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CONSENSUS POSITIONS 2014

AN ABSTRACT

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia is nonpartisan toward political parties and candidates. Based on a grass-roots study and consensus process, the League formulates positions on selected governmental issues. The following are excerpts of statewide positions taken by the League. For more information, consult the state office or a local League president.

STATE GOVERNMENT


Annexation – The League of Women Voters favors changes in the laws that would make it easier to initiate annexation procedures.

Civil Service – The League of Women Voters supports strengthening and extending the civil service system.

Constitutional Revision – The League of Women Voters supports revisions to the state constitution to allow alternative forms of county government, to strengthen the executive branch of state government, and to ease the constitutional restrictions on local property taxes.

Election Laws – The League of Women Voters supports measures to: encourage vigorous enforcement of the West Virginia election code, insure full disclosure of campaign financing information, promote ethical campaign practices, minimize fraud, and support the primary method of selecting candidates with full participation by citizens in political parties.

Ethics in Government – The League of Women Voters supports a strong ethics law to govern the conduct of public officials and employees, and an Ethics Commission to administer the law.

Judicial Selection – The League of Women Voters supports a merit selection system for Supreme Court Justices and Circuit Court Judges, along with a retention election by voters.

Jury Selection – The League of Women Voters believes that all citizens should have the opportunity to participate as jurors, that state law should specify the sources from which a list of jurors should be selected, and that selection of jurors from such lists should be done on a random basis.

State Legislature - The League of Women Voters supports adequate legislative salaries, greater public access to legislative proceedings and records, and apportionment of the Legislature in accordance with one-man, one-vote and preservation of the integrity of county lines. The League also supports a strong ethics law which will govern the conduct of public officials and employees.

Taxation and Finance – The League of Women Voters believes that the state tax system should be broadly based, rely on diverse sources of income, provide an adequate stable yield, and treat taxpayers equitably. The League believes that the tax yield should be adequate to provide a balanced budget and that tax relief measures should be based primarily on need. The League supports a variety of options for increasing revenue for local governments.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Environmental Quality – The League of Women Voters supports strong laws to prevent and abate water pollution and the strict regulation of solid waste disposal. The LWV supports water use legislation that reserves the waters of the State for the use and benefit of its citizens and allows for allocation of water in times of short supply.

Land Use – The LWV favors land use laws that rigidly control surface mining, encourage strictly supervised timbering and multiple uses of forests, promote land use planning and appropriate regulations at the state and local levels, and protect unique natural areas.

SOCIAL POLICY

Education – The League of Women Voters supports measures contributing to improved finance in public education, expanded vocational and technical education programs, the use of testing and remedial programs for pupils, and measures to improve teacher competence.

Health Care – The League of Women Voters supports the development of a statewide plan for the delivery of health care in order to provide u

niversal coverage and contain costs.

Juvenile Services – The League of Women Voters favors policies and adequate financing to meet individual needs, promote rehabilitation, and insure equal treatment of children.

Library Financing – Support tax-based funding for public libraries in West Virginia that is adequate, predictable and sustainable.

The League of Women Voters is a non-profit organization that seeks to promote the informed and active participation of citizens in government. Membership is open to all citizens of voting age, and may be secured by sending annual dues of $40 to the treasurer. Dues are not tax-deductible.

Treasurer Publications
HC 60, Box 148 23 Valley View Circle
New Martinsville, WV 26155 Vienna, WV 26105


LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF WEST VIRGINIA

CONSENSUS POSITIONS

(Revised, November, 2014)

STATE GOVERNMENT POSITIONS

Promote an open State government system that is ethical and representative; that has fair and adequate fiscal basis; that protects individual liberties; that assures opportunities for citizen participation in government and the judicial process; that provides reasonable municipal annexation.

