Halfway There: Black Policy Day Highlights the Week

By Gary Zuckett, WVCAG Executive Director

       We’re now in the 5th week of the 2024 session, and have reached the halfway mark (Day 30). The pace is accelerating. Committees’ agendas and floor sessions are growing longer. I often compare the session’s progression to a snowball that’s started off rolling down a snowy slope – i.e. it just keeps on picking up speed and momentum and grows larger and larger, until finally, it crashes into a tree at the bottom and stops dead at midnight on the final Saturday, which falls on March 9th this year. Phew!

       Wednesday, February 7th was Black Policy Day and we were there with many other groups tabling and showing support for the policies being supported by our communities of color as part of the Black Policy Agenda. Their voices have a difficult time breaking through to be heard, no matter which party controls leadership at the Capitol. This was a great way to kick-off Black History Month! Read more here and here

       WV Public Broadcasting’s Wednesday coverage of ‘the Legislature Today’ highlighted Black Policy Day and then pivoted to an interview with Delegate Evan Hansen and WV Environmental Council lobbyist Lucia Valentine where they discussed our opposition to HB 5018.  The bill passed the House Tuesday despite opposition from the vast majority of speakers at Friday’s public hearing.  HB 5018 bans community air monitoring data from civil actions and consideration by our WV DEP. Their discussion also covered our support for Community Solar and Net Metering bills that we’re hoping to get moving. You can watch or listen to this 6PM weekday show on your TV or radio, or check it out anytime on the WVBP webpage.

       Labor and Lawyers Convene

       Two other allied groups recently gathered their members in Charleston for meetings and legislative advocacy. First the AFL-CIO brought labor leaders from across the state together for their annual legislative conference and to make their presence felt at the Capitol. Labor has taken multiple ‘hits’ since the Republicans took over but they’re unwavering in their efforts to represent our working class. 

       The other organization is one we work with on ensuring West Virginians can have their day in court — the WV Association for Justice. With several bills in play to limit access to the courts or what evidence can be heard in cases related to environmental and other issues, it’s good to have allies like these. 

       Let the Voters Decide!

       Delegate Kayla Young (D) Kanawha, is the lead sponsor of a resolution, HJR 27, that would give voters in the November election the opportunity to amend the state constitution – “relating to the right to reproductive freedom with protections for health and safety.” She was joined by seven other Democrats (the majority of their 11 member caucus) who argued that the voters of West Virginia should be asked to weigh in and undo the severe restrictions recently placed on abortion access in our state. Unfortunately, for this measure Joint Resolutions that propose to put constitutional amendments on the ballot, require a ⅔ majority vote of both houses to get there. With HJR 27, this is likely to happen in this present legislature right after Hell freezes over. Instead they are working to make the codified abortion even worse by pushing harmful and insulting rhetoric to demean and denigrate abortion patients and providers. WV FREE has an action here on SB 352

       Pitch In Now — Your Voice is Needed!

       With so much happening so fast, your calls and notes to legislators are needed every week, so please keep them coming. If you need help identifying them click here. Also, please keep those member renewals coming in, too. A big thank you to those who’ve already made a supporting donation! You make these updates and our work possible. 

Tell Them What You Want! WV CAG Board member and Rise Up WV Chair, Sally Roberts Wilson, asked Black Policy Day attendees to share their demands of lawmakers. Here are some of their responses.

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