LWVAZ Nonpartisan Policy
The League of Women Voters does not support or oppose any political party or candidate. However, the LWVAZ/EF Board values the many skills and types of experience that individual board members bring to the League, including those learned in public life through elective or appointive office. In fact, involvement in the public and political life of this country is something that the League of Women Voters recommends for all citizens and other members of the public.
Nevertheless, the LWVAZ/EF Board believes that some basic limitations on board members’ political activity, while they are serving in this capacity, are necessary to protect the nonpartisanship of the League as an organization.
The following policy guidelines therefore attempt to balance the goals of nonpartisanship and the public/political participation of LWVAZ/EF leaders in their communities. This policy shall be reviewed and amended or readopted by the LWVAZ/EF Board at the beginning of each new year.
- Members of the Board of Directors shall be diligently nonpartisan and they shall avoid any appearance to the contrary, when representing the League of Women Voters. Board Members shall take great care that all meetings of the LWVAZ/EF adhere strictly to our nonpartisan policy.
- Elected Office. A Board member shall not run for, nor hold, any partisan elective office at the state or local level of government. A Board member may run for or hold a local non-partisan elective office, after consultation with and approval by the LWVAZ/EF Board and the president of the affected local League.
- Political Party Office. Board members shall not serve in any political party position at the state or county level.
- Political Campaigns. Board members shall not chair or administer fundraising or political campaigns, chair a campaign event, or work in any significant way for a national, state or county candidate. “Significant way” would generally mean in such a way that a Board member’s name could be readily connected by the general public to a candidate’s campaign. Certain Board members may undertake activities on the local level (participating in a campaign’s community service activity, for example) after consultation with the State Board.
- 5. Nominating Petitions for candidates. Board Members, except for the President and those League members working on statewide Voter Service programs, may sign a nominating petition for a candidate running at the state level.
- Social and Other Media. A Board member shall not indicate her/his political affiliations or candidate preferences in any media format that also prominently identifies her/him as a member of the LWVAZ/EF Board, such as by a name and title. Personal statements shall be kept to personal sites.
- Additional Clarification. Board members shall present other issues about nonpartisanship to the LWVAZ/EF Board in situations where the foregoing policies do not resolve the question.
Criteria for LWVAZ for Advocacy
Here are the questions we ask when determining which legislation to follow:
- What are the priority issues for LWV to follow?
- What is the League position on those issues – based on our positions at the state and/or national level?
- What change are we attempting to achieve?
To help us in this area we also have the League principles that give us overarching guidance on any issues we are working on.
Request To Speak (RTS)
Request To Speak Information. This is the tool that Arizona Citizens can use to have their comments read into the record when bills are under consideration in the COW (Committee Of the Whole). Herein you will find information on how the RTS works, how to register on the RTS, get LWVAZ Action Alerts, and see past Action Alerts.
Elections and Campaign Finance Reform
ARIZONA ELECTION SYSTEMS AND LAW
- The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports an accessible system of voter registration and election participation, with uniform and standardized procedures throughout the state.
- The League of Women Voters of Arizona believes in the election system principle that “every vote should count”. Providing for the broadest voter representation possible in elections should have a positive effect on voter participation.
- The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports measures to ensure the regular redistricting of Arizona legislative and congressional districts on an “equal population” basis.
- The League of Women Voters of Arizona believes that the political process must be open, equitable and honest. The process must provide opportunity for maximum citizen participation as candidates, uninhibited by the costs of running a campaign. There should be limits on the size and type of campaign contributions. There should be full disclosure of contributions and expenditures to combat undue influence in the electoral and governmental processes.
- The League of Women Voters of Arizona believes in the constitutional right of the people to enact direct legislation (enacting, amending, or repealing legislative acts and amending the Arizona Constitution).