ANNEXATION

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia favors changes in state laws to facilitate initiation of  annexation, either by cities or by areas that want to be annexed.  Annexation should be kept under the control of city governments, and not the State, county commissions, or an independent annexation board.  (11/9/87)*

Further Guidelines

The League supports the following principles:

  • Annexation with election:  (a) inclusion of registered  voters  in the petition for election, (b) calling annexation elections according to state referendum laws, (c) annexation after a combined election by voters  in the city and in the area to be annexed,  but opposes annexation if only city residents  vote.
  • Annexation without election: having all freeholders sign the same petition, not separating freeholders according to whether they are “qualified voters” or “freeholders who are not qualified  voters.”
  • Minor boundary adjustment:  (a) consent of freeholders in the area to be annexed should not need to be unanimous;  (b) city council should be required to hold a public hearing before proceeding with this method.
  • The League opposes unilateral annexation solely by approval of the city council, but supports unilateral annexation under some circumstances: when a fringe area is clearly urban, already receives city services, or negatively impacts the city.  In clearly defined situations, a city may be compelled to annex areas, and areas may be compelled to be annexed.

* date adopted

CIVIL SERVICE

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia supports strengthening and extending the civil service system to include employees of all state departments and agencies.  (5/5/51)

CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia:

1.      Favors a unified court system for West Virginia with a minor judiciary staffed by adequately trained and competent judges.  (11/20/61)

2.      Opposes constitutional limitation of the state income tax.

Supports a strong executive branch of state government.  (1/15/62)

Further Guidelines

  • The League supports the following measures to strengthen the executive branch:

(a)  two terms for the Governor;

(b)  an executive budget;

(c)  a two-thirds vote for veto override;

(d)  a shorter ballot;

(e)  consolidation of executive departments.

3.      Advocates calling a convention to revise the Constitution of West Virginia.  The League further urges that delegates be selected on a basis which de-emphasizes partisanship and which insures representation of the broad and varied interests of the citizens of West Virginia.

Supports provisions to allow alternative forms of county government  and measures which will encourage and facilitate intergovernmental cooperation and consolidation of services and functions.  (2/1/65)

Further Guidelines

  • Alternative forms of county government should include a single executive form, home rule, and county-city consolidation.

4.    Supports provisions which ease constitutional restrictions on taxation of local property and limitations on borrowing powers and permit approval of local excess levies and bond issues by a simple majority vote.  (4/7/67 and 4/5/66)

ELECTION LAWS

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia:

1.      Supports measures to encourage effective administration and vigorous enforcement of the West Virginia Code.  Election laws should serve the voter with maximum convenience, simplicity, clarity, and impartiality; include adequate voter education; promote an equitable and uniform election process and continuous efforts to minimize opportunities for fraud.  (11/17/70)

Further Guidelines

  • The first step in obtaining an effective election system is adequate training of personnel and election workers.
  • The Board of Canvass must be as impartial as possible.
  • Responsibility for voter education should be designated to a specific official or board.
  • Enforcement of the Election Code should be a priority at all levels.
  • Modernization of the departments, centralization at both county and state levels, or changes in materials are desirable, but are of low priority.
  • The League would support higher salaries or budgets only  if better training were included.
  • Election Day procedures should guarantee secrecy, minimize fraud, and encourage a simple, convenient, impartial system.  Vote counting methods, voter assistance   regulations, security of poll books, and qualifications for election workers should be developed to achieve these objectives.
  • The responsibility for enforcement of election laws should be at the state level.
  • Increasing penalties is not the solution to preventing fraud, but the penalty for buying votes should be severe.
  • The League does not oppose allowing authorized observers at the polls but believes it is impractical.

2.      Supports measures which would insure full disclosure of campaign financing information by candidates and committees, promote ethical campaign practices, and provide enforcement at the state level.  (11/4/72)

Further Guidelines

  • All candidates and independent committees, including those acting on ballot issues, should be required to file financial statements which include addresses of contributors, bank depositories, and complete information about each campaign committee.  The records should be kept for the duration of the office sought.
  • The records should be available to the public.
  • A state agency should be charged with auditing the reports.
  • Limits should be placed on amounts of contributions but not on eligibility to contribute.
  • To insure more ethical campaigning, candidates should be responsible for campaign literature used on their behalf.
  • The League encourages public broadcasting agencies to devote adequate time to candidates and campaign issues.

