First, some good news! The progress of a number of bad bills we alerted you about last week has slowed.
SB 468, which would require West Virginia teachers to use curriculum developed by out-of-state, anti-science, anti-abortion extremists at Live Action. The bill made it to 2nd reading (amendment stage) on the Senate Floor before being referred to the Rules Committee. Brad McElhinny with WV MetroNews has more here.
SB 321, which would put limitations upon municipalities’ power to restrict the sale and storage of weapons and ammunition, and prevent municipalities from targeting “protected” (my businesses with planning and zoning ordinances more restrictive than those placed on other businesses has been similarly put on hold, having also been referred to the Rules Committee.
HB 4654, which was the subject of the session’s first public hearing, has yet to reappear on the House Judiciary Committee agenda. WV MetroNews and Mountain State Spotlight and WV MetroNews have more on the “lock up the librarians” bill here and here.
HB 4016, which makes it a crime for any person or organization to distribute absentee ballot applications — that’s applications, NOT ballots — has been referred to a House Judiciary subcommittee. Although other election bills under consideration by the committee have passed and been sent to the Senate, as of this writing, the subcommittee on HB 4016 has yet to meet. David Beard of the Dominion Post has more here.
Other bills, both good and bad, have advanced, but are pending in other committees for further consideration.
In the bad column, while teachers in West Virginia ask for higher pay and help in the classroom, lawmakers have proposed concealed carry and “bathroom bills”, as Mountain State Spotlight’s Henry Culvyhouse reports. Last week, the House Education Committee advanced a bill that would prohibit transgender students from using the restroom that aligns with their gender identity (HB 4806) and a bill that would arm teachers and school administrators (HB 4299). Both bills are now pending in the House Judiciary Committee. Lori Kersey with West Virginia Watch has more on HB 4806 here.
Meanwhile, bills to expand and improve dental and doula coverage have advanced, but similar proposals have stalled in year’s past, as Allen Siegler with Mountain State Spotlight reports here. The Senate Health Committee passed SB 313, which would allow doula services to be covered by PEIA and Medicaid last week and the bill is awaiting action in the Senate Finance Committee. In the House, the Committee on Banking and Insurance passed and sent to the Health Committee, a bill (HB 4933) that would exclude dentures from the $1,000 cap on dental coverage cap provided by Medicaid. We hope these and other bills to improve the health of West Virginians make it over the finish line this year. See Kim’s article for additional health care updates.
For more on what happened last week, check out this Monday morning update from Mountain State Spotlight for some of the big stories you might have missed. And their update from last evening provides a good look at where things are heading this week. Sign up here to receive their updates during the West Virginia legislative session and remember to follow these other great resources for legislative updates and actions:
- The Legislature Today – WV Public Broadcasting’s daily 30 minute simulcast to TV and radio.
- WVPB veterans Giles Snyder and Dave Mistich, who now work at NPR, are back providing coverage of the legislative session via 60 Days. Subscribe for free or make a pledge to support their work.
- WV MetroNews has excellent and timely coverage.
- The Charleston Gazette-Mail has a paywall, so consider an online subscription ($1 for the first 6 months). Mike Tony’s and Phil Kabler’s articles alone are worth the cost.
- Black by God is a community-led news organization based in West Virginia focusing on Black issues and voices, and holding government accountable to the people.
- **NEW** – West Virginia Watch – A Charleston based independent, nonpartisan news service, which launched last year. The Watch is part of States Newsroom, a national nonprofit news network.
- The WV Legislature’s website is a great resource for live audio and video of the action and tracking bills of interest.
- Search for @wvsenate and @wvhouse on www.twitter.com for minute by minute updates on floor sessions and announcements of committee meetings.
- Our friends at the WV Environmental Council, WV Center on Budget and Policy, WV Rivers Coalition, WV FREE, ACLU of WV and WV NOW all are watching different parts of the elephant(s) in the room along with other partners and allies.