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Report from the Hill

League of Women Voters US update: League's national program priorities were established early this year based on external realities and internal League resources. The five program priorities adopted were:

Advocate for the Voter - Voter registration reform and campaign finance are the two legislative issues. In February by a two-to-one margin, the House of Representatives approved bipartisan legislation that would make applying to register to vote as simple as getting a driver's license. Commonly known as "motor-voter," this act is expected to add millions of eligible Americans to the registration rolls. Noted in League's Report from the Hill, was the fact that more than half the states and the District of Columbia have mail-in registration programs.

H.R. 2190, supported by LWVUS, would allow citizens to apply automatically to register to vote when they apply for, renew or change address on a driver's license or official identification card. These methods of reaching segments of the population that typically have low registration rates - people less that 30 years of age, who have never attended college, earn less than $25,000 annually or have recently moved from one election district to another are two of the changes proposed.

Campaign for a Safer World - U.S.-Soviet arms control agreement and Conventional Arms Treaties, Strategic Defense Initiative and MX missiles all come under this heading.

League will focus on citizen education work directed toward creating public understanding of U.S. national security and fiscal policies and the links between these and U.S. interests.

Funding has been received to proceed with an Economic Policy Project. A May seminar will be held in Washington, D.C.; a primer for citizens will be published and a video targeted to high school and college students are part of the project.

Child Care and Housing - League has two thrusts with this area; support of key legislation and an Education Fund project focus League resources.

League urged key lawmakers to include new grants strictly for state child care initiatives - the ABC program - in final child care legislation. The question of how to channel money for child car to the states has held up passage.

The League and other members of the ABC Coalition are concerned that child care will have to compete with other social programs; they ask for assurance that publicly funded care is safe and decent quality.

LWVEF's School-Age Child Care Project has been funded; it is a two-year project to assist local Leagues to serve as catalysts for the development of school-age child care programs. Its priority focus on child care and housing will be carried out by offering a training conference, technical assistance to local Leagues, pass-through grants and a community action guide.

Reproductive Choice - League is joining the national Pro-Choice Coalition as well as continuing to lobby, testify and use Action Alerts as a means of staying abreast of this issue.

H.R. 3700 in the House and S.1912 in the Senate have attracted bi-partisan support. Under this "Freedom of Choice Act," states would be prohibited from interfering with a woman's right to end a pregnancy before fetal viability or, at any time, if necessary to protect her life and health.

League President Nancy Neuman states," ...(R)eproductive choice has become a matter of chance; in some states, constitutional rights will be fully protected, while in others, efforts will be undertaken to undermine those same rights. More than ever before, a woman's right to privacy will be reserved only for those who can afford it." as she explains why national legislation must not restrict reproductive choices without excessive government restrictions.

Tackling Toxics - Clean air, nuclear wastes, solid waste and water issues underscore the need for continued work on toxics.

The funded Recycling Project will allow LWVEF to produce and disseminate educational materials on newspaper recycling; a new edition of the acclaimed Nuclear Waste Primer is desired and a video on the Safe Drinking Water Project will be completed this year.

After weeks of negotiations, Senate leaders and the Administration agreed on a clean air "compromise" that falls short of measures needed to protect citizens from toxic air pollution and urban smog. With the exception of new acid rain controls, the League and other environmental groups were disappointed with the bargain struck by negotiators.

"This is a Clean Air Act that fails to deliver clean air," said League President Nancy Neuman. Senator Lautenberg (D NJ) told The Washington Post, "What we have is better than present conditions but less than the environment deserves." The League and other coalition members are urging lawmakers to support strengthening amendments.

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