What is League Program?
League program is the education and advocacy platform that we adopt to move our mission forward.
The League of Women Voters is known for its grassroots organizing and its study of issues before taking action. League positions may be taken at the local, state, and national level. For more information on what those positions are, visit:
STUDY: to reach member agreement on an issue so that the League can take action.
SUGGEST A NEW STUDY: to decide on a title, goal, scope, focus, and reasons for recommending the study. This will include forming a committee of the interested Leaguers, researching the issue, conducting member discussion and reaching member consensus. A study is often a two-year effort: The first year is factual research and discussion and the second is responding to consensus questions.
UPDATE: to review an issue. A member update provides new or updated information on a topic that was previously studied by League. This process may lead to changes to a previous position.
DROP: to eliminate a position. This means we could not act on it now or in the future. Many Leagues never drop a position as they believe they may need to use it some day. Or they agree to retain it with an emphasis on updating or restudying it.
RETAIN: to keep a League position as is
ACTION: always the goal of the League’s study process. Member understanding and strong support are essential for successful action.
CITIZEN EDUCATION: to help citizen understand the complexities of an issue and encourage people to participate in reaching a solution; can also lay the groundwork for successful advocacy.
CONCURRENCE: to agree with a position already held by another League. If adopted a study committee would be appointed to study and request concurrence.
The Program Planning Deep Dive
What's behind the LWVPPR Program Planning Meeting?
Purpose: Review LWVUS and local League positions for the purpose of retaining, updating, dropping, concurring with them or suggesting new studies.
The yearly program planning process is the opportunity for League members to learn what League’s program positions are, what they mean, and why we review them. It is also the time to solicit member suggestions and opinions about future studies. League is a grassroots organization and League members are always asked to recommend and select issues for study, and to review existing positions to see if they meet today’s legislative and societal changes.
The program positions are important because they are the reason for League’s being – they are the basis for both advocacy and education efforts. When a League representative speaks before the Board of Education, the County Commissioners, City Council, or other governmental or official bodies, that speech is based on a program position that was studied and agreed upon by League members. We advocate only on the basis of the positions we have studied and developed over the years. The program planning process is done each year to determine whether existing positions address current issues or need an update.
LOCAL LEAGUE POSITIONS
Principles for adopting local League studies
Requirements for local League studies
-At least 3 members willing to conduct the research and present it to local members
-General timeline, goal, and rationale for the study
-A scope for the study
-what you plan to study
-the limits of the study
-how it pertains to the local community
-Must be reviewed by the local League Board or Admin Team for approval and announced at the local League’s annual meeting.
PLANNING FOR STUDIES
New Studies evolve through the process described below. Sometimes Updates or Action will also result from this process.
1. EARLY IN THE PROCESS
a. Role of the Membership
The program planning process begins with the members who:
- Propose and adopt Studies for the coming year—members should be watching governmental units, newspapers, and other media for concerns that are within our governmental jurisdiction to affect.
- Work to attract support for their Studies from their fellow members. If enthusiasm can be developed before the Program Planning Meeting, much of the work of attracting enough members to form a team later on has been accomplished.
- Bear in mind that the purpose of doing a Study is to take Action after the Study is complete. League Program items are adopted for study with the purpose of developing Positions for use in lobbying governmental bodies. Therefore, study items should not be adopted to ‘survey the situation to determine if League should develop Positions.
November Notify members of Program Planning plans.
December The first of the month is the deadline for new Study suggestions.
At their regular December meeting the Admin Team reviews the Study proposals.
Prepare announcement of the proposed Studies for the January Voter.
January Hold Program Planning Meeting early enough to report results in the February Voter.
February Admin Team reviews the results of the meeting and decides which Studies and Position Statements to recommend or not recommend to members at the Annual Meeting.
April Members vote on proposed Studies and Position Statements and give direction on all Program items at the Annual Meeting.
30 days after the Annual Meeting each team must have five members or it must dissolve.
c. Criteria for Adopting a New Study:
- Is this a crucial time for the issue?
- Do the political realities permit effective Action?
- How much member interest has been expressed on the issue?
- Is it a topic of discussion in the community?
- Is the issue one on which government action is needed?
- Does it fall within League Principles? (See Appendix A)
- Can community interest be developed?
- Does the interest need to be developed?
- Will the League be able to make an impact?
- Is the issue important enough to inspire League interest and commitment?
- Does the issue “fit” as part of a whole workable Program: local, state, or nation?
- Will the problem be likely to be with us for sometime?
- Are other groups doing the same thing?
- Is the item manageable?
- Is the financial capability available to do the Study?
- Are there already Positions that can be used?
- Is the issue worth League time and effort?
- Are allies available?
- Will League involvement increase the League’s political influence and credibility?
- How long will the Study take?
2. BY DECEMBER 1ST
Before a proposal may be presented at the January Program Planning Meeting it must be approved by the Admin Team. Study proposals for the coming year are due on December 1; use the example below as a guide to prepare a Statement of Intent.
