Libertarians Hold Speaker Hostage, Force Republicans to Abandon Platform; Medical Pot One Step Closer to West Virginia

 

The Family Policy Council Capitol Update: 

Only 24 members of the West Virginia House were brave enough to vote against SB386 legalizing marijuana. That means a combination of 76 Republicans and Democrats and an Independent voted to make “medical cannibis” legal by backing Senate Bill 386 known as the Medical Cannibis Act. 76-24 (Click to see the roll call vote.)

Beware West Virginia, Socialism always fails because eventually you run out of other peoples money and libertarianism always fails because eventually you run out of other people’s morality.

When bills are passed in one house a message is sent to the other house via a paper copy of the bill and this typically mundane task is handled by a page or secretary or lowly staffer. But last Thursday Senate President Mitch Carmichael sent a strange emissary parade across the Capitol building from the west wing. The parade trailed around the rotunda and eventually made it’s way to the House clerk’s office.
This almost never-been-seen-before formal attache’, headed by the Senate Clerk Clark Barnes, included multiple members of the media including TV cameras. Barnes carried the unexpected message that the Republican led Senate had passed SB386, a bill legalizing “medical” cannibis. The jarring message was ostantasiously delivered to the House with much pomp and circumstance so as not to be set aside or land into a stack of other senate messages about legislation.

Shame on the Republican-led senate for kicking this tire fire of a bill over to the House and putting our Speaker Tim Armstead in a horrible no-win position.

The standard procedure is the House would receive messages from the Senate about passed Senate bills and then the Speaker of the House would assign those bills to various committees. The Speaker Tim Armstead has been consistently vocal that he opposed the legalization of marijuana on the moral ground that more intoxicants, no matter what the motivation, is not the way to move West Virginia forward.

If the speaker assigned SB386 to one or two committees as the senate had done, the bill would likely not have time to be considered this session. That is a common procedure used by both houses to prevent objectionable bills from being considered. So several libertarian-leaning Republican House Delegates, who were proponents of legalizing marijuana, convinced a total of 19 Republicans to join with the 36 Democrats and rebel against the Speaker. It was a rarely-used procedural motion to dispense with committee and push the bill directly to the floor of the House without being vetted. The House leadership was caught a bit flat-footed and the motion passed 56-40 with 6 absent.

Using a technical motion the Speaker could still have sent the bill to the rules committee where it would have died. But those leading the rebellion threatened to call for a motion to vacate the chair. That is a motion for new internal House elections with the intention of replacing the Speaker. The previous motion had passed quickly and by an unexpected margin of 56-40. And since several delegates were missing, the vote count on a vacate motion might have been close enough that the Speaker’s chair was basically held hostage over “medical” pot. It was an embarrassing day for sons and daughters of West Virginia and perhaps an unforgivable day for those engaged in that subterfuge.

…we are the Family Policy Council and no one is more compassionate than us towards the suffering of a family member but SB386 = BAD – Allen Whitt President, Family Policy Council

When the senate marijuana bill got to the House it created three days of emotion-fueled, kabuki theater. Long speeches filled with anecdotal stories of family or coworkers who perhaps had some positive outcome from blazing up a marijuana blunt. Endless internet stories of veterans with PTSD, children with seizures and the miracle that was marijuana. It’s pertinent to interject here we are the Family Policy Council and no one is more compassionate than us towards the suffering or loss of a family member. But we should never make law for the masses as a result of an emotional, personal experience, especially one involving suffering or loss of life. None can be truly be trusted to make a dispassionate, logical, well-thought-out decision on a new law that may have terrible unintended consequences, when tragedy fuels the motivation for that law. There is an adage taught in the first year of some law schools and it states, “Hard cases make for bad law.”

“There is no such thing as “medical marijuana.”  Executive Director of the West Virginia Board of Physicians April 2, 2017

“We as physicians can’t prescribe you 20 milligrams of a marijuana plant to smoke. It’s untested, likely has contaminants of multiple other active and reactive compounds. And smoke of any kind even in healthy lungs, has been proven damaging.” 

