Summer of Build Back Bolder
As the Equinox passes and the leaves begin to turn, we’re looking back on a maxed out summer pushing for Democracy, Jobs Care and Climate around the state and in DC. And looking forward to the work that still needs to be done to move the Freedom to Vote Act and Build Back Better (BBB) – the two most ambitious federal policies proposed since passage of the Affordable Care Act. If they both are enacted it will be a major step forward for strengthening our democracy and economy. We’re so close but for two Senate holdouts. Senator Joe Manchin is one of them.
If you haven’t called this week, make it a point to contact Senators Manchin and Capito (tinyurl.com/wv4bbb) and tell them to ‘Seal The Deal’ to Build Back Bolder and bring home a new era of prosperity for our state and nation.
WV-CAG worked with allies in August and September to set off a weekly series of protests around the state starting in Charleston and rotating to Morgantown and Martinsburg. The focus of these events was to call on our Senators to pass the #BuildBackBetter (BBB) agenda to address the climate crisis, create jobs, and bolster the care economy and so much more.
Thursday Oct 7th we were outside the corporate offices of American Electric Power in Charleston. Our banners said ‘Tax Wealth Like Work’ and ‘Build Back Battle’. We called out AEP for lobbying against BBB, not paying any income taxes in 2020, and (bringing it home) expecting WV ratepayers to cover the nearly half a billion $ to rework three uncompetitive coal power plants to help keep them open for decades while the planet continues to cook! Talk about corporate bad actors!
Wide Majority of WV Voters Like BBB when Millionaires & Billionaires Pay For It
One of the objections Senator Manchin has stated to moving on BBB is that it costs too much. However, a poll WV-CAG co-released with Americans for Tax Fairness at the end of September shows that, when voters are told that millionaires, billionaires, and tax-dodging corporations will be paying for it, support went from 48% up to nearly 70%. Read all about it in this Charleston Gazette-Mail article. (WV is really fortunate to have this Pulitzer-winning, independent newspaper in its state capital that doesn’t hesitate to stand up to the governor and those in power. As with all print media it’s struggling and could use your support. Right now they have an intro deal to read online for only 99 cents for a quarter year. Give them a try!)
WV Activists & Citizen Action quoted on Rachel Maddow show
Gazette-Mail reporter Joe Severino’s article on the polling numbers we released was picked up that same evening by Rachel Maddow. I about fell out of my chair while watching her show as my name and reference as WV-CAG’s Executive Director appeared on the screen and heard Rachel quoting me from the article. That’s a definite first!
Maddow also showed footage of the flotilla that WV (and other) activists in boats and kayaks who floated up to Sen Manchin’s houseboat in DC with signs saying ‘Don’t Sink West Virginia’ and more. He had a short back and forth with them and then agreed to meet with them.
As noted above, we need to keep constituent (you and yours) communications pouring into the Senator’s office so it’s very clear that we expect him to #SealTheDeal and deliver for West Virginians on both BBB and protecting our freedom to vote. Here’s his Fairmont office phone number for a change: 304-368-0567 – We need to keep that line ringing, too!
Fair, Community Districting Needed – Here’s How
A special legislative session to redraw legislative and congressional districts using the 2020 US Census numbers is likely to begin next week. This year’s redistricting will be particularly consequential because WV is losing a seat in Congress. Additionally, starting in 2022, all members of the West Virginia House of Delegates will be elected from single-member districts for the first time in the state’s history.
According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the proposed House map puts at least 18 delegates in nine primary races in 2022, with at least 15 proposed districts that have no incumbents at all.
This is high stakes political poker, which is why it’s best done by an independent commission. Problem is, whichever political party is in power never seems to want to set one up – they want to be the ones who draw the lines. The lines that will create districts we’ll have to live (and vote) with until 2032.
Three principles should guide all efforts to redraw voting districts:
#1 Keep communities whole. That means keeping cities, counties and regions intact to the extent practical.
#2 Be fair and non-partisan. Gerrymandering is toxic to a healthy democracy. The drawing of maps should neither favor or discriminate against incumbents, candidates, or parties. Voters should pick representatives and not the other way around.
#3 Be transparent. Draft maps should be made available in a timely manner to the public and comments solicited.
These issues would be addressed with the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act, which Senator Manchin had a hand in pulling together with his Democratic colleagues. Common opinion says that the Senator will not be able to bring 10 Republicans to vote for it and overcome a filibuster. Hence the continued call to have our Senator support a change in the filibuster rules. See Julie’s article for a deeper dive into Fair Districting!
Going Green Starts at Home
Fighting for the state, the country and the planet takes a lot of ‘green’! With the support of contributing members like YOU, we can keep organizing and fighting for social, economic, racial, gender and environmental justice.
Thanks to all of you who recently sent in donations or renewed your membership! Remember, you can still do the analog method by sending a check to 1500 Dixie Street, Charleston, WV 25311, as well as the faster online option.
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