Making Democracy Work

Program and Studies

Upcoming and ongoing studies

Higher Education in California

Information for this study is available at

Scope of the LWVC Study:

The scope of this study is to "examine access to quality higher education in California including funding, affordability, preparedness, equity and opportunities and barriers to student success."

This study has tried to indicate some of the barriers that undermine academic attainment and to suggest opportunities that could open the clogged pathways inherent in our system of public higher education. First and foremost, California lacks a coherent system to assist students starting inK-12 to seek higher education and to understand the steps involved in attaining it.

Once prepared and enrolled, further understanding of the channels students will have to cross from the CCC system to a four-year degree, with guidance along the choppy route, are essential. Programs and service now in short supply should be expanded and more financial resources mustered to pay for them. If underrepresented minorities and first-generation youngsters are not given access to success in higher education, our future as a state will be diminished, and we will have wasted the vast potential only human ingenuity can bring to bear to solve future problems. It must not happen. The League of Women Voters of California should play its part in leading the way to a brighter future through changes to our system of public higher education.

"This is a pivotal moment in California higher education. We are in a unique position to fundamentally change higher education in a way that builds on the value of access, affordability and quality that were embedded in the Master Plan for Higher Education. (Little Hoover Commission Report, 2013)

The Discussion and Consensus meeting for this study will be help on April 15th. The goal of the panel discussion is to introduce us to the questions we will be asked in April and to hear them answered by knowledgeable leaders and educators at all levels of CA public higher education.

LWV US Money in Politics

The Money in Politics Study Consensus meeting will be in January. Here are the study materials and the consensus questions.

Study Materials:

Consensus Questions:

Money in Politics

League of Women Voters of Orange County + ILO Study of Money in Orange County Politics

Conclusion of Study of Money in Politics by the Orange County League of Women Voters, an Inter-League Organization (ILO): After an intensive study of the issue, on November 7, 2015, the Orange County LWV ILO reached concurrence on a Position on "Money in Orange County Politics." It will be added to our LWV-ILO Positions on Issues and will be used in the upcoming June, 2016 election. Click here for the Concurrence Statement.

October 10 Session II Resources

Money in Orange County Politics - Study Session II

I. Welcome and Introductions: Mary Fuhrman

II. What is an Ethics Commission? Mary Fuhrman

III. The Los Angeles Ethics Commission: Heather Holt and David Tristan

IV. The Fair Political Practices Commission: Christina Lucey

V. Orange County Ethics Commission Ballot Measure for June: Wanda Shaffer

VI. Final Meeting on Saturday, November 7, 10 a.m. + 12 Noon: Discussion and Adoption of a Concurrence Statement

Location: Campus of the Sisters of St Joseph of Orange, 480 South Batavia Street, Orange, CA 92868

September 19 Study Session I

A Study Presented by The Orange County League of Women Voters Inter-League Organization (ILO) Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, 480 S. Batavia Street, Orange, CA 92868

I. Welcome: Susan Guilford, ILO President

II. Background for this Study: Moderator Gisela Meier

II. Time is Now Clean Up Politics (TINCUP): Patty Santry

IV. Political Reform Act of 1974 Amendment Bills: Mary Fuhrman

V. The 2012-2013 Grand Jury Report: Wanda Shaffer

VI. 2013-2014 Grand Jury Report: Ethics and Campaign Reporting: Why and How to Implement Stronger Oversight, Transparency and Enforcement: Wanda Shaffer

V. Preview of Session II: Saturday, October 10

  • A presentation on the LA Ethics Commission by a Member of their staff; ;
  • A presentation from one of our members on the FPPC, using a PowerPoint assembled from elements of two of their PowerPoints which they shared with us;
  • A presentation on the latest version of a proposed "Ethics Commission Initiative"
  • An update on the current status of the OC Board of Supervisors (BOS) position on ethics reform

  • 10 a.m. + Noon, Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, 480 S. Batavia Street, Orange, CA 92868

Constitutional Amendment Study

LWVUS Constitutional Amendments Study Resources

On Friday, November 13, 2015, members of the COAST and CAPO League of Women Voters will meet to answer the Consensus Questions which have been posed for us by the League of Women Voters of the United States.

This Resource Document contains many links to documents you may wish to consult as you prepare for the Consensus Meeting - you will recognize them because wherever there is a link the text is blue and underlined. If you "float" you cursor over the text the link appears, and pressing the "Ctrl" key and clicking will take you to the document.

