion meetings.

Regardless of the method used, it is essential that members have an opportunity to become informed before being asked to make decisions on the issue under consideration. It is through this process that League members become educated on a given issue, and this is what makes subsequent League action on that issue uniquely credible and respected.

During the study phase, the study committee prepares background information, there may be public forums to educate the public and seek input, and members have an opportunity to examine the facts and key pro/con points. They are encouraged to discuss the political realities of action and to contribute ideas for the board to consider when it formulates an action strategy after a position is reached.

If the League has a position on a given issue, action can be taken as appropriate. The issue does not need to be studied each time action is thought to be necessary.

LWV NCC Studies

Climate Change Study The Climate Change Subcommittee of the Energy Committee of the LWV NCC initiated the Climate Change study described below under "LWVDE Studies."

Energy Study. The Energy Committee of the LWV NCC initiated the two-year statewide study described below.

Land Use/Transportation Study The Land Use/Transportation Committee of the LWV NCC initiated the Land Use/Transportation study described below under "LWVDE Studies." This was a two-year study.

LWVDE Studies

State Revenue Sources Study The LWV DE has recently initiated a study of State Revenue Sources. This study will focus on:
  • understanding Delaware's current funding sources (some of which rely on out of state businesses and individuals) and their relative importance to the state budget;
  • examining the criteria used by several other state Leagues in doing revenue studies (adequate yield, equity/fairness, compatibility with state social and environmental policy, cost effective administration, elasticity/natural growth, benefit/fairness, simplicity, public acceptance, compatibility and links with federal policy, competitive business climate);
  • the process used by Delaware to estimate future revenues for budgeting purposes (Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council--usually known as DEFAC); and
  • evaluating possibilities for enhancing Delaware's revenue profile.

To assist with this project, contact Margaret (Mickey) McKay, Study Coordinator.

Climate Change Study
Chad TolmanIn March of 2011 the blue ribbon Climate Change Subcommittee of the Energy Committee presented informational materials and led consensus discussions in the three counties. Chad Tolman chaired this effort. Following the State Board's approval of the consensus positions Chad received support from state leaders in the environmental community to support this consensus in a request to the Governor to establish by Executive Order a carbon dioxide reduction plan and a target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This request is still pending. See this document for background information on the Climate Change study. The consensus included the following positions: The League of Women Voters of Delaware supports an aggressive and comprehensive energy use/climate change plan for Delaware. Some key points that should be included:

  • Accelerate bringing new green businesses, jobs and industries to Delaware, and investigate emerging energy technologies.
  • Set targets and a timetable for reducing Delaware's total greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Plan for extensive adaptation measures at all levels of government for climate change impacts that cannot be avoided---especially sea level rise.
  • Support public education and outreach; expand renewable energy and climate change in Delaware curriculum standards.
  • As Delaware calculates energy costs, full life cycle analyses with all externalities must be included.
  • Social and economic justice must be considered in implementing energy and climate change policy.

To read the League's official climate change position click here . Members of the Subcommittee were John Austin, Chris Bason, Sumner Crosby, Mary Anne Edwards, Steve Hegedus, Peggy Schultz and Chad Tolman.

Energy Study. In 2009 the statewide Energy Committee traveled to the three Delaware counties with information on energy issues, followed by a series of meetings the next year to gather consensus on the issues. Here you see Brian Kramer Brian Kramer talking to the group in New Castle County in 2009. Mary Anne Edwards introduced each speaker. You can see her in the background, while Chad Tolman is taking notes in the foreground. Click here for the final positions which now help to direct League energy lobbying efforts before the State Legislature. Positions resulting from the study include:

  • Supports an increase in the percentage of renewable energy sources in Delaware's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) provided that they: a) have minimum environmental impact; b) use the best current technology as measured by reliability, proven effectiveness, and being state-of-the-art; c) have long range cost effectiveness including all net costs such as health and environmental costs, state and federal subsidies, and price stability.
  • Supports measures ensuring that total electricity sales in Delaware be required to meet the RPS. Regarding Transmission and Distribution, the League of Women Voters of Delaware supports:
  • Maximizing the development and delivery of renewable energy to Delaware when designing and developing new transmission plans for the region.
  • In addition to delivering reliable, adequate electric service to Delaware, the key factors to be considered in making a decision on any transmission plan/transmission enhancements are: a) Degree of environmental impact; b) Degree of utilization of the transmission for renewable resource power vs. fossil-fuel generated power; c) True cost, including all cost-externalities; d) Safety and security of the grid.

For detailed background information on the energy study, see this document . Committee members included Mary Anne Edwards, Lorraine Fleming, Brian Kramer, Lisa Pertzoff, Peggy Schultz, John Sykes, Pat Todd and Chad Tolman.

Land Use/Transportation Study In the spring of 2011 the Land Use/Transportation Committee--with active participation from two Sussex County members--presented to all three counties a powerpoint summary of their findings on the relation of carbon dioxide emissions to land use and transportation. These consensus meetings followed two years of study which included interviews with county and metropolitan planning organization planners, elected officials from all three counties and the Director of the Office of State Planning Coordination. The consensus resulted in support for the following positions:

  • Direct development towards growth zones, except for environmentally sensitive areas within those growth zones; assure availability of infrastructure, services and walkability before developing.
  • Build compact, or dense, development within established development areas in which pedestrians can safely and conveniently access services.
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled.
  • Modify Delaware's paratransit fee schedule to establish separate classifications for ADA and non-ADA service. Reform the system to establish fairer pricing for non-ADA paratransit use. Tighten eligibility requirements for all paratransit use in situations where the state has discretion.
  • Establish a dedicated funding stream for public transit; explore a variety of funding sources.

For background information and the position statement, see this Consensus document for Land Use/Transportation. Committee members included Pat Brill, Jane Dilley, Betty Hutchinson, June MacArtor, Margo Perkins, Marge Purcell, Peggy Schultz, Esther Shelton, Sandy Spence, Laura Swiski, Pat Todd.

LWVUS Studies

Agriculture Study The national chapter of the League of Women Voters are preparing a study to focus on several agricultural related topics. The Agriculture Update will focus narrowly on:

1) current technology issues in agriculture including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), herbicides, pesticides, agriculture water pollution, aquifer depletion, antibiotics in livestock, and accurate food labeling; and

2) current agriculture finance issues including consolidation in agriculture industries, crop subsidies and the federal agricultural regulatory process.

To view a timeline and for more information, please click here.

Two studies were completed in 2012:

The Federal Role in Education The LWVUS Board approved a new Education position at the March 2012 (March 25, 2012) Board meeting. Click here for more information.

Privatization A second study identified parameters and policy issues to be considered in connection with proposals to transfer federal, state or local government services, assets and/or functions to the private sector. Click here for more information.

Suggested readings:

"Government Privatization: History, Examples, and Issues,"< prepared by the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (2006)
Paul Starr, The Meaning of Privatization, Yale Law and Policy Review 6 (1988): 6-41.
General Accounting Office, Privatization: Lessons Learned by State & Local Governments (1997). Includes a glossary of terms.
Privatization: A Seattle League Study. (2009)