3.      Supports the primary election method of nominating candidates to statewide offices and supports measures which allow party members to participate fully in the nominating process with minimum confusion.

Supports measures which provide for a meaningful binding state presidential primary, the direct election of individuals as delegates to party national conventions, and delegations which are representative of the presidential preference of the party members in the State.

Believes that all citizens should be encouraged to participate in political party activities; that the direct election of party officials by the general party membership is the best method of selection; that the number of party committee members elected should be reasonable.

Believes that some state and local elective offices should be removed from the ballot. (4/18/74).

Further Guidelines

  • The League supports measures which would:

(a)  Provide for the counting of write-in votes during a primary.

(b)  Provide a fair method of rotating candidates’ names on the ballot.

(c) Require candidates for delegate to national conventions to announce their presidential preference and that each preference be printed on the ballot.

(d)  Eliminate the requirement for an equal number of men and women on political party executive  committees.

  • The League opposes measures which allow cross-filing,  runoff primary elections, and winner-take-all presidential primaries.

ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia supports a strong ethics law to govern the conduct of public officials and employees.  The League believes that the establishment of an Ethics Commission to administer the law is an effective way to control public corruption.  (1/14/91)

Further Guidelines

  • The ethics law should minimize opportunities for using public office for private gain.
  • All complaints and investigations referred to the Ethics Commission should be confidential unless probable cause is determined.
  • The Commission should be allowed to initiate investigations and to grant exemptions to provisions of the ethics law.  Any exemptions granted, however, should be a matter of public record.
  • The League supports the following concepts:  bans on honoraria, solicitation for charity from subordinates, and participation in licensing/rate-making for businesses in which official or immediate family has interest; disclosure of gifts valued at more than $100; report of lobbyists’ expenditures of over $25 per official; permission for reimbursement for travel and meal expenses.

JUDCIAL SELECTION

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia supports a merit selection and retention election method for selection of West Virginia State Supreme Court Justices and Circuit Court Judges.  Justices and judges should be appointed by the Governor from a list of qualified candidates submitted by broad-based nominating committees.

The selection method should include periodic retention elections and a process for evaluating judges before retention elections and publicizing the results.  Judges receiving a majority of favorable votes would be retained until the next retention election.  (April, 1996)

Further Guidelines

  • Supreme Court Justices

(a)      The nominating committee should be composed of both lawyers and non-lawyers.  Non-lawyer members should be appointed by the Governor.  Lawyer members should be appointed by the State Bar.

(b)     The nominating committee should: have statewide representation, be politically diverse, have gender balance, have ethnic diversity.

  • Circuit Court Judges

(a)    Each district should have a nominating committee

(b)    The nominating committees should be composed of both lawyers and non-lawyers

(c)    Non-lawyer members should be appointed by the governor.

(d)    Lawyer members should be appointed by the State Bar.

(e)    Nominating committees should: have district-wide representation, be politically diverse, have gender balance, have ethnic diversity.

  • Partisan Election

To improve West Virginia’s current method of judicial selection, a process for conducting and publicizing polls by the state and local bars should be developed.

JURY SELECTION

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia:

1.      Believes that all reasonable efforts should be made to afford all citizens the opportunity to participate as jurors in the judicial process, that state law should specify the sources from which  lists  of jurors should be selected, and that selection of jurors from such lists should be done on a random basis.  (1/14/85)

2.      Believes that most obstacles to jury service could be eliminated by a severely shortened term of jury service.  (4/10/86)

Further Guidelines

  • The jury selection method should be uniform across the State.
  • If kept up-to-date and accurate, voter registration and driver’s license lists are excellent sources for names of potential jurors.
  • Any exemptions from jury service should be at the judge’s discretion.
  • A severely shortened term of jury service, such as the one trial/one day system, would cause less inconvenience and economic hardship.  It should be as efficient as possible and could include:  (a) a combination qualification and summoning process, (b) use of first class mail for summons, (c) a monitoring system to predict demand for jurors, (d) use of a telephone call-in system, (e) computer selection of names from several source lists, (f) the possibility of overall lower per diem pay on the first few days of jury service, and (g) a county-by-county gradual phase-in of the system.

