D.C. Voting Rights - A League Victory! (Carol Whitesell)
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D.C. Voting Rights - A League Victory!
At 6:00 a.m. on Friday, April 18, my telephone rang. It was the Ratification Campaign Committee office in Washington, D.C. "We're so pleased that the D.C. Amendment was approved by the Hawaii legislature last night; can you give us the vote for a press release?" That's how I got the good news that Hawaii had become the 9th State to ratify the D.C. Voting Rights Amendment. The LWV/Hawaii had achieved its major legislative goal for this session!
I had been asleep when the State House, following a spirited floor debate, voted 38 to 10 (3 excused) in favor of the ratification resolution. The Senate had already given its approval -- 20 to 3 (2 excused) -- and had moved its version of the resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution 4) over to the House, where it was referred to the Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee was chaired by Representative Dennis Yamada of Kauai. The Committee had already held a hearing on a similar House resolution; but the committee members present at decision-making had agreed to wait for SCR 4 to pass over to the House, and then move the SCR 4 version to the floor. Still, as the last week of the session approached, with no further action, Kathleen Wolgemuth (Common Cause) and I were both subject to periodic attacks of anxiety. We heard rumors of strong and influential opposition on the committee, and tried to track them down. We visited representatives' offices and tried to get firm commitments to vote "yes." In spite of the reassurances we received, we worried that D.C. would slip through the cracks in the final push to complete the legislative business.
The resolution was placed on the calendar for floor action on April 17. We had completed a tally and were sure we had more than enough votes. A request from Minority Leader Kinau Kamali'i to place D.C. at the end of the calendar was momentarily disturbing, but we were assured that this was a routine courtesy, which would allow time for debate, and that the vote would be taken. And so it was.
I want to thank all Leaguers who helped with this lobby effort, particularly Helen Griffin of Honolulu, Elly Dalton and Margaret Littman of Kauai, and all of you who responded to our Action Alert.
We received a mailgram of thanks from the LWV of Washington, D.C. President Pat Shutt has also been invited to appear on a program workshop panel at National Council to discuss how we did it. The passage of the D.C. Amendment was truly a victory for all of us!