Forcing SB386 through to the floor, by a band of irreverent Republican delegates, led to a rushed review of a bill that will legalize a drug banned by United States Federal law. Please be aware that if any West Virginia bank does business with any of the participants in the new drug industry that this bill would create, that bank will be in violation of Federal Law and will be shut down by the banking commission.

SB386 is not just about allowing sick kids to have an appetite during chemo. It flies in the face of American law much like sanctuary cities fly in the face of American law and make us all less safe. SB386 would create a whole new industry based on an illicit, controlled substance that is known as a gateway drug in a state that already has a severe opioid problem.

The second reading of the bill was a late-night vote to consider a rushed amendment that was created by a House legal staffer to build some minimal safety standards into the bill. That vote was a midnight victory for some common sense. Thankfully the bill was amended in a razor-close 51-48 vote so at least there are substantial safeguards in it now. The original version the senate sent over was truly an offense to any voter that believes the spread of intoxicants makes our state less safe. But either version is bad for our state.

In a rare public position statement on a bill, the West Virginia State Republican Party itself, sent a letter to all of it’s members opposing SB386 before the final House vote. But multiple Republican House Delegates openly mocked the usage of a Holy Scripture verse that was included in the letter from the party. Sadly it’s clear from that reaction, that in their recruitment of candidates in the past couple of election cycles, the Republicans now have within their midst, several elected members who do not believe in the party’s conservative platform. And frankly to mock scripture…in West Virginia…the Republican primary election voters will not take kindly to that if there is an opponent that makes it a campaign issue. (And they should. And if they don’t we will.)

But the letter had little impact and on the third and final House vote, the bill carried 76-24. For some Republicans, even those of high character and who can still be trusted, this will be a blight on their voting record. It should rightfully be considered an abandonment of their own party’s platform. But even good people can sometimes be fooled by fools.

If you’re a Republican and voted for SB386 in any form, then you defied your own elected leadership, defied your own party’s platform and you did not make a Republican vote.

Now the amended bill is headed back to the senate, where they will likely agree to the changes. But in a what-goes-around-comes-around twist, three precious legislative days were wasted by the House when they were forced to amend and defend against a cultrally-destructive bill. That will likely mean the death of several important Senate bills because now there won’t be enough time for the House to consider them before this Saturday’s end-of-session deadline. When it passed the House some conservative Senators were quoted, “Wow when we voted for SB386 we were just trying to get the pothead activists off our back and send it over to the House to die. We never thought the House would actually take that bill up.” #Leadership #Fail

Senate President Mitch Carmichael said more than once. “We aren’t going to focus this session on any controversial social issues. We are going to focus on the budget.”  But here we are with a new legal pot bill, sponsored by the senate, and no budget bill with four days left. When will the Republican voters in Putnam County learn?
The West Virginia Senate will now have to vote once more to agree to the changes that the House made, but since only 6 of the 34 voted against it last time…well…pray it fails. But don’t be surprised to hear it passes and get’s signed by the governor into law.

Shame on the Republican-led senate for kicking this flaming tire fire of a bill over to the House and putting our Speaker Tim Armstead in a horrible no-win position.


Shame on the Senate’s short-sightedness, shame on the House’s anecdotal “evidence,” and shame on West Virginia for opening this Pandora’s Box that has damaged families, children and the culture of other states before us.

For faith voters, we will have clear alternative options for many of these offenders in the primaries just 60 weeks from now and in the 2018 general election.

Get involved or expect more of the same. It’s a dangerous time. Contact us and we will train you to be a volunteer, or show you how to be…

1. a Member Supporter, or 2. a candidate or 3. just a knowledgeable voter. But you must act to become at least one of those 3 categories if we have any hope of restoring morality into our state policies.

Please help us fight this fight. Can you contribute $25, $50, $100 or even $1000 today towards our efforts to defend against the legal spread of illicit drugs protect you rights of religious conscience.? Click here to donate online!  

Allen Whitt,

President 

Family Policy Council of West Virginia