Now that the 2022 WV legislative session is over, we’re getting back to the normal chaos here at Citizen Action – celebrating the Affordable Care Act Anniversary and Earth Day; PSC interventions; voter education; continuing our climate justice and Health Care for All campaigns – and all the other events, issues, and campaigns we’re engaged in throughout the year. As we start to get on with life post-session, we wanted to get you this wrap-up on what was definitely a doozy of a session….
Out of the 2,216 bills introduced during the 2022 legislative session, only 239 survived. Lots of really bad bills died, along with most of the good ones. Not an uplifting appraisal but, with a supermajority of conservatives in control, it could have been much worse. Phil Kabler makes excellent points on the decline in the legislature in his wrap-up article.
Your efforts in reaching out and educating your representatives were critical in many of the bad bills going down. Thank You! It really makes a difference.
Some of the worst that failed to pass include:
- Income Tax Deform – using an artificial ‘surplus’ created by a flood of federal relief dollars as an excuse to eventually eliminate the income tax that would lead to catastrophic cuts to social and other programs in future budget years.
- Unemployment Cuts – SB 2 & 3 were a top priority for the Senate but failed in the House
- Anti-Critical Race Theory – to hamstring educators when teaching ‘uncomfortable’ subjects – actually was passed by the Senate but not until after the midnight cut off.
- Deliberate Intent – would have blocked injured workers from suing when employers knew about safety issues that were ignored.
- 15 Week Ban – would have made abortions illegal after 15 weeks, a time before many women even know their pregnant.
- Annual Tank Bill – reducing inspections on Aboveground Storage Tanks upstream of public drinking water intakes. Remember MCHM? This has become an every year fight.
- Natural Immunity – substituting immunity for the required immunization for any disease.
Good bills that failed to pass include:
- Foster Care Bill – which at one point had a 10K salary increase for state Foster Care workers and improved transparency on what’s happening to kids in the system, was gutted in Senate Finance, where too many good bills go to die.
- Insulin copay – would have reduced co-pays down to $35/month for insulin and also covered testing and monitors. This popular, bi-partisian bill was killed Saturday night by a Hospital Association amendment on PEIA.
- Voting Absentee – allowing voting by absentee ballot for any reason
- Medicaid Buy-In – fixing the ‘cliff effect’ of workers losing coverage by going over the income limit that qualifies them for Medicaid.
Some of the worst that passed:
- Coal Bailout – sets up a $50,000,000 taxpayer funded private insurance company (without any legislative oversight) to cover land reclamation bonds needed to operate coal mining operations when companies are too high a risk for the open market.
- DHHR Split – forces the biggest state agency to split in half in the next 9 months when no one has a clue how to do this and maintain services, including the head of the agency.
- Forced Pooling – oil & gas corporate welfare from legislators went full tilt this year. One bill they’ve been lobbying for years forces reluctant mineral owners to let drillers get to extract their property without consent.
- Abortion “Reason Ban” – Punishes doctors who preform abortions if a woman seeks to terminate a pregnancy because a genetic disorder or disability has been dectected in the fetus.
- Micro Schools – or ‘Pods’ can be groups of homeschooled kids of any size, the 100 student limit was thrown out by the Senate. Buildings these ‘pods’ are in have no safety requirements. Yet another attack on the state’s public education system.
- Too many more to list here! 🙁
Moving Forward: Let’s Dive In!
Elections have consequences and we’re experiencing those at the WV Legislature. One way to change the trajectory of future legislative sessions is to help change the faces behind the desks up there. The 34 member Senate has 11 Democrats and 23 Republicans, while the 100 member House has 22 Democrats and 78 Republicans – pretty lopsided!
Now that the session is over its time to pivot to our upcoming midterm elections. No candidates for governor or president will be on the ballot, but all 100 seats in the WV House and half of the 34 seats in the Senate will be. If you like the folks that are representing you, get out and support them by volunteering for their campaigns! If you’re not happy with your senators and delegate(s), find out who’s running against them and see if you can support one of the challengers.
Remember that due to last year’s redistricting, congressional and legislative districts have changed. County level magisterial districts and voting precincts may have also changed. The Secretary of State’s office has released an interactive map for voters to find their district and precinct information. However, the Secretary emphasized that this convenient lookup tool “is not an official source of information for voters’ precinct and voting district information.” So if something doesn’t look right or you have questions, contact your county clerk.
Right now there are lots of empty spots on the primary election ballot. If your wrong-headed incumbent doesn’t have a challenger, it may not be too late to get your party’s local committee to place you (or a friend) on the ballot to challenge them. Democracy is not a spectator sport. Dive in and splash around!
To find out more information on progressive candidates follow the WV Working Families Party. They’ll be listing endorsements in both the Primary and November’s elections.
Finally, a big THANK YOU to all of you that took time to contact legislators, and then, also took time to send in your Citizen Action membership renewal or additional donation. If you haven’t yet gotten around to it, then click here to get to our web site or just drop a check in the mail. Your ‘green’ energy is what keeps us going.