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As I was having a drink with veteran statehouse reporter Phil Kabler at the WV Press Association reception this past week, he said something that’s stuck with me ever since. In essence he said something like, “It’s strange how the party of so-called ‘small government’ keeps inserting itself into the bedrooms and doctors offices of our citizens.” That was in reference to the bill that the House Judiciary Committee made worse by banning all gender-affirming care – both surgery and hormone therapy – for our transgender youth. On Friday, the House of Delegate passed the bill despite vocal opposition from pastors, teachers, doctors, transgender West Virginians, their friends, family members and advocates, and sent HB 2007 to the Senate. If only they would focus on improving health care access, affordability and equity for all West Virginians, instead of taking away life-saving care from our most vulnerable.
If you want to read Kabler’s Sunday rants and Mike Tony’s excellent coverage of all things environmental, that’s yet another reason to take the Gazette-Mail up on its $4.99/month online subscription offer. See our ‘resources’ section for more on this along with free options with good coverage, too.
Another glaring ‘inconsistency’ from the majority party is the current movement to return to partisan elections for judges. For over a decade or more, when they were in the minority and it generally took a ‘D’ after one’s name to get elected as a judge, Republicans advocated for nonpartisan election of judges. And, after gaining control of both houses in the Legislature, they succeeded in that effort. Now, after the severe gerrymandering of 2020 and when the ‘R’ seems to be a big draw at the polls, several bills have been introduced to revert us back to requiring party labels on judicial candidates (as well as other currently non-partisan offices). This, when our top courts are already lop-sided in favor of the ‘R’s!
As of Friday, there were 1,289 bills introduced in the House and 562 bills had been introduced in the Senate. We’re coming up on the last days to introduce bills through the regular process, thank goodness. We’re also thankful that the vast majority will never make it over to the Governor. This session the Legislature is working hard to live up to its nickname as ‘the Bad Idea Factory’.
Not all Bad
There are lots of good bills being introduced, mostly by the minority, but some with majority sponsors in the lead. It’s unfortunate but true that most bills having a minority lead sponsor will never likely even get a hearing in committee. Having a ‘D’ after the lead sponsor’s name is short for ‘DOA’ on most bills. That being said, there are some bipartisan policy efforts that we hope will move, such as the Affordable Medicaid Buy-In (HB 3274) that eliminates the ‘cliff’ that working folks on Medicaid experience when going over the income limits for coverage; HB 2430, which makes insulin and equipment more affordable for diabetics; and a few others. On the environmental front, bills to regulate PFAS (also known as ‘forever chemicals’) and provide more DEP Oil & Gas Inspectors are also moving. See the health care and climate articles for details.
Thanks for the Greens
A big thanks to all of you who have renewed your membership in the new year! Your ‘green energy’ helps us advocate for more carbon-free, green energy for our current fossil energy dependent state. Foundations don’t allow us to use their dollars to lobby at the Capitol. It’s you, our supporting members that enable us to be there in ‘the rooms where it happens’. Our webpage makes it easy to renew or become a new member of the Citizen Action team. Larger donations to WV-CAEF can be tax-deductible – you pick!