Election SystemsThe LWVAZ supports the following registration procedures, voting options, and voting systems in addition to those required under the National Voting Rights Act (VRA), Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). All registration procedures, voting options and systems should be accessible to all, easy to administer, and have appropriate security measures to prevent fraud or technology disruptions.Voter Registration Procedures:
- Automatic registration
- Universal registration
- Permanent portable registration
- Mail-in registration
- Online registration
- Early voting in person and by mail
- Traditional polling places
- Voting Centers
- The LWVAZ supports a voting system that would more accurately represent the electorate, specifically the Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) system for single seat races, and the adoption of proportional representation for multi-seat races.
- The LWVAZ supports the monitoring of vote counting in state and local elections.
- The LWVAZ supports increased voter education as an essential part of all elections.
Legislative and Congressional Redistricting The LWVAZ supports:
- The retention of an independent commission to redistrict legislative and congressional districts at regular intervals, subject to judicial review. The Legislature itself should not be the reapportioning agency.
- Legislative districts that provide equitable representation, accountability and responsibility, competitive elections, and close contact with constituents. (Footnote: To allow for greater flexibility, this position was amended on March 5, 2005, by removing the words “single member.” As background information, three points were made: 1) impacts may differ in rural and urban districts, 2) the change is neither an automatic endorsement for multi-member districts nor an automatic opposition to single member districts, 3) even members who strongly favor multi-member districts often do so only when such districts are accompanied by other electoral changes.)
Campaign FinanceThe LWVAZ supports:
- An income tax check-off to provide partial funding of legislative elections through the subsidy of some television time for issue discussion by ballot qualified candidates.
- A requirement for complete financial disclosure by candidates for public office.
- A cap on gifts to public officials, and reporting of all gifts.
- Prohibiting elected officials lobbying for remuneration of any kind for at least one year after leaving office.
- Prohibiting election officials from using surplus campaign funds for personal use, or from taking them along when leaving office.
- All government agencies being required to report all their lobbying activities, expenditures and gifts to public officials.
Initiative & Referendum The LWVAZ supports:
- The requirement that only qualified electors (registered voters) may sign any initiative, referendum or recall petition.
- The reduction of the required number of signatures on a statutory initiative petition to qualify placing it on the ballot from ten percent to not more than eight percent of the votes cast for governor at the last gubernatorial election.
- The amendment of the constitution to limit the power of the Legislature to repeal or amend the initiative or referendum measures by means such as requiring more than just majority approval, or setting a minimum time limit before the Legislature can act on such measures, or some other limitation short of complete elimination of power.
- The disclosure of financial contributions to committees supporting and opposing an initiative and referendum.
Education in Arizona
Public School FinanceThe Arizona State Constitution states that the legislature shall enact such laws as shall provide for the establishment and maintenance of a general and uniform public school system, which system shall include: 1. Kindergarten schools. 2. Common schools. 3. High schools. 4. Normal schools. 5. Industrial schools. 6. Universities…and for the care and education for hearing and vision impaired students. The state constitution declares that the revenue for the maintenance of the state’s educational institutions shall be derived from the investment of the proceeds of the sale and rental of trust lands and from “appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.” (Arizona Const., Article XI, Sec. 10)As the Arizona Constitution recognizes education’s importance, so too does the League of Women Voters of Arizona (LWVAZ) see the importance of high quality education for this state’s citizens: 1) to lead satisfying lives, 2) to qualify for the increasingly challenging jobs in today’s and tomorrow’s economy, and 3) to function successfully as informed citizens of the United States’ democracy.Therefore, the LWVAZ supports funding of a public education system that results in the uniform opportunity for all students to master the attitudes, knowledge, and skills necessary to thrive in a competitive and changing world.More specifically, the LWVAZ supports the following:Funding for Quality
- The primary goal of state and local school governing bodies is the achievement of the best quality education for the students in their districts / schools.
- The establishment of criteria for a best quality education for all students must be made prior to determining the formula for the distribution of monies
- The criteria must be based always on current research, thought, and best practices regarding teaching and learning, and other factors impacting academic success such as school readiness, attendance, parent engagement, and enrichment programs beyond the normal school day / calendar year.
