The Legislature is now in full swing and living up to its reputation as the ‘Bad Idea Factory’, as Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha) often refers to it.
Some of the most harmful proposals deal with criminal law. Not only are they doubling down on the failed war on drugs, but two different death penalty bills have been introduced in the Senate. One is sponsored by the Senate President Blair targeting those who distribute Fentanyl resulting in an overdose death. Blair is in a primary election fight for his seat and trying to demonstrate he’s ‘tough on crime’.
Meanwhile, ‘tough on crime’ former federal prosecutor, Mike Stuart (appointed by former President Donald Trump as he likes to boast), is floating another bill (SB 473) to bring back the death penalty for those who are convicted of killing a ‘first responder’ such as a police officer or paramedic. Senator Stuart is now running to be the state’s next Attorney General. As Eli Baumwell with the ACLU of WV commented in a recent op-ed, “Study after study has shown that capital punishment does not deter crime, and that it actually kills innocent people. That’s why West Virginia banned it nearly 60 years ago.”
Targeting Trans Youth (Again)
Not satisfied that they did enough harm to trans youth during the last legislative session, there is yet another bill (SB 194) aimed at further restricting access to care to life-saving care for these vulnerable young people. Once again ignoring the medical studies which have documented that access to gender-affirming care reduces the risk of suicide by 73% among a group with an exceptionally a high rate of self harm.
In the House, a transphobic ‘bathroom bill’ (HB 4806) seeks to prohibit trans youth from using school restrooms associated with their gender identity. Why don’t they just mandate a gender-neutral restroom option instead? Oh yeah, how could I forget — this is an election year and they must toss out lots of ‘red meat’ to feed the culture warriors to get them out to vote. The bill is on the House Education Committee agenda today, along with a bill to arm teachers and school administrators. See our Partner Alerts in this update for more details and follow Fairness West Virginia for keeping up with, well, fairness!
Not All Bad
Lest we leave you too depressed, there are some positive things happening, too. Like the ‘Save Our Solar’ rally happening this Saturday, Jan. 27 at 2PM in the Lower Rotunda (rescheduled from last Saturday due to the weather emergency) and Monday’s PSC public hearing, where scores of folks — including a local IBEW representative with the backing of 122 union electricians — told the Commissioners to prevent the electric utilities from gutting solar net metering. Every day at the Capitol there are displays and information tables in the Upper Rotunda, as groups from around the state host activities to educate lawmakers and elevate their issues. Tuesday was both Hunger Free Day and Tobacco Free Day. Thursday is Veterans Appreciation Day and Friday is Library Legislation Day.
Keep It up!
We know it’s challenging to follow the session and try and figure out what’s going on and how to make a difference. But please keep up the good work making those calls to lawmakers on your high priority issues — because you’re the citizen in Citizen Action —and it does get their attention! And, if you haven’t already, please renew your membership so we can keep our team in action with you and for you!