LWV social recaps progress, issues

The Fifth Tuesday social hosted by the Lower Keys League of Women Voters this week featured highlights of the legislative session and the recent Florida State LWV Convention held in Del Ray Beach. The reports were given by local league President Joan Wallin and Treasurer Sandy Bergin, delegates to the convention.

Initiatives coming out of the convention included the open primary study, to increase voter participation. It is important to compile data, Wallin said. “For instance, they analyzed the 2014 Congressional primary. The end result was that 18 of the 27 seats were decided in the primary. Of those, five ran unopposed. There were no elections won by less than a 50% majority. They will analyze state elections next.” Also in the process of organization is a study of various types of open primaries across county, she added.

Monroe County turns out only a little over a quarter of its registered voters for primary elections: the average voter turnout in primary elections for the county is 27.69 percent, slightly higher in presidential election years, Wallin said.

Bergin explained the league’s uncommon decision-making practice of reaching consensus, not putting issues to a majority-rules vote. Each issue is first studied by a committee, which then presents its conclusions and recommendations to the delegates of the state organization. The group discusses the issue until it reaches a unanimous agreement, sometimes with a single member or two agreeing to “stand aside” and allow implementation of whatever action is decided.

The Florida legislature, which ended a late, special session in June, will convene its 2016 earlier, in January. That leaves little time to define priorities and prepare, Wallin said.

The convention delegates introduced a petition drive for the Solar Choice Amendment, which “will allow investors to install solar electric panels on commercial and residential rooftops, and to sell the electricity to the tenants or adjacent landowners,” Wallin said. “Currently, Florida is one of only four states that prohibit the sale of electricity by anyone other than an established utility.

The Solar Choice Amendment is backed by a broad cross section of groups including the League of Women Voters of Florida, environmentalists, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. If enacted, the Solar Choice Amendment will allow price competition, enhance the freedom to use one’s property,and make substantial progress toward carbon reduction. It will be a meaningful step towards putting real sunshine in the Sunshine State. You can learn more at flsolarchoice.org.”

The members present reached immediate and enthusiastic consensus to support the amendment, with a number joining in the effort to gather the necessary signatures by December 31, 2015 so it can be on the ballot in November 2016.

The local league’s next open meeting will be September’s Fifth Tuesday event with special guest Father Stephen Braddock, Executive Director of Florida Keys Outreach Coalition.

Anyone interested in membership in LWV—and that includes men, who have been welcomed since the 1960s, is invited to contact Membership Chair Donna Windle at 305-304-1863 or visit the chapter’s website at lowerkeyslwv.org


Contact: Joan Wallin, 305-304-9530

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