STATE LEGISLATURE

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia:

1.      Supports adequate legislative salaries by legislative determination, with allowances for per diem expenses during special sessions and interim committee activities; holding of regular annual sessions of not less than sixty days; the exclusion from legislative service of officeholders and employees of the State, the United States, or foreign governments, as well as specified local officials; a gubernatorial veto to be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

Supports public access to legislative proceedings and records, including roll call votes; and recommends that adequate supportive services be provided for the Legislature.  (4/4/70)

Further Guidelines

  • The League supports:

(a)  Requiring that committee meetings generally be open to the public and that records of meetings be made easily available.

(b)  Requiring adequate public notice prior to committee hearings.

(c)  Requiring transcriptions of floor proceedings and making them easily available to the public.

(d)  Making sufficient clerical help and space available to the Legislature.

(e)  Reducing the number of legislative committees.

(f)  Allowing the leadership to make committee assignments.

2.      Supports apportionment of the West Virginia Legislature every ten years, based upon the United States census figures in accordance with the following principles:  one person one vote representation; preservation of the integrity of county lines insofar as possible; compactness and contiguousness of districts; and prohibition against the use of overlaid districts.  The  League believes that these principles should be insured by the West Virginia Constitution and that remedial provisions should be established in the event that the Legislature fails to reapportion.  (1/23/73)

TAXATION AND FINANCE

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia:

1.      Believes that the state tax system should be broadly based, rely on diverse sources of income, provide an adequate, stable yield, and treat taxpayers equitably.  It should include components based on ability to pay, take into account the economic impact of individual taxes, and should be simple to administer.  (1/13/76)

2.      Opposes any tax reform or change which negatively affects the state’s or local government’s ability to provide necessary services.  (4/27/01)

3.      The League approves the use of general obligation bonds for the creation of tangible assets, but is opposed to the use of such bonds to meet current expenses.  (1/13/76)

4.      The League opposes the consumers sales tax on food. (1/13/76)

Further Guidelines

  • When imposing new taxes, the following should be considered:  acceptability to the taxpayers, ease of compliance and payment, and the social effect of individual taxes.  (1/13/76)
  • The order of preference for increasing expenditures is education, highways, higher education, and human services.  If reductions must be made, the order of preference in doing so is an across the board reduction, higher education reduction with special emphasis on consolidation of medical schools and colleges, and limitation on increases in retirement benefits.  If revenues need to be increased, the order of preference of taxes to be raised is sales and corporate net income.  If revenues must be reduced, the order of preference of taxes to be lowered is gross sales or other privilege tax and personal income.  (1/13/76)

5.      Supports the Corporate Net Income Tax in combination with the current Business & Occupation Tax as balanced and fair sources of business taxes.  (4/27/01)

6.      Supports a progressive Personal Income Tax.  (4/29/82, updated 4/27/01)

7.      Supports the Consumers Sales Tax, with the exception of the Food Tax.  The League supports the Use Tax and the Gasoline Tax and favors the extension of the Cigarette Tax to other tobacco products.  (6/1/84, updated 4/27/01)

Further Guidelines

  • Consumer Sales Tax and Use Tax exemptions should prevent pyramiding of the taxes and insure that they are levied on final purchases.  The League approves exemptions in the gasoline tax for non-road use of gasoline.  (6/1/84, updated 4/27/01)

8.      Believes that the amount of revenue raised at the state level must be sufficient to provide essential state services and that a balance in revenue raised from individuals and from businesses should be maintained.   Further, tax relief measures should be based upon objective criteria.  (4/18/85)