Collection of FundsFunds for education in Arizona are collected through district property taxes and equalized through state income and sales taxes from the State’s General Fund. In addition, the League supports:
- Continued use of the state trust land’s income from the Permanent Fund Investments. Funds determined through a public initiative or referendum.
- Funds generated through development impact fees.
- Bond and override funds determined by a majority of district voters.
Adequate Funding FormulaThe LWVAZ recognizes the inequities of the local school property tax. Therefore, the League supports a state funding formula which provides for:
- Decreased reliance on the local school district property tax and increased reliance on statewide taxes for support of public school education.
- Taxation by the state legislature to support public schools by a simple majority vote.
- An inflation allowance
- A defined basic amount of money for each student.
- Financing over and above the basic amount to ensure equal opportunity for each student.
- Uniform maintenance of buildings.
- Uniform supplies.
- Nationally competitive salaries that recognize strong leaders, as well as experience and quality teaching.
- New monies that do not supplant present state funding.
Distribution of FundsThe LWVAZ supports a uniform distribution of state funds to include:
- Capital funding.
- Additional allocations which are made based on recognition of differences in needs among district schools and between district and charter schools.
- Funds for special needs of students.
- Funds for the entire duration of mandated programs.
- Allocations for social services for students and their families.
- Allocations for safe, adequate and reliable transportation separate from base maintenance and operation support.
- All schools using public funds, including public charter schools, will be held fiscally accountable and will be held to same standards of transparent operation that ensure fiscal accountability.
- The district and charter school budget format should call for specific information, such as program detail, salary schedules, and capital improvement programs
The LWVAZ opposes tax “credits” and funding schemes that divert and distort the distribution of funds intended to ensure a quality education for all children in Arizona public schools.Therefore, the LWVAZ opposes vouchers to private schools, tuition tax credits, waivers, or direct payments to parents for school expenses of their children (as in Empowerment Scholarship Accounts). Public funds should be used only for public schools.Local Participation in Decision Making & Distribution of FundsThe LWVAZ supports the principle that the governmental entity closest to the school district constituency can best make decisions that will enhance the equal educational opportunity for all students. Therefore, the League urges these policies:
- The state distributes funds uniformly to public school districts and charters, and sets minimal general educational guidelines without inhibiting local decision making.
- The state will maintain a policy of local control on spending decisions, including ability to bond for school renovation and for capital improvements, as well as measures to equalize the ability of school districts to finance those portions of their budgets for which they are responsible on the local level.
- Local district and charter school governing bodies determine how funds are allocated in school budgets.
The LWVAZ, always encouraging responsive government and informed citizen participation, believes that citizen participation is essential, in the district and charter school budgeting process. Therefore, the League supports the following:
- Advisory committees open to all citizens in the school community that provide citizen input into the district and public charter school budgetary processes.
- Timely citizen input into the district or public charter school budgetary process that allows for informed citizen influence on the allocation of funds in the budget.
Public Education Instruction Academic AssessmentsThe LWVAZ believes that no single assessment should be the deciding factor for graduation from high school. Therefore, the League supports a diploma being awarded to students who satisfactorily complete their course work.The LWVAZ supports the use of district, state and/or other government-mandated assessments for the following purposes:
- Identifying and alleviating students’ academic difficulties in a timely manner;
- Identifying necessary changes in curriculum, methods, and materials.
The LWVAZ believes it is important for district and/or statewide assessments to be well-crafted, meaningful, and well-matched with the Arizona Standards.Therefore, the League supports the following:
- Utilizing Arizona K-12 educators to develop and write the questions for district and/or statewide assessments and educators from institutions of higher learning to evaluate these tests in their areas of expertise.
- Validating the tests to be sure they reflect the Arizona Standards and appropriate grade level academic proficiency.
If state and/or government-mandated assessment testing is required for high school graduation in Arizona, the League recognizes that provisions need to be made for those who fail. Therefore, the League supports retesting students who fail required state and/or government-mandated assessment(s) during their high school years.Curricular areas not specifically tested or required as part of state and/or government-mandated assessments (such as vocational/technical/career education, visual and performing arts, social studies, science, health and physical education) shall be encouraged and shall not be curtailed.Charter SchoolsThe LWVAZ acknowledges that charter schools are public schools that are privately operated. Therefore, the League supports the following for charter schools:
- Provide charter schools more initial direction as they are started and organized, and continued oversight to comply with legal requirements.
