Program Planning

Program Overview
Proposed Program

For these other sections, please download the LWVC-2017-Convention-workbook:
Program Planning Report
Legislative Priorities
Climate Change Action Policy
Program Resources

Program Overview


Delegates to LWVC Convention 2017 will adopt the LWVC Program for 2017-2019 as the final step in the program planning process that started last November. The proposed program includes the LWVC Program Positions and the LWVC Issues for Emphasis. A full list of the program ideas submitted by the local Leagues is included on pages 42-44.

LWVC Program Positions. The LWVC board recommends all current LWVC positions for retention. Position summaries are listed on pages 32-37.

LWVC Studies and Position Updates; New Position and Action Policy. No new study or update study is recommended. All not-recommended items are listed on pages 42-44.

Also, no update study or adoption of a new position by concurrence is recommended. Two items for concurrence were suggested, each by one League.

The position on Public Higher Education in California, the culmination of the study that was adopted at Convention 2013, was adopted by the board last July and is included in the positions for retention.

Developing an Action Policy on Climate Change to guide action and education at state, regional, and local levels was proposed at Convention 2015. The work has been completed and the action policy on pages 46-52 was adopted by the board in March.

LWVC Issues for Emphasis. Three issues for emphasis are proposed on pages 37-40 for concerted local and state-level action and community education. As always, the LWVC board’s recommendation reflects League financial and volunteer resources as well as the issues that received the strongest input from local Leagues in program planning activities, the League’s current ongoing activities, and League strength and opportunities to make an impact in issues related to democracy and civic engagement. These issues are broad and reflect our current, rapidly changing environment.

The method used to evaluate the strength of the various local League proposals can be found on page 42.


Members of 45 Leagues participated in the program planning process for 2017-2019. The results were presented to the LWVC board for its consideration and recommendation.

At the convention, the presentation of the proposed program will occur on Friday, and a motion to adopt each recommended item will be made by a member of the LWVC board. No second is necessary. Questions for clarification will be allowed at that time, but there will be no votes or debate.

Motions to consider not-recommended items may be made on Friday following the presentation and motions concerning the proposed program, or on Saturday. These require a second. Only motions pertaining to items proposed in program planning by local Leagues, as indicated in the list on pages 42-44, are appropriate. Motions to consider occur without debate except for a statement by the maker of the motion. Questions for clarification will be allowed.

The votes to allow consideration of not-recommended items will be taken on Saturday after all motions have been made, in the order in which the motions were presented. A majority vote is required to consider a not-recommended item.

Discussion and debate will take place on Saturday on both the LWVC board-recommended program and on all not-recommended program items that have been voted consideration. Final program debate and adoption will occur on Sunday.

A majority vote is required to adopt recommended program items, while a three-fifths vote is required to adopt program items that are not recommended by the board. Adoption of program priorities implies a commitment of time and resources of staff, the LWVC board of directors, and local Leagues.

If you have questions regarding the procedures outlined above, please consult the Convention Rules on pages 116-124 of this workbook or contact Joanne Leavitt, Second Vice President for Advocacy and Program (

Program Adoption at a Glance



Friday, June 2
Proposed program presented. Board members move adoption of the proposed program (see pages 32-40)

Questions for clarification are allowed. No debate or amendments.

Delegates may move consideration of not-recommended items. (Items must be listed on pages 42-44 to be considered.)

Explanatory statement by maker of motion. Questions for clarification are allowed. No debate or amendments.

Saturday, June 3
Delegates may move consideration of not-recommended items. (Items must be listed on pages 42-44 to be considered.)

Explanatory statement by maker of motion. Questions for clarification are allowed. No debate or amendments.

Vote for consideration of not-recommended items.

Votes are taken in the order items were moved; majority vote required to grant consideration.

Discussion and debate on program proposals. Discussion and debate on program proposals granted consideration.
Sunday, June 4
Debate and vote on proposed program.
Majority vote required to adopt.
Debate and vote on items granted consideration on Saturday.

