League of Women Voters of Wyoming
59th Annual State Convention
Wyoming LWV held its convention in Casper May 2 and 3 this year, and the weather could not have been nicer. We met at the Quality Inn where we have been for about 4 years now. Fifteen delegates from all 4 local Leagues attended, and we were joined by a distinguished visitor from National League, Shur Fellow Margie Beal. She presented an excellent program which included a problem-solving exercise, “Grow Me”, which we hope delegates will share with their Leagues. It certainly helps move discussions along in a production fashion.
In odd-numbered years we generally work on changes to the program record, but this year there were none, as the State League has not done a study for several years.
Casper League brought two resolutions for consideration, the first concerning irrelevant bills offered in the State Legislature. It pointed out that a good deal of time was spent on supporting the Magna Carta and a return to the gold standard, neither of which is really within the sphere of a state legislature. After discussion, we formed a committee to work on the wording to make it less confrontational and more positive; the committee produced a revised version in the second plenary session, and the group adopted that resolution as amended.
The other resolution concerns Community Policing as defined in a U.S. Dept. of Justice publication, “Community Policing”, which advocates community-oriented policing standards for local and state policing agencies. There was a great deal of discussion, and a committee of 3 was formed to rework the wording to make it more inclusive and clear. They are to report to the State Board at its next meeting (June 11).
Direction to the Board came from LWV of Laramie, which urged LWV WY to undertake a study of state appointed boards and commissions to determine how vacancies are publicized, who makes appointments to each, and what regulations/policies govern composition of such boards, including the UW Board of Trustees. Delegates voted to adopt this direction, and the State Board has formed a committee to determine how best to undertake this study. Eventually local Leagues and Members-at-Large will be asked to participate, providing information about state boards or commissions with headquarters in their areas.
Saturday evening our dinner speaker was Sen. Bill Landen (R-Natrona), who talked about the condition of the state’s roads and bridges, oil and gas revenues and taxation, provision for Wyoming citizens left out of Medicaid and how to provide for their medical care. There were lots of questions and a lively discussion which ranged far beyond Sen. Landen’s core remarks. He reminisced about working with Joan Barron, recently retired political columnist for the Casper Star, who is the recipient of the Wyoming LWV’s Making Democracy Work Award for 2015 (she was unable to join us for dinner, sadly).
On Sunday in the second plenary session, delegates adopted the Relevant Legislation Resolution and the Direction to the Board for the State Study, passed a budget for 2015-2016 fiscal year, and elected officers and directors. Amy Williamson was elected to the presidency again, Susan Simpson is the new State Secretary, and new board members are Kimberly Holloway and Sue Knesel. Terri Rittenburg was appointed to the board, as she has retired from the post of Secretary.
There was considerable discussion on the problem of finding new people to take leadership posts—precisely the thrust of the MLD (Membership, Leadership, Development) program, which is the outcome of the Shur grant to LWV US. It funds the Shur Fellows, League members who are trained and then visit state and local Leagues to help them adopt some of the practices and policies which have proven helpful in resolving just the sorts of problems Wyoming Leagues have had in the past 20 years. A group was named to look at the LWV WY by-laws to perhaps allow for a more flexible structure in terms of officers, so each election would also bring on a co-president or president-in-training, who would succeed to the office when the outgoing president has served two terms.
There was also a silent auction, and the bidding got pretty hot on a couple of items, so we raised a respectable sum for our activities; the annual giving letter has brought in more than was forecast, but we are also working on approaches to new groups, in order to achieve a more stable financial position.
In all, it was a very busy two days, but tremendously productive, and as always, a great pleasure to work with people of imagination, vision, practicality and energy. And definitely a sense of humor—we laughed a lot!