- Hold charter schools to the same high standards as all Arizona public district schools.
- Charter schools that close must provide proper and timely notification to students’ parents/guardians, as well as plan for an orderly transfer of students to an academically appropriate alternative. Further, charter school operators must return property purchased with state funds and return any unspent state funds that have been appropriated from the Arizona General Fund.
With respect to Charter Schools, the LWVAZ also has the following concerns:
- Funding for charter schools may negatively impact funds available for public district schools.
- Charter schools may not be utilizing standardized sequential curriculum.
Additional Education Polices & Practices: The LWVAZ supports the following policies and practices that relate to public district and charter schools:
- All public schools should be permitted and encouraged to innovate. They must be allowed flexibility on class size, length of school day, teaching techniques, and special subject focus (such as science, the arts, technology).
- All public district and charter school teachers must be certified by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) as “well-qualified”.
- Annual and equitable academic evaluation of charter and district schools should occur.
- The ADE should be sufficiently staffed to ensure student achievement is properly monitored in both public district and charter schools.
- The school curriculum for both public district and charter schools must comply with standards set by the Arizona State Board of Education.
- School ranking must not be based solely on test scores.
- Public information about public district and charters schools must be accessible to all.
- An efficient system of tracking students as they move between schools/participate in open enrollment or other school choice options must be developed and adopted.
- School districts should be reorganized only if doing so will enhance the education of all students in the reorganized districts.
Social Policies in Arizona
REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE Concurrence 1983; Reviewed 1995 The League of Women Voters of Arizona believes in the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices.HUMAN NEEDS Consensus 1971; Revised 1985; Reviewed 1995, Amended 2007 The League of Women of Arizona supports a state system that provides for a positive program to assist the economically disadvantaged in obtaining a greater measure of financial, physical and personal well-being, with emphasis on meeting basic human needs rather than on maintaining minimum expenditures.In order to assist persons in need, to assure the basic essentials of health and adequate standards of living, reduce dependency, and break the welfare cycle, the state of Arizona should:
- Assure supportive programs and services integrated with those for the general public on an available-to-pay basis, including legal services, comprehensive health care, child care, transportation, family planning, home management, family counseling, vocational training, and educational enrichment.
- Work with private and public agencies, and utilize community services to the fullest.
- Encourage recipients to work when possible, with child care, counseling, job training and financial incentives available and to participate in program development and implementation.
- Disseminate information on welfare programs and interpret the needs of the community to the public.
- Provide adequate funds for capable, qualified staff, manageable case loads, information and referral services, and accessible office facilities.
- Administer funds and programs wisely, according to sound management and accounting principles, while preserving the rights and dignity of recipients
VICTIMIZATION OF CHILDREN AND INTRAFAMILIAL ABUSE Adopted 1985; Revised 1995The League of Women Voters of Arizona believes that government, both state and local, including the state legislature and state and local agencies, should assure that necessary services are readily available to serve and protect the abused. These persons should be the focus of careful and timely long- range planning by these agencies and by the courts.Adequate resource allocations shall be made within child protective and state agency budgets, within police and law enforcement budgets, and within the court system to assure the proper training and education of those who deal with these issues. The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports violence prevention programs in all communities and action to support:
- Public and private development and coordination of programs that emphasize the primary prevention of violence.
- The active role of government and social institutions in preventing violent behavior.
- The allocation of public monies in government programs to prevent violence.
