Making Democracy Work

League of Women Voters of the Helena Area

Who We Are

The League of Women Voters of the Helena Area (LWVHA) is a non-profit, non-partisan political organization that neither supports nor opposes candidates or political parties at any level of government, but we work on vital issues of concern to members and the public. We have been active in the Helena Area since 1952. The League has three levels: national, state and local. We are a local league affiliated with the League of Women Voters of Montana (LWVMT) and the League of Women Voters of the U.S. (LWVUS).

The League at all levels encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. We carry out our mission by registering voters, sponsoring candidate forums and advocate in favor or against issues of local interest to the members and public.

Before taking a position on an issue, the league studies the issue, educates members and determines a position based on fact with member consensus. We also educate the public through forums, written material and other communications.

Our Leaders

Presiding Officer: Barbara Martin, HelenaPresidingOfficer@lwvnet.org
Assistant Presiding Officer: Sue Hoell
Treasurer: Marcy McLean
Voter Editor: Julie Huntington
Board of Directors:
  Barbara Harris
  Lynn Jennings
  Joan Bishop
  Mait Board
  Claudette Morton

Join Us

While our name may lead you to believe otherwise, we welcome men and women as members. When you join us, you get the Helena and LWVMT and LWVUS (electronic) newsletters and online access to Helena, LWVMT and LWVUS websites.

We meet every third Tuesday of the month in the small conference room at Lewis and Clark Library from noon until 1:00. Our meetings are informal and we often have a speaker on issues of interest to us. We hold our annual business meeting in the spring. Our meetings are open and we invite you to join us to see if we're a good match for you.

The amount of time members devote to the League depends on their schedules and interests. You can be as active as you like.

For more information, contact Joy Bruck, HelenaMembership@lwvmt.org

Dues are $45.00 per year. Send your check to:

    Marcy McLean, Treasurer
    League of Women Voters of the Helena Area
    PO Box 6534
    Helena, MT 59604

Calendar of Events

May 20, 2014 - A discussion of the most recent Redistricting Process. Guests include Rachel Weiss and Susan Fox from the Legislative Council.

June 17, 2014 - To be determined

July 15, 2014 - To be determined

Legislative Referendum 126

Existing National, State, and Local League Positions support Voting Rights. LR 126 proposes to reduce voting rights for Montanans by removing the existing right to register and vote on election day.

Have you ever gone to your designated polling place and been surprised to find that your name is not on the list of Voters? If LR 126 passes you can be denied your right to vote for the following invalid reasons....

Snowbirds and military folks who do not receive/return an address verification mailing, can be removed from the list. If LR 126 succeeds, those who have recently moved, married, or whose registration may have been lost or mistakenly deleted, could be denied the right to vote. You most likely will not know that your name is not on the list until you go to the polls on election day. It could happen to any of us.

The LWV wants every qualified voter to have the right to vote, including those who don't find out until election day that they have been erroneously removed or omitted from the voting rolls.

Where We Stand

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF THE HELENA AREA
POSITION STATEMENTS

The League of Women Voters is a non-profit, non-partisan political organization that neither supports nor opposes candidates or political parties at any level of government, but we work on vital issues of concern to members and the public. Before taking a position on an issue, the league studies the issue, educates members and determines a position based on fact with member consensus.

Land Use Planning and Growth in the Helena Area (Compilation and revision of 2000 land use position and 2002 growth position adopted May 2012)

The League of Women Voters of the Helena Area recognizes that growth and development will occur in Helena, the Helena Valley, the North Hills and surrounding areas, but strongly believes such growth should occur in ways that do not cause dangerous or unhealthy impacts on citizens, the environment, and the public infrastructure of the area, and that taxpayers should not be held responsible for funding cleanup costs of irresponsible development.

The League knows it is difficult and expensive to return contaminated ground water supplies to pristine condition and believes best management practices must be utilized before contamination occurs. We encourage the Helena City Commission, Lewis and Clark County Commission and surrounding county and municipal government representatives to work cooperatively to provide appropriate funding and resources to support the serious planning necessary to avert septic and storm water related problems across arbitrary boundaries.

Indeed, the League supports a comprehensive strategy for growth that makes water quality a prime priority. Strong enforcement components should be included in any plan, along with a process for how proposed subdivisions will be evaluated and ruled on.

We support action that maintains or improves upon Environmental Protection Agency, State of Montana and local air quality standards. We also support expansion of the hazardous waste definition used in the state and national LWV positions to include anything that increases the toxicity levels of water and/or soil.

Transportation, telecommunications, utilities, law enforcement, fire protection and emergency services should also be adequately addressed in the planning process.

League encourages public participation in all planning, including processes for infrastructure review and zoning districts.

Water Quality in the Helena Area (Adopted May 2012)

Located just east of the Continental Divide, the City of Helena, Montana and its surrounding valley are experiencing marked population growth with attendant proliferation of onsite waste water systems. Further, this Lake Helena Watershed is impacted by mining, fisheries, agriculture, storm water runoff, nutrients of various sorts, and drugs. Significant concerns abound and remind us that water issues are of utmost importance in our area.

