Studies are part of League Program and, in League parlance, League Program includes all of the positions the League uses to affect public policy as well as the procedure for adopting these programs. Program is such an integral part of the League that, according to League Basics, “Program is the League’s reason for being.”
Program has three parts: 1) selection of an issue, 2) study of that issue, consensus and formulating a position, and 3) use of that position to influence public policy. All LWVUS positions are included in the League publication, Impact on Issues, 2012-2014: A Guide to Public Policy Positions, http://www.lwv.org/content/impact-issues.
This guide briefly covers how we got here, and, secondly, the perspective of participating in a national study at the local level. The purpose of a study, at any level, is to educate members so that they can be informed participants in consensus and provide the necessary data for formulating the ultimate position.
Additional information about conducting a national study is on the LWVUS website at “Guidelines for LWVUS Studies,” http://www.lwv.org/content/guidelines-lwvus-studies. \
Selection of an issue begins with the Program Planning each League is asked to do. This is where the local Leagues identify issues that deserve a study at the national level or updates of existing positions.
These are issues where the LWVUS has no position, and, therefore, cannot act. Remember, Leagues cannot take action without a position.
During Program Planning before the 2012 Convention, many Leagues expressed an interest in the agriculture issue. The Agriculture Update was brought to the convention floor as a not-recommended item and adopted by the delegates to Convention 2012. Step one completed.
Study and consensus began right after Convention when the LWVUS Board appointed a study committee chair, set up the process for selecting the committee, and approved a preliminary scope and timeline for the study. This set the parameters for the study committee’s work.
The study committee’s first task was to review and suggest modifications as appropriate to the scope for the study. A scope describes the limits of the study, describes areas to explore and often includes focus areas. The culminating position will address only those issues delineated in the scope. The scope of this Agriculture Update was approved by the LWVUS Board and distributed to local Leagues to give them direction during the study process.
Scope of the Study
The scope of the study, as adopted by the LWVUS Board, states:
The Agriculture Update will focus narrowly on: 1) current technology issues in agriculture including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), herbicides, pesticides, agriculture water pollution, water technology, antibiotics in livestock, and accurate food labeling; and 2) current agriculture finance issues including consolidation in agriculture industries, crop subsidies and the federal agricultural regulatory process.
The study committee began its work of refining the areas to be studied, researching and writing background information about the different areas contained in the scope, and preparing consensus questions and other materials to help direct local League discussion to consensus. All of these materials are/will be posted at http://www.lwv.org/member-resources/agriculture-update.
As each local League reports its consensus (or lack thereof) the reports are consolidated, and, based on this information, a committee formulates the position which, when approved by the Board, can be used for action.
Remaining Timeline for the Study
Feb. 2013 - April 2014
State and local Leagues may form study committees, examine relevant materials, hold public meetings, etc.
Jan. - April 2014
State and local Leagues hold consensus meetings.
Jan. - April 2014
Education Fund Committee proposes and Board appoints Member Agreement Committee.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Deadline for consensus reports via electronic survey form only. (There is no paper form.)
Member Agreement Committee decides if consensus was reached, and if so, proposes a new position statement to the Education Fund Committee, which then proposes it to the full Board for adoption.
Consensus result or new position statement is announced before Convention.