Branches of Government in Arizona
ARIZONA EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENTThe League of Women Voters of Arizona supports measures to strengthen the executive branch of state government, and to integrate its administration by centralizing authority and responsibility in the governor’s office.The League of Women Voters of Arizona believes that a clear line of succession in the Executive Branch of the State of Arizona should be more obvious to the public than it is in the current system where the Secretary of State assumes the role of Governor in times of absence, removal, resignation, death or other such changes. To avoid mid-term changes in party, continuity problems or policy reversals, League of Women Voters of Arizona supports the creation of an Office of Lieutenant Governor with duties separate from that of the Secretary of State.In addition, the League of Women Voters of Arizona believes that the governor and the elected office, which is next in line of succession to the governor, should run on the same party ticket. If that office continues to be held by the Secretary of State, League of Women Voters Arizona strongly believe that all partisan aspects of elections should be removed from the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State and managed by an independent body/commission. ARIZONA LEGISLATIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENTThe League of Women Voters of Arizona supports a legislative bill-making process that protects the citizen’s right to know by giving adequate notice of proposed actions, providing opportunities for timely public input, holding open meetings and making public records accessible.The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports four-year terms for all State Legislators, with no limit on the number of terms which they may serve.The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports strong, enforceable conflict of interest legislation.Expansion of the support statement:Public service is a public trust, requiring officials and employees to place loyalty to the citizens, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain. Following ethical guidelines and eliminating any improprieties, or even the appearance of potential corruption, is imperative to restoring the public’s trust in government. The public has a right to expect public officials to put interests of the general citizenry above those of the personal interest of the official, his/her family, any special interest groups or dark money groups that may have or continue to provide financial support to them. The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports strict adherence to the ethical principles which avoid any improprieties or the appearance thereof by full conflict of interest disclosure and voter recusal provisions. To determine whether a substantial interest exists, the public officer should ask:
- Could the decision affect, either positively or negatively, an interest of the officer or employee or the officer’s or employee’s relative?
- Is the interest a pecuniary or proprietary interest? Could it affect a financial interest or ownership interest?
- Is the interest something that is not statutorily designated as a remote interest?
If the answer to each of these questions is yes, then a substantial interest exists that requires disclosure and disqualification by the public officer or employee. The public officer or employee must file a conflict of interest form which fully discloses the substantial interest with the appropriate agency or governmental unit, and must refrain from participating in any manner in discussions or decisions relating to the matter.The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports increase in pay for legislators.ARIZONA JUDICIAL BRANCH OF GOVERNMENTThe League of Women Voters of Arizona supports the selection of judges by appointment, with voter approval for retention; adequate judicial salaries; longer terms; higher qualifications for justices of the peace and magistrates; a judicial nominating commission, responsible to the governor; and a competency review commission.To assure that our judges are free of political bias and possessed of the proper qualities of temperament and intellect, and yet retain ultimate control of the courts in the hands of the people.The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports:
- Appointment of judges by the governor from list of qualified nominees submitted by a bipartisan commission of legal and lay members.
- Retention of a judge in office, after an established period of time, only by a “yes” vote of the people, a “no” vote requiring a new appointment by the governor.
(This system of judicial selection and tenure was implemented in Pima, Maricopa and Pinal counties after they reached the constitutionally required population of 250,000. Counties not having reached that population can adopt merit selection by a vote of their electorate. Although we have basically accomplished our goal, we retain the position because in each session of the Legislature, there are efforts to return to the old elective system.)JUVENILE JUSTICE The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports early intervention programs beginning in elementary schools with the help of:
- counselors, social workers, psychologists, volunteers in school programs and individualized programs, including those that foster self-esteem,
- clinics on parenting skill
- conflict resolution skills training,
- drug education. Funding for the above should come from federal, state, local, private and corporate sources.
The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports measures for adequate funding with emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation, incarceration and non-incarceration facilities, and intervention programs, trained personnel and education for parents of problem children. State funding should be dispersed to the local levels.The League of Women Voters of Arizona believes that programs and policies should be adopted which promote rehabilitation and education within the Juvenile Justice system and should include:
- schooling while in detention,
- counseling for the family and the individual while in detention,
- alternative living and educational programs and experiences to prevent and discontinue gang involvement.