Further Guidelines

  • Factors which should be considered in tax relief measures are need, prevention of pyramiding, and equal treatment of taxpayers.  Categories of taxpayers to be given relief should include all taxpayers who need similar relief but should be limited to those in need of relief.   (4/27/01)

9.      Supports a variety of options for increasing revenue for local governments.  (4/30/02)

Further Guidelines

  • The League supports the following options for increasing local revenue:  (a) expanding the coal severance to other extractive industries; (b) authorizing cities to use the local powers act; (c) authorizing counties to impose the business and occupation tax; (d) making more extensive use of fees; (e) allowing a local income tax, local sales tax, and local wage tax.  (4/30/02)
  • When cities and counties both adopt the same new tax, city residents should pay the city tax and only that portion of the county tax to be used to service city residents.  (4/30/02)
  • If a new tax is adopted, the Legislature should set the maximum rates.  Any local income tax should be based upon the state income tax and, if income and wage taxes are both authorized, there should be a credit to prevent local double taxation of the same income.  (4/30/02)

NATURAL RESOURCES POSITIONS

Promote an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest; recognize the interrelationships of water quality and supply, waste management and land use planning.

ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia:

1.      Favors support of strong laws to prevent and abate water pollution with adequate staff and financing to enforce such laws.  (4/9/65)

2.      Believes that the most desirable goal in managing solid waste is recycling, encouraged by governmental leadership.  When recycling is not feasible, the government should provide for and strictly regulate other acceptable means of collection and disposal, preferably on a regional basis.

Supports legislation which would establish specific rights to the use of all water based on a permit system, recognize the hydrological cycle, reserve the waters of the State to its use, and permit the Water Resources Board to allocate water in times of short supply, giving human needs first consideration.  (1/23/73)

LAND USE

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia:

1.      Believes that all surface mining should be rigidly controlled.  In the event that such control is not possible, the League believes that the right to engage in surface mining should be abolished.  (1/4/72)

Further Guidelines

  • The League believes the following criteria should govern surface mining regulations: future use of mined lands, aesthetics, protection of wildlife, preservation of land for a stable life system, effect on adjacent land and water, state tax  monies, and corporation profits.
  • The League further holds that surface mining companies should operate under a “no damage, total reclamation” policy; that reclamation should provide maximum protection to watersheds and adjoining properties; and that the State should be responsible for the administrative supervision of the reclamation of orphaned lands.
  • The League believes the trend toward nationwide “energy complexes” and long-range deep mine contracts places an excessive burden on West Virginia to supply coal.
  • On the question of aesthetics, the League strongly supports protecting natural scenic areas, public lands, waterways, and neighboring farms and homes from the adverse effects of surface mining.
  • A state plan should be formulated to prevent future  misuses of land.
  • Surface mining regulation applies to all mineral extraction,  including quarrying.

2.      Supports the regulation of state and private forests to protect their continuing value from destruction by fire and misuse, and supports measures to promote fuller use of forests for economic advantage as well as for other beneficial uses.  (1/23/74)

Further Guidelines

  • The League supports more adequate fire prevention and control, through such measures as increased state appropriations, broadened educational programs, and strict law enforcement.
  • The forests of the State should provide a larger percentage of the gross state product through state encouragement of secondary industries by such measures as tax incentives, job training, improved transportation, expanded research, increased production, tourism, and multiple use.  The State should also encourage private forest cooperatives by such practices as enlarging its small-owner assistance program without resorting to subsidies and punitive action.
  • After public hearings, West Virginia should establish a State Forest Service.  This plan should provide for multiple use of state forests and should be made available to the public.
  • Timbering should be permitted in state forests under strict supervision, adequate bonding, and controlled conditions designed to protect the continuing value of the forest.  The State should also oversee the management of private forests through helpful controls and a cutting permit system.
  • West Virginia should take an interest in the management of national forests in the State by seeking closer coordination between national and state forest planners.
  • The League favors mandatory planning legislation for critical areas, for critical activities, and for uncontrolled areas.