Vote in the order granted consideration. Three-fifths (60%) vote required to adopt.

Proposed Program 2017-2019


The recommended program for 2017-2019 is:

  • Retain all existing positions (see Proposed Program Positions in Brief, below)
  • No new study or update study for 2017-2019
  • Adopt as Issues for Emphasis for 2017-2019: (see pages 37-40)
  1. Making Democracy Work in California, with a focus on election reform, voting rights, expanding the electorate, and money in politics
  2. Natural resources, including climate change, water, and land use/CEQA
  3. Response to changing federal policies and budget actions that have an impact on California in areas such as health care, immigration, the environment, and tax reform.

We note that the LWVUS Program for 2016-2018 is the Campaign for Making Democracy Work. Thus, we expect opportunities will arise for synergy between federal and state/local League work.

Proposed Program Positions in Brief


CAMPAIGN FINANCING: adopted 1973; updated 1976
Support state campaign finance practices for candidates and advocates of ballot measure positions that will ensure full disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures and enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office.

CONSTITUTION: adopted 1957; updated 1965-67
Support measures to secure an orderly and simplified State Constitution; provisions that enable the legislature to deal with state problems efficiently, flexibly, and with responsibility clearly fixed; and constitutional guarantee of equal representation of all citizens in both houses of the state legislature.

ELECTION SYSTEMS: adopted 2001; amended in 2003 and 2011
Support election systems for executive and other single seat offices, both at the state and local levels, that require the winner to receive a majority of the votes, as long as the majority is achieved using a voting method such as Instant Runoff Voting, rather than a second, separate runoff election.

INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM PROCESS: adopted 1984; updated 1999 and 2013
Support citizens’ right of direct legislation through the initiative and referendum process.

Support an efficient, effective, and equitable balance of responsibility and authority among the levels of government with accountability to the public.

PUBLIC LIBRARIES: adopted 1998
Support a public library system as a basic community service with a long-term, assured, stable and adequate funding source.

Support access by all persons to public library services as a major source of knowledge and information necessary for informed, active participation in a democratic society.

REDISTRICTING: adopted 1988; amended 2007
Support a state redistricting process and standards that promote fair and effective representation in the state legislature and in the House of Representatives with maximum opportunity for public scrutiny.

Support an independent commission as the preferred redistricting body.

STATE AND LOCAL FINANCES: adopted 1969; updated 1975; new positions 1976, 1977, 1981, 1995
Support measures to ensure revenues both sufficient and flexible enough to meet changing needs for state and local government services; that contribute to a system of public finance that emphasizes equity and fair sharing of the tax burden as well as adequacy; that include long range finance methods that meet current and future needs while taking into account the cumulative impact of public debt.

Support a process that maintains statutory authority over tax sources, rates and tax expenditures; that makes limited use of direct voting by the public on revenue measures; and that allows adoption of revenue and finance measures by a simple majority vote.

Support the distribution of revenue sources between state and local governments in a manner to ensure adequate, equitable and flexible funding of public programs based on the responsibilities and requirements of each and that emphasizes accountability.

Support an equitable, broad-based local property tax, easy and economical to administer, producing adequate revenue, with limitations on the types of services it funds.

Support assessment practices and policies that are equitable, accurate, easy to understand and well publicized, with like properties treated uniformly.

VOTING RIGHTS: adopted 1972; reviewed 1986
Support measures that will protect every citizen’s right to vote and ensure government’s responsibility to protect this right through regulations and procedures that encourage an informed and active electorate.

 Natural Resources

AGRICULTURE: adopted 1983; amended 20155000
Support policies that recognize agricultural land as a limited resource that must be preserved for the economic and physical well-being of California and the nation. Appropriate agricultural land should be identified and its long-term protection should be based on regulatory and incentive programs that include comprehensive planning, zoning measures, and other preservation techniques. State policy that affects agriculture should ensure the conservation of soil and water resources through incentives coupled with penalties for noncompliance.