The League of Women Voters of the Helena Area supports:

  • Water resource programs and policies that reflect the interrelationships of water quality, water quantity, groundwater and surface water and that address the potential depletion or pollution of water supplies in the Lake Helena Watershed and the surrounding Helena area;
  • Measures to reduce water pollution from direct point-source discharges and from indirect nonpoint sources;
  • Policies to achieve water quality essential for maintaining species populations and diversity, including measures to protect lakes, estuaries, and wetlands;
  • Stringent controls to protect the quality of current and potential drinking water supplies, including protection of watersheds for surface supplies and of recharge areas for groundwater;
  • Wise use of the area's water resources, while protecting existing water rights and uses, in stream flows and reservations for future needs.

Schools (Adopted 9/27/1982 and revised 4/20/1995)

We support expanded community involvement in schools, increased voter education concerning school board candidates and an update by the school administration and school board of Title IX evaluation.

County Government (Adopted 1/24/1984 and revised 11/15/1995)

The Helena LWV supports a local governing body with self-government powers (home rule) as essential for a fair and efficient government.

The following minimum provisions for a self-government charter for Lewis & Clark County:

  • A clear separation of the legislative and the administrative functions;
  • A part-time elected legislative body (preferably selected in nonpartisan elections) with responsibilities to make and adopt government policies for a central budgetary and revenue function and for establishing of an equitable personnel system;
  • An administrative function headed by a single administrative officer (executive) (preferably appointed by the county commissioners) who appoints and removes all employees, except those directly under elected officials, and administers the personnel system;
  • An amendment procedure which requires that all amendments be made by a vote of the electors;
  • And, provisions to assure that all citizens be fairly represented and have opportunities for direct input to the decision making process.

Consolidation of Local Government Services (Adopted 1/1992)

The League of Women Voters believes that the consolidation of certain local government services or function on an incremental basis is better than a complete consolidation of city and county governments into one entity.

Those areas of governmental service more appropriately handled by one local governmental agency rather than by both a city and county agency include: land management; zoning; recreation; parks; transportation; environment; public health; water; sewers; schools; libraries; law enforcement; purchasing; data processing; maintenance services; records management; payroll/bookkeeping; personnel; and legal services. Some of these services have already been wholly or partially consolidated. Others need further research and implementation in order to achieve greater efficiency, better planning, and sounder economics.

The League does not support complete consolidation of local government in Lewis & Clark County at this time because it believes that tradition and political factors would make any such proposal unlikely to attract the necessary public support. League members believe that there are no structural, representational, or fiscal barriers to designing an effective and accountable consolidated government should that become a viable option in the future.

To the extent permitted by law, local government in the county should be encouraged to share equipment, expertise, and resources in providing services to the public.

This position will not affect the ability of the LWV of the Helena Area to advocate for or against the adoption of any local government study commission by the voters of the city or county. The League board may determine that a study commission is the best means for bringing about accountable and efficient local government in keeping with this and other related League positions.

Tax Reform (Adopted 11/10/1992, amended 4/17/2001 and 4/17/2007) The Helena LWV supports a fair and equitable tax system which includes giving local governments the ability to use alternative sources of revenue.

How We Work

BYLAWS OF THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF THE HELENA AREA

ARTICLE I
Name

The name of this organization shall be League of Women Voters of the Helena Area hereinafter referred to in these bylaws as LWVHA or as the League. This local League is an integral part of the League of Women Voters of the United States, hereinafter referred to in these bylaws as LWVUS, and of the League of Women Voters of MT, hereinafter referred to in these bylaws as LWVMT.

ARTICLE II
Purposes and Policy

Sec. 1. Purposes. The purposes of the LWVHA are to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation in government and to act on selected governmental issues at the state, local and national level and the League may study issues of interest.
Sec. 2 Political policy. The League shall not support or oppose any political party or any candidate.

ARTICLE III
Membership

Sec. 1. Eligibility. Any person who subscribes to the purposes and policy of the League of Women Voters shall be eligible for membership.
Sec. 2. Types of Membership.
A. Voting Members. Citizens at least 18 years of age who join the LWVHA shall be voting members of the local, state and national Leagues. Those who have been members of the League for 50 years or more shall be life members, excused from the payment of dues.
B. Associate Members. All others who join the League shall be associate members.

ARTICLE IV
Leadership Team

Sec. 1. Election, Qualifications and Term. The board of LWVHA shall consist of a presiding officer, an assistant presiding officer, a treasurer and up to 3 directors. They shall be elected at the annual business meeting and shall serve for two-year terms or until their successors have been elected or appointed and qualified. All directors shall be voting members of the League. Vacancies may be filled by appointment of the Leadership Team. They will serve until the next annual election.
Sec. 2. Powers. The Leadership Team shall manage and supervise the business, affairs and activities of the LWVUS, subject to the instructions of the annual business meeting. It shall accept responsibility for such other matters as the national or state board may, from time to time, delegate to it. It shall have the power to create such special committees as it deems necessary and shall perform such other duties as are specified in these bylaws.
Sec. 3. Meetings. At least 2 regular meetings of the Leadership Team shall be held annually. The Leadership Team may designate one member or the members may share the responsibility for preparing an agenda for each such meeting, with input from the remaining members of the Leadership Team or the chair of any appropriate off-board committee and for insuring that the minutes are kept of all meetings of the Leadership Team and of the annual business meeting. The presiding member may call special meetings and shall call a special meeting upon the written request of two other members of the Leadership Team. Three consecutive absences from regular team meetings, without excuse, shall constitute a resignation.
Sec. 4. Quorum. A majority of the members of the Leadership Team of the LWVHA shall constitute a quorum. Any one or more members of the team may participate in a meeting by means of a conference telephone or similar equipment allowing all persons participating in the meeting to hear each other at the same time. Participation by such means shall constitute presence in person at a meeting.