3.      Supports limited industrial development in West Virginia as long as high standards of environmental protection are maintained.  (2/2/77)

Further Guidelines

  • The League favors state regulation in the following areas:  (a) minimum building standards, (b) protection of unique natural areas, (c) development along highway and interstate intersections, (d) non-municipal residential, industrial, commercial, and recreational complex development, and (e) suitability of use as related to topography and soil limitations on development.
  • A professionally staffed central state planning agency should be created to implement land use legislation.  In carrying out land protection, the agency should coordinate its activities with plans and policies of local and regional agencies.  It should be tailored to maximize local decision-making and should help localities develop and exercise local land use functions to conform to statewide standards, and the State should encourage sub-state regional bodies for planning and  regulation in matters of more than local concern.
  • The state government should:

(a)  Tie state land protection programs to integrated development planning as well as coordinate with plans and policies of local and regional agencies.

(b)  Require impact statements on major public and private developments.

(c)  Provide local extraterritorial jurisdiction in land use and development.

(d)  Permit all counties to grant building permits.

(e)  Provide for historical zoning.

(f)  Permit review of governmental agency projects by municipalities.

(g) Offer increased state financial aid, technological assistance and data to local governments.

(h)  Authorize localities to exercise innovative land use planning and regulatory techniques.

SOCIAL POLICY POSITIONS

Promote improved schools, teacher and pupil education, delivery of quality health care to all West Virginians, and improved services for juvenile offenders.

EDUCATION

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia:

1.      Supports measures contributing to improved finance and organization in public education.  (4/4/59)

2.      Supports consolidation of school finance functions under the State Board of Education and an adequately funded school foundation program for the children of West Virginia. (11/21/60)

Further Guidelines

  • An adequately  financed  school foundation program requires  increased  local and state support through measures such as statewide property reappraisals.

3.      Supports vocational and technical education programs for persons of all ages in the State, as well as a strong basic education program.  (11/13/67)

Further Guidelines

  • Vocational education programs must include introductory training at the high school level, and guidance, placement, and follow-up services.
  • Programs  should have adequate state financing to make use of available funds.
  • Programs  should be based on sound planning  and constant review  at the state  and local levels to provide teacher training, curricula, and facilities that will meet projected labor market trends.
  • Qualification requirements should be flexible to allow local school boards to draw qualified personnel from business and industry.
  • Research and development should insure maintenance of up-to-date and economical programs.
  • The League endorses the institution of vocational and technical training programs in state-supported schools of higher education.

4.      Supports the use of a minimum competency program for pupils in West Virginia. (2/4/81)

Further Guidelines

  • The State Department/State Board of Education should set the standards for the basic skills–reading, writing, and computation–but local boards should have the option to exceed the state standards.
  • Testing should begin in the primary grades and continue throughout the school career.
  • The test developer should be required to validate the tests.
  • The tests should be used for diagnostic purposes and remediation.

5.      Supports measures to ensure teacher competence in West Virginia including, in order of importance:  upgraded teacher training, increased emphasis on evaluation of teachers, improved continuing education programs, and stringent teacher certification requirements.  (1/11/83)

Further Guidelines

  • The League believes that:

(a)  The State Department of Education should control teacher certification.

(b)  The State Department of Education should share control of teacher training with institutions of higher education.

(c)  County school systems should control evaluation of teachers but should follow a design provided by the State Board of Education.

(d)  The State Department of Education should control continuing education and should assist counties in the development of their continuing education programs.

(e)  Teacher evaluation should be required in West Virginia.

(f)  Evaluation should be considered in decisions on differentiated staffing, transfer, or dismissal of teachers.

(g)  Reductions in the teaching force should be based on merit as well as seniority.

  • The League supports: demonstration of competence (testing) for teacher certification; provisional certification with increased emphasis on evaluation during the provisional period; and a State Board of Education dismissal policy requiring evaluation and the opportunity to improve.
  • To upgrade teacher training, the League supports stringent requirements for entrance into training programs and early field experiences.
  • To improve continuing education for teachers, the League supports programs relevant to teacher needs and state funding to assist counties in developing and administering programs.