AIR QUALITY: adopted 1971; updated 1973
Support measures to establish air quality standards that will protect the public health and welfare, and the development of effective enforcement and implementation procedures at each level of government to attain these standards.

ENERGY: adopted 1978; updated 1980 and 2006, amended 2007
Support development of a state energy policy that will ensure reliability of energy resources and protection of the environment and public health and safety, at reasonable customer rates, giving primary consideration to conservation and energy efficiency. State government should provide an efficient, coordinated energy administrative structure with open transparent procedures.

HAZARDOUS MATERIALS: adopted 1986 and 1987
Support comprehensive measures to provide maximum protection to human health and the environment from the adverse effects of hazardous materials, including pesticides. An integrated approach should be taken to prevent harmful exposures through soil, surface and groundwater contamination, bio-accumulation, air pollution and direct contact. Hazardous materials planning should promote pollution prevention. All levels of government share responsibility for preventing exposures.

LAND USE: adopted 1975
Support state land use planning that recognizes land as a resource as well as a commodity. The state should establish guidelines and standards for land areas of more than local concern. Decisions for these areas should be made at the lowest level of government feasible, but should be subject to state review. Citizens must have a meaningful participation in land use planning and regulation.

SOLID WASTE: adopted 1973
Support measures to assure environmentally sound and efficient solid waste management, to reduce the generations of wastes, to encourage resource recovery, and to increase the demand for secondary materials.

TRANSPORTATION: adopted 1981; revised 1985; new position 1991
Support a transportation system to move people and goods that: includes a variety of transportation modes, with emphasis on increased public transportation services and other viable alternatives to reduce vehicle miles traveled; is efficient, convenient, and cost-effective; is safe and secure; serves all segments of the population and diverse geographic needs; minimizes harmful effects on the environment; is integrated with land use; and is supported by extensive public education.

WATER: adopted 1959; updated 1961, 1967, 1971, 1979
Support measures that promote the management and development of water resources in ways that are beneficial to the environment with emphasis on conservation and high standards of water quality that are appropriate for the intended use.

 Social Policy

Support for the principles that all children are entitled to safe, nurturing care and that caring for children is a societal as well as a family responsibility.

Support programs and policies that would effectively coordinate and integrate services that meet basic human needs, prevent or reduce poverty and promote self-sufficiency for individuals and families.

CHILD CARE: adopted 1989
Support state and local policies, legislation and programs that meet the need for accessible, affordable, and quality childcare.

Support a statewide community college system with sufficient resources to fulfill its overall goal: to offer all Californians access to a quality higher education.

Resources should be stable, accommodate all enrolling students, be fairly distributed among the college districts, and provide opportunities for long-range planning.

Governance should allow greater authority within the system itself with local districts making key decisions about mission priorities to meet community needs.

EDUCATION: PRE-KINDERGARTEN THROUGH 12: adopted 1973; updated 1985 and 2005
Support a comprehensive pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade public education system that meets the needs of each individual student; challenges all students to reach their highest potential; and develops patterns of lifelong learning and responsible citizenship.

Support improvements in public education, based on access with both equitable and sufficient opportunities to learn for all students.

Support a system of public education funding that is adequate, flexible, equitable, reliable and sustainable; derived from a combination of revenue sources; and distributed fairly to support access and equitable opportunities for all students.

Support formulating broad general guidelines at the state level, with flexibility at the local level for developing and implementing program.

HOUSING: adopted 1970; updated 1973, 1993
Support equal opportunity in housing.

Support measures to provide state programs to increase the supply of safe, decent, and adequate housing for all Californians.

Support action at all levels of government for the provision of affordable housing for all Californians.

