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The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

LWVMI Offers to Host Gubernatorial Debate Negotiations

LANSING + The League of Women Voters of Michigan today announced its president has extended an offer to the campaigns of Gov. Rick Snyder and Congressman Mark Schauer to convene a meeting with the goal of negotiating a debate schedule.

"I'd like to do what I can to help bring debates between our gubernatorial candidates to Michigan voters so they can make an informed decision on Election Day," said Susan Smith, President of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. "I believe that sitting down at a table together to discuss dates, times, moderators and formats for televised debates will be productive and have a positive outcome that will benefit Michigan voters, as well as Gov. Snyder and Congressman Schauer."

Smith this week sent a letter to the campaign managers for Snyder and Schauer requesting that the two sides come together for a meeting. The League of Women Voters of Michigan is a nonpartisan organization that encourages informed and active participation in government by citizens. That core belief includes ensuring that voters are educated about candidates and issues before heading to the polls on Election Day.

Smith offered three dates and times for a meeting in early September to take place at the League's office in Lansing.

Smith said: "Voters will see a lot of political ads from all sides between now and Election Day. Debates will help voters cut through the rhetoric and get to hear from the candidates in their own words and more fully understand where they stand on important issues. The League is willing to help in any way it can to facilitate debates."

And Local Debates?

LWVBCC has heard from most of the candidates about willingness and availability to debate, but expects to hear from Congressman Upton and Senator Proos on September 8. Three invitations have been sent followed up with phone calls.

Many candidates do not understand the importance of candidate forums. As Stephen Henderson put it in the Detroit Free Press debates "are the best option for voters to get an unfiltered view of the people asking for their support".

The schedule will be published as soon as it is firmed up.

NEWS ALERT: LWVBCC Awarded Pokagon Grant!

LWVBCC was notified that it received a grant in August from the Pokagon Fund for the purchase of video recording equipment. This equipment will be used to record candidate forums; then these recordings will be posted on the internet. More voters will thereby be able to view the candidates performance "live" as they answer unscripted questions from the League and the audience.

The recording equipment will also be used to record various League presentations for later viewing by interested parties.

Many thanks to the Pokagon Fund for not only providing the funding for the purchase of this equipment, but also for recognizing the importance of getting candidate information out to the voters "live". It makes a difference to hear and see the candidates in a forum situation.

LWVMI Action Alert on Wolf Initiative Petition-FINAL UPDATE

August 27: The Michigan House joined the Senate in voting to approve the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management petition (IL 2). They also added an appropriation so the bill is "referendum-prook". Supporters of the action said groups like the Humane Society were intending to eliminate all hunting and this was just the start. Hunting is now safe, including hunting of wolves, until recently an endangered species. The legislators did not vote for "immediate effect" so wold hunting will be deferred until fall 2015.

There were a few cross overs, but mainly the legislators voted along party lines.

The League has no position on the hunting of wolves, but we are concerned about the process whereby ballot initiatives are voted on by the Legislature before the election. The Michigan constitution allows the Legislature to do this within 40 days of receiving the initiative petition, but in voting an initiative petition into law the Legislature pre-empts the right of the voters to vote on the issue, whatever it may be. Two other twists: The governor has no authority to veto the new bill and if the Legislature adds any appropriation, as they do here, it means the bill is not subject to any future referenda.

The Legislature has done this pre-emptive passage of initiative petitions a number of times recently (most recently on the minimum wage).

There is an good Associated Press article on the many aspects of this issue that appeared in numerous state newspapers recently.

Rich Robinson Wows at Campaign Finance Meeting

As Debra Haight of the Herald Palladium put it in the title of her article on Rich's Robinson's presentation-- "Sunshine Scarce in Campaign Financing".

On Wednesday, July 16 at the Vickers Theatre campaign finance expert Rich Robinson talked about "Dark Money and the Future of Politics". It is not a pretty picture, as the very rich and influential have found numerous ways to fund campaign spending in the shadows. Rich, Executive Director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, spends much of his time trying to figure out who is spending the money, why, and how. A lot of campaign spending is not subject to public disclosure. This makes it particularly pernicious, especially in judicial elections.

League Holds District 59 GOP Candidates Forum

The League of Women Voters and four co-sponsors (Leader Publications, Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce, Dowagiac Rotary and Delta Kappa Gamma Society International) held a forum for the four Republican candidates running to replace Matt Lori as state representative. Mr. Lori is term limited and in that situation there is often a large field.

The four candidates are John Bippus, Aaron Miller, Roger Rathburn and Bob Sills. The winner in the primary will face Democrat Mike Moroz in the November general election.

District 59 includes Cass and St. Joseph counties.

Read the Leader Publications article on the forum.

Listen to a recording of the forum on PodBean. Sorry the recording is no longer available.

Updated Vote411 Available Now for Primary Find the facts about voting in Michigan at Vote 411 is a "one-stop-shop" for election related information. It provides nonpartisan information to the public with both general and Michigan -specific information.

Included are candidate profiles and voter guide type Q&A for the statewide races as wel as Congressional, state senate and state representative races. Not all candidates participated or got their materials in by the deadline, but many did and we thank them. There is also material on the one ballot proposal with a pro and con argument. The proposal is potentially confusing.

You do have to make a few clicks to get to your sample ballot, but it is a national database that has to work its way to your ballot.

LWVBCC Releases 2014 Annual Report at Annual Meeting

The League's 2014 Annual Report is now available. The report reviews the 2013-14 League year and includes a financial report. It was distributed in hard copy to those members who attended the Annual Meeting.

Pictures at left is the Annual Meeting speaker Larry Webber, Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer at the Cook Nuclear Plant. With him is Monica Eberhardt, a LWVBCC Board member and another Cook employee. Larry spoke about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and what has been learned from it.

Youth Voter Registration Drive A Big Success!

League members have registered 279 students at eight high schools and two community colleges in Berrien and Cass Counties. The picture on the right was taken at Niles High School.

This project was headed by Voter Service Chair John Ripley and Special Projects Board member Earl Bickett.

LWV Presentation on Michigan Education Issues Available

The League of Women Voters of MIchigan has prepared a presentation on current education issues in Michigan and the League of Berrien and Cass Counties will make the presentation to groups interested in learning more on the current status of public education in Michiganand Governor Snyder's proposals to change education in Michigan. If you are interested please e-mail Chris Zilke at

LWVBCC Newsletters

View our informative e-newsletter, published almost monthly. The September 2014 newsletter is now available. It is a copy of an e-newsletter and does not have the same professional appearance as the original. If you would like to join our mailing list email