Name of team: Children’s Health and Welfare Team
Focus of the Study: The impact of current health and welfare programs on the well-being of children in El Paso County
Scope of the Inquiry: Review recent national and state health and welfare legislation and its impact on children in El Paso County.
Rationale for the Study: Current local, state, and national LWV Position Statements may not be adequate to cover changes caused by recent legislation.
Goal of the Study: To determine which, if any, current health and welfare programs for children are injurious to the population they are supposed to serve, and develop a new Position to lead to Action.
List of those who are interested in participating in the Study if it is adopted: list of names
Name and phone number of Person(s) filling out this form: Jane Doe 123-4567 Date: November 17, year
3. AFTER ADMIN TEAM APPROVAL, in preparation for the January meeting
- Members will receive a list of proposed Studies in the Voter to review before the meeting.
- Members will also review local Positions and either State or National Positions in alternating years; these are available on the LWVPPR website.
4. AT THE JANUARY MEETING
- Proposals for new Studies are presented to the general membership, discussed, and decisions are made about which proposals the members support for the coming year’s Program.
- Existing Positions at the local and state or national levels are reviewed to decide which to retain, drop, or update.
- During the discussions at this meeting members may decide they want a re-study of a Position because it may lead to a new or revised Position Statement. The re-study would then be added to the proposed Program as a Position Update, and thereafter treated as another proposed Study.
5. AFTER THE JANUARY MEETING
Consensus resulting from the January meeting is sent to the Admin Team for review. The decision of the Admin Team is included in the Call to Action at the Annual Meeting as either:
- Recommended Program or
- Non-recommended Program, referring to
- items not receiving enough support from the Admin Team to be "recommended" or
- existing Position Statements that members have decided to drop.
6. AT THE ANNUAL MEETING
The members vote on all Program proposals.
- Program Planners present the Program, both recommended and non-recommended items, with the assistance of other members if the Planners wish.
- Recommended items may be adopted or rejected by a simple majority.
- Non-recommended items may be accepted as Program by a two-thirds vote; i.e., the members may override the Admin Team decision to reject.
- Wording of any new Study is perfected at this meeting.
- Members will have an opportunity at this meeting to give direction for the coming year on all aspects of League activity. These comments must be taken into consideration when teams set their priorities for the year.
7. 30 DAYS AFTER THE ANNUAL MEETING
Deadline for Study Team formation: if a team has not formed within 30 days after the Annual Meeting, that Program item is dropped.
STUDY OR UPDATE TEAM PLAN FOR THE YEAR
For use after a Study or Position Update is adopted at the Annual Meeting and the team has five members.
Requires Admin Team approval; please attach the Statement of Intent and send to the Admin Team Liaison before June 15.
Name of team
Any changes made at the Annual Meeting to the Focus or Scope of the Study or Update as presented on the Statement of Intent
Any direction from members made at the Annual Meeting
Any changes the team would like to make in the Goal of the Study
Plan for the year to achieve the goal:
Steps to achieve the goal including research methods, activities (speaker, tour, video), etc.
Frequency of team meetings
Approximate date(s) of meetings hosted by the team (see the meeting-planning worksheets in the LWVPPR Guidebook, Chapter V, pp. 5–6):
- general-membership meeting(s)
- public meeting(s)
- Consensus Meeting for the membership
Anticipated costs (please keep within budget; if not within budget, Admin Team must authorize additional expenditures).
List of team members (must have at least 5
Contact person Phone Date
On the National Level
New Study, Review, or Concurrence on the National Level
Local and state Leagues are only asked to make two recommendations that can be any combination of a new study, review, or concurrence.
In a new study, members evaluate possible issues by asking: Is there widespread member interest? Is this a timely issue? Is government action the most effective way to address the problem? To propose a new study a League must create a statement of scope (up to 300 words) that lists the areas to be explored, the emphasis on a particular aspect of the issue, and the parameters of the study.
In a review, local and state Leagues can ask the national League to review a previous position for purposes of amending or deleting it. (Example: At National Convention 2012, delegates voted to update the Agriculture position.)
In a concurrence, local and state Leagues have the option of recommending a program item for concurrence. Most often the proposed concurrence is based on a previous state or local position. (Example: At National Convention 2006, delegates voted to adopt the following League position on the death penalty: “The LWVUS supports the abolition of the death penalty.” This decision was made in concurrence with a position adopted by the LWV of Illinois.)
Criteria for Reviewing Positions:
-age of the position
-major legislative or societal developments or changes
-how positions will adapt to changing role of U.S. in the world over the next decade
Other Criteria to Consider
-What issues are of local concern?
-What are the hot issues in the media, in government?
-Is government action the most effective way to address this issue?
-Is the issue timely?
-Can League make a difference or is it a duplication of effort?
-Would members be interested enough, and inspired, to participate?
-Study must be done in a timely manner
-There must be enough personnel to volunteer their time.
-Training needed for League members to conduct the studies.