ARTICLE V
Meetings

Sec. 1. Membership Meetings. There may be nine (9) meetings of the membership and/or public each year. The Leadership Team shall determine the time and place of the meetings. These nine (9) meetings shall include an annual business meeting at which the Leadership Team is elected in alternating years and a budget and bylaws are approved; a member orientation meeting; and a community orientation meeting.

Sec. 2. Quorum. Thirty percent (30%) of the voting members shall constitute a quorum at all business meetings of the LWVHA, provided that notice of the meeting is sent to the member at least one week in advance.

ARTICLE VI
Nominations and Elections

Sec. 1. Nominating Committee. The Leadership Team is responsible for succession planning. If a nominating committee is used, it shall consist of at least two members. The chair and one member, who shall not be members of the Leadership Team, shall be elected by the annual business meeting. Immediately following the annual business meeting, the Leadership Team shall appoint one of its members to the committee. Vacancies shall be filled by appointment by the Leadership Team.
Sec. 2. Report of the Nominating Committee. The report of the nominating committee, containing its nominations for the Leadership Team and the chair and one member of the next nominating committee shall be sent to the members one month before the annual business meeting. The report of the nominating committee shall be presented to the annual business meeting. Nominations may be made from the floor immediately thereafter, provided the consent of the nominee has been obtained.
Sec. 3. Elections. Election shall be by ballot, except that if there is only one nominee for each Leadership Team position, it shall be by voice vote. A majority vote shall constitute election.

ARTICLE VII
Principles and Program

Sec. 1. Principles. The Principles are concepts of government adopted by the national convention and supported by the League as a whole. They are the authorization for the adoption of national, state and local programs.
Sec. 2. Program. The program of the LWVHA shall consist of action to implement the Principles and those governmental issues chosen by the annual business meeting for concerted study and action, provided that, as a condition of recognition by the state and national boards, the LWVHA shall act only on existing local positions or state and national positions. The Leadership Team shall recommend to the membership, at the annual business meeting, a program of work focused on the local community. Program of work, as used in these bylaws, may be in the form of observing local government, advocating on a local issue or educating the membership and the community on the structure and services of local government. The annual business meeting may adopt the Leadership Team recommended program or any similar program of work provided that any program of work adopted by the LWVHA shall focus on the local community.
Sec. 3. Program Action. Members may act in the name of the LWVHA only when authorized to do so by the Leadership Team. They act only in conformity with, and not contrary to a position taken by the LWVHA, the LWVMT and the LWVUS.

ARTICLE VIII
Financial Administration

Sec. 1. Fiscal Year. The fiscal year of the LWVHA shall commence on the first of April each year.
Sec. 2. Dues. Annual dues shall be payable by December 31 of each year. Any member joining after January 1 shall pay one half of the dues for that year. Any member who fails to pay dues within three months after they become payable shall be dropped from the membership rolls.
Sec. 3. Budget. An annual budget shall be prepared by the Treasurer and approved by the Leadership Team and shall be published to the membership no less than one month prior to the annual business meeting. The budget, as presented, may be amended at the Annual Meeting and shall be adopted at the annual business meeting by a majority vote.
Sec. 4. Distribution of Funds on Dissolution. In the event of the dissolution of the LWVHA, all moneys and securities which may at the time be owned by or under the control of the LWVHA shall be paid to the LWVMT after the state and national per member payments and other obligations have been met. All other property of whatsoever nature, whether real, personal, or mixed that may at the time be owned by or under the control of the LWVHA shall be disposed of to such person, organization, or corporation for such public, charitable or educational use and purposes as the Leadership Team in its absolute discretion may designate.

ARTICLE IX
Parliamentary Authority

The rules contained in the current edition of Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the organization in all cases to which they are applicable and not inconsistent with these bylaws.

ARTICLE IX
Amendments

These bylaws may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the voting members at the annual business meeting, provided that the proposed amendments were submitted to the membership in writing at least one month in advance of the meeting.

Adopted 3/2000
Amended 5/2012

The Voter

Newsletter of the League of Women Voters of the Helena Area, The Voter

Issues:

January 2013

April 2013

September 2013

Contact Us

Contact Us: If you have questions about the League, contact
Sue Hoell
League of Women Voters of the Helena Area
PO Box 6534
Helena MT 59604
or call 461-5768
or email HelenaLWV@lwvmt.org