Making Democracy Work

Study Groups

Work with other League members on local issues that affect Mason County citizens.

What are Study Groups?

The League arrives at its positions through research, study, and a process of member agreement.

RESEARCH - As soon as a new issue is chosen by the membership, we go after the facts. We search out a variety of pro and con materials, turn to experts and public officials for information, and seek input from the community.

UNIT STUDY - Each member of the study group receives a copy of the materials, and has an opportunity to analyze the facts and express an opinion as the group seeks a consensus.

CONSENSUS - The study group relies on discussion to reach a consensus on the various questions posed in the study which is different than a majority vote. Results of the Study Group meetings are compiled and discussed at a League monthly meeting. The consensus answers are submitted to the national (or state) League. These become the basis for League positions and action on issues This process is followed at local, state and national levels.

Money in Politics-National Study

The League of Women Voter U.S. is updating its position on Campaign Finance reform in light of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. This 2015 study looks at the history of campaign finance legislation and Supreme Court decisions especially focusing on free speech issues. The big question is whether or not regulations on campaign money can or should be imposed by the government. And if so, how? For a summary of the consensus questions posed in this study and our study group's answers, click here

Local Study on ALEC

After two years of investigative research, the LWVMC will introduce, through a series of programs, the impact ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) has had on the legislative process and where applicable, on the citizens of Washington State. Operating virtually unnoticed for 40 years, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) has sought to influence and/or introduce legislation in every State Capitol. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Members on ALEC's task forces, corporate lobbyists and special interest representatives vote with elected officials to approve "model" bills. Each year, ALEC distributes about a thousand draft model bills to legislators through its army of lobbyists and lawyers. And each year approximately 200 of these bills are signed into law.

This is a local study that differs significantly from the State or National studies that have consensus questions and effect LWV policy positions. Other local studies that LWVMC have conducted in the past were the County Advisory Group Study and the County Budget Study.

The introduction to the ALEC study was presented at the May general meeting. More specific topics will be covered at the general meetings beginning in September and continuing throughout the year. Click here for the overview What is ALEC and as a counterbalance, another group that drafts model legislation the National Conference of State Legislators or NCSL

National Study on Agriculture

At the April 15, 2014 General Membership meeting the Agriculture study group submitted its consensus findings for approval from the general membership. Earlier in the month the study group shared its work with the LWVMC board. This interesting study was quite lengthy so our group didn't feel they had enough time to consider all the questions. Issues of greatest interest were nutritional labeling, GMOs and nanotechnology as it relates to agriculture. Click here to read the consensus questions and responses.

National Study of Privitazation

On May 15, 2012 the Privatization Study Group presented its findings at the regular LWVMC meeting. A Powerpoint slideshow along with a discussion of the issues was presented by the various members of the study group. Our consensus question answers were shared and approved at the March 30th board meeting. Click here to see the consensus questions and responses that were submitted to the LWVUS on April 30th and will be tabulated as a part of the National LWV Privatization Study.

National Study on Role of the Federal Government in Education

Mason County League of Women Voters participated in the National League study of the "Role of the Federal Government in pre-K to 12th Grade Education". This study concluded at the end of November 2011 when we submitted our consensus results to LWVUS. At the October 18th regular meeting a panel of local education experts discussed education issues and answered questions. Two information/consensus building workshops were held: October 31 and November 7th from 1-4 p.m. at the Shelton Library. A Powerpoint presentation was given at the Nov. 15, 2011 regular membership meeting that outlined our study group's consensus on the 15 questions. The LWVUS position on this issue was released in March 2012. You can read it by going to Education Study under the Study Groups menu.

Study of Mason County Advisory Commissions

The League of Women Voters of Mason County has approved a new Study Group for 2010-2011 whose purpose is to gather information about the various Mason County citizen advisory commissions, groups, and/or committees. This project is a logical extension of our Know Your County Study of the past several years.

We plan to ascertain for each advisory commission its purpose, authority, structure, meeting process, oversight, and member training. To that end, members of our Study Group will conduct research, interview relevant individuals, observe commission meetings, and request public records as necessary. When the study is complete, we will share the information with the public as well as with the Mason County Board of Commissioners, in a way that is educational and ongoing.

Because these advisory commissions are composed of county citizens and depend on the availability of those citizens to serve, it is extremely important that the people of our county be made aware of these commissions and of vacancies when they occur along with requirements for membership on said committees.

For more information read Mason County Citizens Advisory Groups. The study group completed its task in May 2011. See the study results under "Study Groups" subtab "Advisory Group Study Report" for the Powerpoint presentation along with the table of groups and detailed write ups about each group.

Mason County Budget Study Group

The League of Women Voters of Mason County in 2009 began a study of the county's budget process, as part of its ongoing Know Your County project. Study goals are to educate League members and the public about the budget, and to encourage citizen involvement in the process.

We've been encouraged by county officials who asked the League to conduct this study. We are searching for answers to the following questions.

  • Where does the money come from to run the county?
  • Where does it go?
  • What is the process for making budget decisions, especially in an economic downturn?
  • What opportunities do citizens have for input on the budget?

In the process of this project, the group has conducted two public workshops to assist citizens in understanding and participating in the budget process. League and public participation in the public briefings and hearings has been substantial. A copy of the Powerpoint presentation and the adopted League position can be found under the Study Groups subtab section "Budget Study Report".

Know Your County

In 2005, the LWV of Mason County initiated the Know Your County program as a means of educating members about the Mason County governmental structure, county operations, various agencies, both governmental and advisory, and other organizations and entities that exist to serve the residents of the county. As part of our mandate, we are then able to share that knowledge with the county residents.

Since its inception, monthly League meetings, which are publicized and open to the public, have been devoted to this theme. Our programs have included presentations from county-wide elected and appointed officials, as well as representatives from various county agencies, and updates on local issues of import. This theme has also been the inspiration for several of our Study Groups, such as the Study Groups on the Mason County Budget and on the Mason County Advisory Commissions. In our efforts to include citizen participation, we also sponsor, regularly, Candidate Forums prior to all local primaries and elections.

National Popular Vote Study Group

The National League of Women Voters has a long-standing position in support of the direct election of the USA President by popular vote. In 2008-2009 LWVMC established a local Study Group to join in researching, evaluating and discussing some of the options which could make this goal a reality.

Options include elimination or changes to the Electoral College, and/or adoption of new voting processes such as the National Popular Vote Compact (NPV Compact), which would maintain a role for the Electoral College, but require state electors to vote for the individual that received the most votes nationwide.

For more information, read our LWVMC Paper on the NPV Compact.

Immigration Study Group

In 2006, the national LWV began a two year study of immigration in the United States. As with all studies undertaken by the LWV, the goal was to develop a "position" about that issue which would become the official position of the League.

In 2006, the League of Women Voters of Mason County convened a study group of interested members and persons from the community, in order to consider the questions submitted by the LWVUS Committee. Through considerable discussion and respectful disagreement on opinions, our local League reached consensus on several, but not all, issues.

Our finalized consensus form was submitted to LWVUS in January, 2008. In April, 2008, the National Board of LWVUS announced the official position of the League, resulting from the compilation of consensus forms from local Leagues across the United States.

For more information, read LWVUS Immigration Study (pdf download).