Here is how the National Study Committee describes the work we are doing, taken from the Constitutional Amendment Study Guide which they developed.

"This study of amending the U.S. Constitution is in three parts. The questions in Part I are to develop guidelines for evaluating constitutional amendment proposals. Part II asks about aspects of an Article V Constitutional Convention that may be important in conducting such a Convention. Part III relates to how the League might put these guidelines into practice and asks two overall balancing questions between process and positions (Study Guide, p. 1)."

Constitutional Background:

"In 1787, delegates from twelve of the thirteen states then in existence met in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation. Instead, they drafted a totally new document, what we know as the U.S. Constitution. It was unanimously ratified by the states. While this all seems very long ago, how the Constitution began and how the 1787 Convention was convened and conducted are cited in the current debate about calling a Convention under Article V.

Here's what Article V of the U.S. Constitution says about amending the Constitution:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; . . .

So Article V provides two ways of proposing amendments to the nation's fundamental charter. Congress, by a two-thirds vote of both chambers, may propose constitutional amendments to the states for ratification. OR, the legislatures of two-thirds of the states (34 at present) may ask Congress to call a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution; this is commonly called an Article V Convention. Amendments proposed by either method must be ratified by three-fourths of the states, 38 at present.

The first method has been used by Congress to submit 33 amendments to the states, beginning with the Bill of Rights. Of these, 27 were approved; 26 are currently in effect, while one + the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) -- was ultimately repealed by a second amendment, the 21st. The 21st Amendment was also the only one ratified by conventions in the states, rather than by state legislatures. In June 1920, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the U.S. Constitution provided for state legislatures, not citizen referendum campaigns, to ratify amendments.

The second method, an Article V Convention, has never been successfully invoked (Study Guide, p.1). "

League Background:

"Perhaps it goes without saying that the League of Women Voters believes it is right and permissible to amend the Constitution of the United States when circumstances demand. The League was born from the successful, decades-long effort to pass the 19th Amendment.

The question for us today is: what are the shared values and beliefs within the League + what consensus do we have + regarding the circumstances that might allow or compel the League to endorse a constitutional amendment or an Article V Convention?

If we do find that we have consensus on some of the principles that should guide us, mobilizing the organization to advocacy for or against a particular amendment would fall under the established protocol by which the League determines its advocacy agenda, as laid out in Impact on Issues.

We might support an amendment that was in concert with League positions, but we might not support every amendment that was in concert with League positions. In other words, having a position on the issue is necessary but might not be sufficient for the League to endorse a constitutional amendment.

The first question to ask is whether League positions support the proposed amendment, but even if the answer is an unqualified "yes," we need to examine other factors. The remainder of this Guide helps frame the discussion of those other factors (Study Guide, p.2). "

Consensus Questions: As noted above, the Consensus Questions are divided into three Parts. For each of the three Parts, the National Study Committee has selected some background readings which they describe as Foundation Readings. In addition, there are Specific References for each question or sub-question.

Below you will find links to the Foundation Readings for each of the three Parts of the Study, followed by a detailed list of "Specific References" for each Question, with their associated links, with page number references for each question or sub-question.

Here is a link to the Constitutional Amendment Consensus Questions themselves.

Upcoming Studies

Reprinted from the latest edition of the Orange Coast Voter, here is a detailed explanation of all of our upcoming studies and consensus meetings.

Money in Politics: What on Earth Is Going On With All These Studies in the League of Women Voters?

By Rebecca Newman, Government Chair

If you haven't been travelling around the world by bicycle for the past few years, you are probably aware that your League has been busy on many levels working to be sure that our League of Women Voters Positions on Money in Politics (MIP) are appropriate in a Post-Citizens United, Super-Pac world. You may be finding yourself scratching your head and throwing up your hands in despair just trying to figure out "Who's on First?" in this ballgame.

What's Going On? You probably know that the League - on any level - can only act based on a Position statement that was produced as a result of a Study. Studies are begun when authorized by the appropriate League body, and much of the work is done by an appointed committee.

New (or updated) Positions which arise from Studies must then be agreed to by the appropriate League body, either by Consensus (derived from responses to Consensus Questions arising from the Study) or by Concurrence (participants in a Study craft a Position Statement, based on the Study materials, on which Leagues or members can either agree or disagree).

