Welcome to our 2024 weekly Legislative update. In it we can’t possibly cover all the more than 1,300 bills that have been introduced so far as of this writing, but we’ll endeavor to cover some of the highlights (and the lowlights) of the session. We’ll also link to information from allies and credible news sources so you can do a deeper dive into issues you care deeply about. Credit to Crystal Good, poet, former lobbyist & editor of Black by God the West Virginian for nicknaming the antics that go on under the golden dome after the high school of our capital city.
Your Actions Needed
This update isn’t an armchair document, but a call to action! Legislators are elected and paid by us the voters, and as such should be considered our employees. As good employers, it’s on us to let our employees know when they’re doing a good job (and when they’re not). Also, who would hire a worker and then turn them loose to do whatever? We must give our Legislators information and direction by telling them what we expect from them during the course of the session (and fire those who don’t do a good job at the next election). So read on and then take action! After all that’s what Citizen Action is all about!
Statement on the State
Speaking of lowlights, I forced myself to watch the Governor’s state of the state/Senate campaign kickoff address and won’t go into the weeds here, but he did call for some good stuff such as a childcare tax credit and pay raise for teachers and other public employees to offset the increases in PEIA. On the flip side, he also called climate activists “crazy” for wanting to move away from fossil fuels citing old coal Industry propaganda about “freezing in the dark” if we quit burning coal. Yes, this week is the first real cold snap of the winter, and yes, coal still accounts for 91% of the electricity produced in WV. However, we must transition to renewables if the planet (and our civilization) is to survive. Big Jim proposed giving away millions to various good causes and be sure he’ll be there to hand over the checks or cut the ribbons on them. One thing he forgot to mention when lauding the success in landing new companies and rebuilding infrastructure is that a lot of the funding for these came through the Biden Administration’s policies. Go figure!
Resources for Citizen Activists
Below are links to our allies and media that we used to stay informed and engaged. Take a look at those you’re not familiar with, as we think you’ll be impressed with the content!
Here is a short list:
- Mountain State Spotlight – Sign up here to receive daily evening updates during the West Virginia legislative session!
- 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.
Powering Citizen Action
As always we want to let you know that YOU are the power in Citizen Action! Your calls, letters and meetings with lawmakers really make a difference! Something else that makes a big difference is your membership donations. Please take a minute and go to renew or become a brand new supporting member at www.wvcag.org/membership. Thanks in advance for your generosity and support!