Hill Bulletin.

Author:Ponomareff, Shirley Tabata
 
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The first session of the 109th Congress faces a number of tough issues in a new political climate. Key areas of concern to the League are election reform, civil liberties, campaign finance reform and the environment. The LWVUS Board of Directors meets in late January to develop the League's 2005 legislative priorities.

ELECTION REFORM

Given the serious voting irregularities of Election 2004, the League has called for a thorough investigation of all concerns and allegations in order to develop the necessary policy responses. Congress is expected to hold hearings on Election 2004 to look especially at problems in Ohio, Florida and other key states. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is already conducting inquiries and outside groups such as the CalTech/MIT voting project are expected to weigh in. They will be looking into the problems discussed in this Voter, pp. 4-7.

What You Can Do:

Be prepared to respond to action alerts from the Grassroots Lobby Corps (p. 16 to subscribe).

CIVIL LIBERTIES

This year, Congress will continue consideration of the SAFE Act and provisions of the USA Patriot Act scheduled to sunset in late 2005 ("Liberty vs. Security," p. 8). In the 108th Congress, the League lobbied in support of the Security and Freedom Ensured Act of 2003 (SAFE), which addressed some of the more problematic provisions of the Patriot Act. The League believes that basic civil liberties must be preserved and protected as the nation seeks to guard against threats to national security.

What You Can Do:

Urge your Senators and Reps. to support legislation to strengthen civil liberties.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

The dollars raised and spent in Election 2004 broke previous records, showing that presidential public financing is in deep trouble. Bipartisan legislation to save presidential public financing is being initiated again by members of Congress.

In addition, Federal Election Commission (FEC) negligence allowed a large increase in activity of the so-called 527 political groups in this election. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Reps. Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Marty Meehan (D-MA) have launched a bipartisan effort to make a vital change. To close the FEC-created loophole, the legislation will explicitly state that groups with the major purpose of influencing a federal election must comply with the long existent requirement that they register as political committees with the FEC, disclose their...

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