In the case of a local League Position, the work is all done by the members at the local level. In the case of State and National Studies, COAST League needs to appoint a small group of members to consider the materials the official Study committee provides to us, and guide COAST in understanding the Study, its findings, and the Consensus questions and process.

For State and National League Studies, the Consensus or Concurrence must come from the constituent Leagues. Each of these Leagues needs to participate in the Study to the extent to which they can do so, and then respond to the Consensus Questions + or agree or disagree with a Position statement being offered for Concurrence + and send their results to the higher level League to be merged with the results of all participating Leagues to create the new (or updated) Position.

Current MIP Studies: At the moment, there are three Studies related to Money in Politics going on; two at the national level and one in Orange County's Inter League Organization (ILO)!

LWVUS Constitutional Amendment Study: The League of Women Voters of the United States is doing a Constitutional Amendment Study. According to the Study website: "During 2015, the LWVUS Constitutional Amendment Committee will conduct a study and member agreement process on amending our nation's Constitution.

In addition to other topics, our League study will explore what constitutes an appropriate and well-crafted amendment. For Local Leagues that want to begin to prepare for the study, here is a paper published by The Century Foundation in 1999. "Great and Extraordinary Occasions: Developing Guidelines for Constitutional Change", a Publication of Citizens for the Constitution, a project of The Century Foundation. The Century Foundation Press, 1999 (61 pages total, 25 primary text), Louis Michael Sidman, Legal Advisor; Virginia Sloan, Executive Director. This paper, developed by a long list of eminent lawyers and scholars, presents eight guidelines for constitutional amendments. It analyzes historical amendments and 9 contemporaneous proposals (those discussed during the 104th and 105th Congresses, 1995 - 1999) against these guidelines."

Many Constitutional Amendment Study materials are already available online at this link LWVUS Constitutional Amendment Study.

The COAST League will hold a consensus meeting this fall, as our responses to this Study will be due December 1, 2015.

LWVUS Money in Politics Review: The League of Women Voters of the United States is conducting a Review (not a whole new Study) of the League's current Position on Money in Politics. According to the Study website "The Money in Politics Committee will conduct an update of the League's position on campaign finance for the purpose of addressing the lack of member understanding and agreement as to whether financing a political campaign is protected speech under the First Amendment. The campaign finance position will be updated through a study and consensus process to consider: (1) the rights of individuals and organizations, under the First Amendment, to express their political views through independent expenditures and the finance of election campaign activities; and (2) how those rights, if any, should be protected and reconciled with the interests set out in the current position."

At the present time there are not many materials on the LWVUS Money in Politics Review website, but Leaguers anxious to get started on looking at what is there may wish to look at the LWVUS Money in Politics Meetings in a Box web page now + as of this writing you will find a glossary of MIP terms (Dark Money, Hard Money, Soft Money . . . ) and an interesting table on the history of Campaign Finance Regulation, 1907-2014.

The COAST League will hold a consensus meeting in time to submit our responses to this Study, which are due February 1, 2016.

Where Do I Belong? As a member of a local League, you are also a member of Orange County's Inter League Organization (ILO), the League of Women Voters of California (LWVC) and the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS). So + all of these Studies are your Studies, too!

What Should I be Doing Now?

ILO's League of Women Voters Study: Money in Orange County Politics:

  • Save these dates: 9/19, 10/17 and 11/7 for the Study sessions to be held on the Sisters of St. Joseph campus in Orange, all on Saturday mornings from 10 + 12.

  • Watch your email and the Voter for announcements of when Study materials will be available online. LWVUS Constitutional Amendment Study & LWVUS Money in Politics Review: If one or both of these topics are dear to your heart:

  • Go to the Study's website and get started on background reading now.

  • PLEASE volunteer to work on preparing this Study for presentation to the rest of COAST League. Our work on the Study will only be as good as the preparation we are able to do for the Consensus Meeting. Both committees will start meeting in August. If you would like to be on one or both of the committees + or if you have questions + please phone or email Becky Newman, COAST's Government Chair (949-786-1669; We will have one committee for the Constitutional Amendment Study and one for the Money in Politics Review.

  • Remember: The heavy lifting is being done by the LWVUS committee conducting the Study; our job will be much smaller!

  • Whether or not you can volunteer for a committee, watch your email and the Voter for more information about COAST's review of the Study materials and the date of our Consensus meeting.