HEALTH CARE

In order to provide universal coverage and contain costs, the League of Women Voters of west Virginia believes that the State of West Virginia should develop a plan for the delivery of health care.  (4/22/94)

The West Virginia Health care plan should include:

1)  Encouragement of managed care;

2)  One state agency having all health statistics based on sound demographic

data;

3)  Realistic planning for the growing elderly population;

4)  Ranking for all hospitals as primary, secondary, or tertiary;

5)  Encouragement of primary care practitioners;

6)  Emphasis on preventive medicine;

7)  Expansion of the role of county health departments.

Further Guidelines

  • The State should encourage health care networks and health maintenance organizations.
  • The master plan for health facilities should be based on demographic date, including population projections.
  • While it may be desirable for all facilities to operate on their own, it may be necessary for West Virginia to help subsidize some facilities.
  • West Virginia should encourage more medical students to enter primary care practices by offering generous scholarship or loan programs.
  • In areas where there are shortages, such as physical therapy, or long waiting lists to enter programs, such as nurse training programs, West Virginia should consider expanding programs to help meet state needs.
  • Preventive programs should be emphasized by using more mid-level practitioners, providing transportation to facilities, utilizing community education systems, existing health and mental health departments.

JUVENILE SERVICES

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia:

1.      Favors policies and procedures that meet individual needs, promote rehabilitation, and ensure equal treatment of children.  (4/18/75)

2.      Believes that those youths found by a court to be delinquent should be provided with prompt disciplinary measures and supervision directed at preparing them for a successful future life and protecting the community.  (1/12/78)

Further Guidelines

  • Judicial Procedures, 1975

(a)  Standardized definitions of “delinquent,” “truant,” “neglected,” “deprived,” “unruly,” or “persons in need of supervision” will allow children to be treated for individual needs. The term “delinquent” should be applied only to those children who have committed acts considered criminal if done by an adult.

(b)  Neglected children and children who have social problems should be treated separately from children who have committed serious offenses.

(c) Clearly defined powers of courts and agencies in regard to juvenile matters will furnish guidelines that will promote more equitable treatment of children.

(d)  Disciplinary measures must not endanger due process, and must provide efficient, effective, and adequately financed  parole and aftercare programs.

  • Status Crimes (crimes for children but not for adults):

(a)  Children confined for status crimes should be kept separate and treated differently from  those confined for serious crimes.

(b)  The League does not favor high security state correctional institutions for children confined  for status crimes but does approve of community-based group homes; local and state facilities for treating social problems, emotional ills, and mental retardation; and local or regional detention homes, state-supervised, with social services and rehabilitative programs available.

  • Serious Crimes:

(a)  Children confined for serious crimes should not be confined with adults.

(b)  The use of  high security state correctional institutions should be kept to a minimum.

(c)  Commitment of children to  community-based group homes or regional detention homes, state-supervised, with social services and rehabilitative programs is preferred.  Rehabilitative programs should be emphasized by existing high security state correctional institutions.

  • There should be adequate facilities for the seriously emotionally disturbed and for those with mental retardation who must be kept in residence.  These children should not be confined in correctional institutions.
  • Due Process:

(a)  Children should be fully protected in their right to due process through such agencies as legal aid societies, private legal counsel, ombudsmen, the West Virginia Supreme Court, and court-appointed attorneys.

(b) The implementation of the West Virginia Code should be guaranteed through the    establishment of alternatives to jail, legal protection for children, and adequate staffs, facilities, and financial support for handling juvenile problems throughout the State.

  • The League favors state responsibility for:  (a) data collecting, research, and planning of juvenile programs;  (b) management or setting standards for detention homes and group    homes;  (c) a state youth authority for coordination of juvenile services.
  • The League favors local responsibility for preventive programs such as youth service bureaus, family education and counseling, and social adjustment and guidance units through boards of education.
  • Corrections, 1976

(a)  Educational programs, accredited by the West Virginia Board of Education, should be designed to meet special needs and should include remedial education, diagnostic testing, useful vocational training, job placement and counseling and special education.