JUVENILE JUSTICE/DEPENDENCY: adopted 1997 and 1999; amended 2011
Support a juvenile justice/dependency system that works to prevent child abuse and neglect and juvenile delinquency, that serves foster children and their families and status offenders, and that rehabilitates juvenile offenders, by promoting the safety and well-being of children and helping to prepare them for productive participation in society.

Support early identification of at-risk children and families followed by appropriate referrals to services that work with children, youth, families and schools.

Support community efforts to provide safe supportive environments for children and their families and institutions that respect them and promote non-violent solutions to problems.

Support the rights and best interests of the child in preference to those of any other individual.

LEGAL AID: adopted 1971; revised 1983
Support measures that will enable the judicial system of the state to provide for all citizens adequate access to legal services. Support adequately funded, government supported legal assistance programs that provide legal aid to those unable to pay.

MENTAL HEALTH CARE: adopted 1998
Support an adequately funded mental health care system that provides comprehensive services to the acutely, chronically and seriously mentally ill of all ages; maintains optimal mental health services for all clients; places emphasis on meeting the needs of children; offers mental health services for the homeless; seeks additional funds for preventive services; implements a master plan to integrate services; raises awareness of critical unmet needs; and emphasizes case management.

Support a comprehensive system of public higher education that serves the personal, professional, and occupational goals of all adult Californians and advances the social, economic, and civic needs of the state. To achieve these objectives, public higher education must prioritize access, affordability, equity, and excellence. These priorities require state funding, including student financial aid, that is stable, predictable, sustainable, and timely.

Proposed Issues for Emphasis 2017-2019

In each of the three issues recommended for education and advocacy in the 2017-2019 biennium, we have opportunities in three areas. We may:

  • Advocate: Each of these items is based on positions adopted after League study and member agreement. Unlike single-issue organizations, we can bring to the table a balanced view, not that of a special constituency, but one based on the overall public good. Advocacy can be at the local and regional levels as well as at the legislature and state agencies.
  • Educate: One of the League’s strengths is providing nonpartisan information and helping people understand the decisions that need to be made and the consequences of these decisions. We can help our fellow Californians understand their options and weigh them in civil discourse.
  • Empower Community Leadership: Along with educating community members about decisions we are making as communities and as a society at large, we can give them the tools for making their voices heard, understanding how the decisions being made will affect them, and where the venues for speaking out are. How do we come together to make the best decisions for all of us?

Making Democracy Work in California

This is a broad area that aligns with national priorities and includes core issues for the League at all levels. It includes League priorities such as election reform, voting rights, expanding the electorate, money in politics, and redistricting.

Election Reform: Major changes in elections will be coming over the next few years, and Leagues will have many opportunities for community outreach and education as well as for monitoring the implementation of new systems. Election-day registration is now available, and changes in the voter registration process at the DMV promise to greatly expand the voter rolls. The LWVC and Leagues in affected counties will be working to implement the new Voters Choice Act which uses a combination of vote-by-mail balloting, ballot drop-off locations, and vote centers. Finding ways to provide increased, stable funding for elections is another area for work at the state level.

We benefit from our active membership in the Future of California Elections (FOCE), a collaboration among election administrators, civil rights organizations, and election reform advocates. FOCE constitutes a powerful force for improving the election process in California.

Voting Rights and Expanding the Electorate: While Californians are not threatened by the various voter suppression tactics seen in other states, we must remain vigilant. We realize there is always room for improvement and outreach to underserved persons in our communities, including those who have disabilities or do not speak English as a primary language. Recent litigation and legislation supported by the League have clarified the voting rights of offenders under supervision in their communities, but there is a continuing need for grassroots efforts to inform and assist those serving time in county jails or on probation, who often believe they are disenfranchised. We will support legislation to improve voting services and seize opportunities to extend voting rights protections that have been curtailed by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

As we examine voter turnout rates across the state we can see many opportunities to make the electorate in California more representative of the population as a whole. Voter service work to prepare materials in plain language and address the language needs of our newer voters is a primary effort in this area, as is an expanded Voter’s Edge. Expanding awareness of the ease of online registration, preregistration for youth 16 and older, and ease of voting by mail are just some ways we can help inform our communities.

