The study of governmental issues is one of the basic functions of the League of Women Voters. Study is undertaken at all three levels: national, state, and local, and leads to both education and advocacy, two of the basic missions of the organization. The League's process for study has acquired a solid reputation for its in-depth and unbiased exploration of an issue submitted to its grassroots membership for informed discussion.
During this exploration, members draw on balanced, pro/con materials, develop their own resources, turn to technical experts and public officials for information, and reach out to the community through public meetings, surveys, and media coverage. This is all part of the study and consensus process upon which League position is based.
Once a position is reached, the League uses its grassroots strength to influence the shape of public policy. Work is focused on priority issues every year, in order to channel the League's citizen power for the greatest effect.
Studies are conducted and funded by the League of Women Voters of Texas Education Fund, the 501(c)3 organization.
Payday and Title Loans in Texas
Focus: Explore the current regulations on payday and auto-title lenders in Texas and the accessibility and impact of these loans in the community.
Scope: Define a payday loan, an auto-title loan, and the typical borrower. Research the history of the payday/auto-title industry in Texas over the past decade and describe the impact of regulations on the industry. Determine the current demand for loans in Texas and the economic impact of these loans on communities. Determine the typical interest rate charged and the usual length of time that it takes to pay loans.Some additional issues to consider:
- Loan details: What types of documentations are required to take out a loan? What type of approval process do potential borrowers go through to get accepted? How frequently are customers denied a loan? How many loans are paid within the original term of the loan?
- Accessibility of loans: How many loans are made over a year? How many companies are currently operating in Texas and how many sites are generally set up?
- Oversight of lenders: Which organizations or agencies regulate the practices of these lenders? What kind of reporting is required? How frequently are loan agencies and/or sites inspected to ensure compliance? What are the penalties for non-compliance? When there is a dispute, where can consumers make a report or file a complaint?
- Compare loan products and regulations in Texas to those in other states.
- What would be the impact on consumers of payday and title loans in Texas if such loans were restricted or banned?
Explanation: This study was recommended by LWV Collin County and two other Leagues. In recent years several organizations have advocated the Texas Legislature for new regulations to protect hard-working families from getting trapped in a revolving door of debt brought on by payday and auto-title loans. Payday and auto-title loans are widespread in Texas, and it is an issue that all Leagues need to understand so we can act with one voice as we advocate on state laws pertaining to this issue.
Human Trafficking in Texas
Focus: Study the issue of human trafficking in Texas to understand state and local policies as well as the publicís role in abating human trafficking.
- Understand the nature and definition of human trafficking;
- Consider its extent in Texas;
- Explore how to reduce its occurrence, including considering state and local laws and their enforcement;
- Assess the components of social services for victims to rescue and restore their lives.
Explanation: This study was recommended by the LWV-Houston Area and six other Leagues. In 2011, LWV-Houston Area completed a study on human trafficking, defined as exploiting persons through force, fraud, or coercion, for the purposes of sex, labor or other involuntary acts. Other local Leagues are also studying this issue. Texas is a part of a national and international problem, and it is an issue that all Leagues need to understand so we can act with one voice as we advocate on state laws pertaining to this issue.
Study Committee: Penny Milbouer (Houston Area), Co-Chair; Ann Herbage (Houston Area),Co-Chair; Meg Scott Johnson (Kerrville Area), Peggy Downing (Tyler/Smith County), Janice Schieffer (LWV-TX Program VP, ex-officio).
- 2012-2013: Research by the committee. Local Leagues may hold forums to educate members and the public about human trafficking issues.
- Summer 2013: Facts & Issues published and consensus questions approved by LWV-TX.
- Fall 2013: Local Leagues reach consensus and report to LWV-TX Board.
- Winter 2014: Position statement announced and adopted at Convention 2014.
- Facts & Issues: Human Trafficking in Texas, click here
- References for Facts & Issues, click here
- Leaders Guide, click here
- Consensus Report Form, click here
- Human Trafficking Position, click here
- Resources for local League study and forums, click here
- Trafficking in Persons Report from the U.S. State Department, click here
- Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force Report 2012 to the Texas Legislature, click here
- Polaris Project, click here
Texas Water Resources as a Commodity
Focus: An update of our Water position to consider the competition for water in Texas, including governmental policy, public interest rights, and water resource protection concerns.
- Analyze current state regulations which govern the sale or transfer of water rights
- Consider ramifications if Texas were to classify water as a commodity rather than a natural resource
- Explore options such as a state-run water marketing administration
- Assess laws that would be needed for interstate or international water transfers
- Assess the best use of our water (i.e., public interest concerns, environmental factors, effect on third parties, future water requirements)
Study Committee: Mina Johnson (Amarillo), Chair, Miriam Foshay (Dallas), Deanna Frisk (Comal Area), Karen Haschke (Austin Area), Sandra Heatherley (Corpus Christi), Tonya Kleuskens (Amarillo), Mary Vogelson (Dallas)
2010-2011: Research by the committee. Local Leagues may hold Regional Water Forums to educate members and the public about their areaís water resource issues.
Summer 2011: Facts and Issues published and consensus questions approved by LWV-TX.
Fall 2011: Local Leagues reach consensus and report to LWV-TX Board.
Winter 2012: Position statement announced and adopted at Convention 2012.
- Facts and Issues: Should Water be a Commodity?
- Leaders Guide
- Consensus Report Form
- New LWV-TX Water Position
Voting Procedures to Increase Voter Participation
This study resulted in member consensus for an addition to our Election Laws and Voting Procedures position statement, to include the support of
- unlimited access to vote-by-mail with no restrictions
- a permanent vote-by-mail list on which any voter may request to be placed
- the establishment of guidelines which would allow jurisdictions to conduct all vote-by-mail elections
- election day registration
- election day centralized voting, with applicable safeguards
- poll-site Internet voting for military/overseas voters
- Facts and Issues on Vote by Mail
- Facts and Issues on Election Day Registration
- Facts and Issues on Election Day Centralized Voting
- Facts and Issues on Instant Runoff Voting
- Facts and Issues on Internet Voting
- Brief Summary on Vote by Mail
- Brief Summary on Election Day Registration
- Brief Summary on Election Day Centralized Voting
- Brief Summary on Instant Runoff Voting
- Brief Summary on Internet Voting
Mandated Testing in the Public Schools of Texas
- Criminal Justice: Capital Punishment
- Judicial Selection
-Texas Judicial System (brochure)
-El sistema judicial de Texas
- Elections Process in Texas (2002)
Copies of these studies and brochures are available upon request.