(b)  Parole and aftercare programs should include: (1) the establishment of group homes and/or halfway houses for children with an unsuitable home environment or with no place to go; (2) programs to ease children back into school or employment with as little social stress or loss of education as possible; (3) an adequate number of parole workers to insure a  reasonable workload; (4) salaries for parole staff that are competitive with comparable positions; (5) a statewide follow-up study of children who have returned to society.

  • A trained, competent, and adequate staff should be required at all levels of administration.
  • Minimum building standards for safe, uncrowded facilities should be included in the West Virginia Code to insure the basic safety of children.
  • State financial support should be given for local and state juvenile facilities and programs that are not covered by federal funding.
  • The League does not approve of military discipline but favors, instead, cottage groups with house parents. The League will, however, agree to temporary isolation by incarceration of youths who are out of control and are a danger to themselves or the community.
  • The League does not favor unrestrained, indeterminate commitments for youths.
  • The League approves of an indeterminate commitment set within a judicially determined, limited time period, with regular court reviews for those “hard-core” youths who have committed violent acts against people.

3.  Confidentiality: The League agrees that the constitutional rights of juveniles should be protected; juvenile records and identity should be kept confidential except in certain instances.  (1/11/99)

Further Guidelines

  • The League does not believe that records should be required to be kept confidential when a juvenile under age 14 has been transferred to adult status, or if probable cause exists to believe the juvenile committed treason, murder, aggravated robbery, arson, sexual assault, kidnapping, a second or a third violent felony.

4.  Alternative Incarceration Facilities:  The League supports the concept of residential behavior modification centers for juvenile offenders following the guidelines of the Corrections Program Office, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.  (1/11/99)

Further Guidelines

  • Residential center facilities must include the following:

(a)      Residential centers are a correction program for juvenile offenders of no more than 6-month confinement involving assignment for participation in the program, inconformity with State laws, by offenders other than those who have been convicted at any time for a violent felony or similarly adjudicated juveniles;

(b)     Adherence by inmates to a regimented schedule that involves strict discipline, physical training, and work;

(c)      Participation by inmates in appropriate education, job training, and substance abuse counseling or treatment;

(d)     Post-incarceration aftercare services for participants that are coordinated with the program provided during confinement.

 

LIBRARY FINANCING (11/8/14)

The LWVWV believes that public libraries are essential in communities for both children and adults. Therefore, the primary sources of funding for West Virginia’s public libraries should be tax based. This tax-based funding should be adequate, predictable and sustainable. 

The LWVWV believes that there should be a basic state funding level for WV public libraries, based on the population of the area served by the library.

The LWVWV believes that additional local tax-based funds should be provided from those agencies which authorize libraries; that is, County Commissions, municipalities and/or County Boards of Education. 

Further Guidelines

Other state options the LWVWV supports are:

  • Adjust the local share of the school aid formula to fund public libraries in each county.
  • Designate a state tax or percentage of a tax for public libraries.

The following local funding options are acceptable:

  • Require these local governing authorities to contribute a given percentage of local property taxes for libraries, as required in existing “special local laws.”
  • Increase the property tax rate with the resulting revenue going to libraries.
  • Require Boards of Education to include a defined level of funding for libraries in the county in excess levy elections.
  • Permit Boards of Education, County Commissions and municipalities to impose an additional levy on property for libraries.

The LWVWV does not support a constitutional amendment to allow public libraries to form tax districts and ask voters to assess themselves to support libraries.

The LWVWV does not support library user fees at the state or local level.

The LWVWV believes public libraries may form county-wide or multi-county systems. 

League Issues In West Virginia 2014 (Full Document)

Download: LWVWV Consensus Positions 2014 (Full Document)

Download League Issues in West Virginia

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