The League Women Voters of Arizona believes that for the protection of the community and schools, delinquent children should:
- receive swift and firm justice,
- be removed from dysfunctional homes after family intervention and long-term family counseling,
- and be treated as an individual according to the age, need and type of crime and be sent first to juvenile court.
The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports laws that include:
- swift punishment for weapon possession by juveniles,
- swift and harsh punishment of adults who provide weapons to juveniles,
- the exchange of records among schools, court and social agencies but not to the public or the media,
- a juvenile hearing before transfer to adult court.
The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports the concept of an approach to juvenile problems through Restorative Justice programs, which give priority to and accountability for wrongdoing by repairing the damage or harm done to victims and the community through a process of victim involvement, community participation, mediation and reparation. Skilled mediators should be involved in this process.LOWER COURT REFORM The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports legislation which would give Arizona counties the option to consolidate their lower courts in order to promote uniformity in the administration and quality of justice, and effectiveness and efficiency in court administration.
Consensus 1975; Reviewed 1995
The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports:
- Action to achieve a physical environment beneficial to life, with emphasis on achieving an optimum balance between human needs and the carrying capacity of the land and its resources.
- Statewide land use planning which should include economic, social and environmental components, basic services, transportation, new concepts of community design, the best use of resource conservation measures in land use planning, with emphasis on the effects of population growth and distribution.
- Measures to preserve open space and natural habitat, identify and regulate areas of critical concern, including fragile areas, historic areas, riparian habitats, renewable resource lands, and natural hazard lands.
- Statewide authority over areas and activities outside of local government jurisdiction, or which their governmental bodies fail to regulate.
- Protection of private property in accordance with the Fifth Amendment, but retaining the government’s right to regulate the use of land through its power to protect the public health, welfare and safety, the decision whether a regulation constitutes a partial taking should be determined by the courts.
- Requirements for evaluation of economic, social and environmental impacts of major land use projects, whether initiated by government agencies or by private interests.
- Policies which assure the quality of the environment for people of all economic levels.
- Increased coordination and communication among land use agencies at all levels of government, and between those agencies and the public.
- Requiring any boards, commissions or agencies having authority or responsibility over land use planning to be comprised of individuals representing a balance of diverse citizen interests and concerns.
- Public input into all stages of planning and decision making.
- Increased technical and financial assistance to localities for growth management, encouragement of local communities to use innovative planning and regulatory techniques, and to incorporate measures to conserve energy, integrate transportation planning, consider availability of water and other resources.
Consensus 1975, 1979; Revised 1995, Amended 2009
The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports the following goals:
Water resource management should ensure:
- The sustainability and long term productivity of water resources of the state and their future availability at reasonable costs. Reasonable cost is defined as costs that fairly and accurately reflect the value of this precious resource.
- The equitable utilization of water resources.
- Conservation of water resources.
- Prevention of harmful contamination of our surface and groundwater supplies from all sources.
- Coordination at all levels of government (federal, state and local) in planning for and managing water resources.
- Availability of detailed information on all groundwater withdrawal and hydraulic characteristics of aquifers.
- Energy consideration to be included as part of any water management plan.
- Public participation at all levels of water resource management planning. Arizona water laws should:
- Reflect the hydrologic cycle and treat all water as interrelated.
- Recognize and provide for physical differences between various areas of the state.
- Define and quantify ground and surface rights.
- Consider priority of use and coordination of planning for water and land if water rights are transferred.
- Recognize riparian habitats as beneficial use.
- Assure that riparian habitats and in stream flows are protected when any new water rights are granted, or when there are water exchanges or changed uses.
- Clarify and strengthen in stream flow rights.
- Provide for incentives for stream/habitat restoration.
- Provide authority to:
- Monitor water use;
- Limit non-beneficial or wasteful use;
- Limit new water uses in areas of long-term shortages;
- Decide which users should have priorities in times of shortages.
The administration of the above should be determined at the state level, with emphasis on implementation and enforcement at the local or regional level.
Require conservation of water by large individual users, such as large industries and agricultural entities, and encourage conservation by all other users. Tax incentives should be utilized.