Money in Politics: This continues to be a high priority for League members. A major bill passed last year allows local government bodies to establish public campaign funding systems, and implementation of this legislation at the local level will be a focus this term. We will continue to work for state legislation to establish default limits on the size of campaign contributions to local candidates, and Leagues can push their cities, counties, and districts that do not have contribution limits to establish limits appropriate to their communities. At the state level we will continue to monitor the implementation of the Cal-Access online disclosure system and work for campaign disclosure laws.

Redistricting: Important legislation passed last year allows all local cities and counties to establish independent redistricting commissions. We can educate our communities and encourage them to establish commissions before the 2020 census, using the state Citizens Redistricting Commission (CFC) as a model. The LWVC will work to ensure adequate funding for the CRC and support efforts to ensure that persons in prisons are counted appropriately.

Natural Resources

Three primary areas of focus in the Natural Resources area are climate change, water, and the relationship between land use and the state’s housing shortage. and the necessary protections of CEQA. This does not mean there will not be an appropriate response as needed to coastal protection, hazardous waste, and other issues as they arise.

Climate Change: The focus on Climate Change is reflected in the production of the Climate Change Action Policy (pages 46-52) to guide education and action at both state and local League levels. Climate change is the biggest single threat of our time to our environment, our public health and safety, and our economy. The last biennium saw the passage of significant state climate legislation to require 50 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources and a doubling of energy efficiency in buildings by 2030, as well as an acceleration of the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over the landmark goals set in 2006. We will educate our communities and take action to implement those new requirements at all levels. The LWVC will monitor and support legislation on issues such as carbon pricing, full life-cycle cost of carbon emissions, and the protection of California environmental standards in the face of changing federal policies.

Water: In a year as wet as this one has been, it may be hard to remember that California’s water supplies are heavily over-allocated, with competing users vying for limited amounts of water. However, Leagues around the state are more conscious than ever of the need for sustainable surface and groundwater management practices. Local League members will play a role in presenting facts and resources and bringing out various points of view in community discussions, and they can monitor the development of Groundwater Sustainability Plans in their areas.

LWVC Water Committee members will continue to monitor the WaterFix proposal for twin-tunnel Delta conveyance and the process of allocating the 2014 water bond funds, encouraging the use of bond moneys for groundwater storage projects. The LWVC will monitor and support legislation and agency action on a number of issues such as water quality and availability for low-income or disadvantaged users; long-term, stable funding to implement the Human Right to Water; and water bonds.

Land Use: Land use policies, as reflected in planning and zoning, continue to have a major impact on the growing housing shortage in California. The LWVC will continue to support proposals that streamline but do not weaken the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process and oppose CEQA-related proposals that limit the public’s chance to weigh in on community environmental and land use decisions. That having been said, the use and sometimes misuse of CEQA can have a major impact on possible changes in planning and zoning regulations. The LWVC will monitor and advocate for a careful balance between the necessary environmental protections provided by CEQA and its possible misuse as we follow other land use actions that affect housing production (such as locating housing near public transportation).

Response to Changing Federal Policies and Budget Actions

In considering priorities for the work of the League, both the LWVC legislation committee and the board of directors agree that this year is not like any other year. At any time, changing federal policies may threaten some of our long-standing positions and values. Adopted program and priorities must anticipate and allow for the flexibility to respond to these challenges as they may arise.

Areas of concern include, but are not limited to, health care, immigration, the environment, and tax reform/revenue generation. In addition, both policy and budget decisions at the federal level may have serious consequences on our state budget.

The LWVC is already working on state legislation about immigration, single payer health care, protecting California’s environmental laws and regulations, and Proposition 13 reform, and will continue to be active in those areas.