Before I continue with politics in this update I need to take a moment and make a special prayer request from our family of faith. News outlets here in West Virginia have reported in the past 24 hours that Monongahela County Delegate Tony Barill sustained non-life threatening injuries in an accidental shooting when he was hit by an errant bullet from his son in an apparent suicide.
This is a sober reminder that all life is precious.
Proverbs 27:1 cautions us, Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
Our most sincere prayers go out to the Barill family.
There’s only six weeks left for our state Senators and Delegates to agree on new legislation and get those bills over to the Governor’s desk. This session they’ll be about two thousand bills proposed but only 200 or so will actually get voted on.
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Democrat Nancy Pelosi a couple of years ago said, “Elections have consequences.” A huge consequence of losing a majority of the seats in an election is that the winning party gets to dominate each legislative committee. That includes the judiciary committee where most bills impacting faith are debated. That means a lot of the outcome of this 81st session was pre-determined back in 2012’s elections. And that means this November’s elections will determine much of which freedoms we get to keep in 2015 and 16’s sessions. Those are high stakes.
And yesterday was West Virginia’s filing date for any candidate seeking to hold office in 2015 and 16. A slew of old and new faces formally declared that they’re running.
The Family Policy Council will mail each candidate a survey. We’ll ask them how they’ll vote on our issues then we’ll make all their answers available on our website. Though I wish we could, we can’t make any candidate return our survey. But much can be learned from those who answer our questions. And much can be inferred towards those who choose not to.
In 2012, the Democratic party won the most seats in all three West Virginia houses. So for the remainder of this session they control: the Senate, House and the governor’s mansion. The Democratic leadership now chooses which bills are being introduced and by those choices they’re pushing their political agenda.
If in next November’s elections the Republican party wins a majority in a legislative house then the GOP would earn the right to put forth a likely different political agenda. But no matter which party a legislator belongs to he or she can’t possibly be an expert on all 2000 bills they’ll be asked to consider. That’s where lobbyists come in.
There’s only 135 elected officials but there are several hundred lobbyists. In addition to being President of the Family Policy Council I’m also a registered lobbyist.
I, along with others on our team, talk with members of both parties and help draft bills that protect our religious rights. But sometimes legislators are unsure, confused or stubborn no matter how hard we try to get them to see the light.
And sometimes they know the truth but are unwilling to vote the right way because they would have to vote against their party’s leadership to do it.
In those cases we need you, the faith community, or as the media refers to you, the “Values Voters”. We’ll then ask you to call your senator or delegate as their constituent and politely urge them to vote a specific way. Sometimes a good bill needs your help to pass. And sometimes a bad bill needs your help to be killed.
A legislator often ignores me – a lobbyist. But they may not ignore you, you are their boss.
So then we need you to pick up your cell phone and make one call. It doesn’t cost much, if anything. But not calling may cost you everything. If you don’t guide them then the people that work for you may make a choice that takes away your individual rights.
So we’re just two weeks in and already we’re tracking a dozen or so bills that may impact the faith community. You can track along with us on our website but continue to look for these twice-weekly updates and find out how you can help choose the laws, that will and won’t govern your family.
The Family Policy Council faithfully influences West Virginia’s laws, lawmakers and state elections to defend the constitutional right of religious freedom for families and churches. Family Policy Council of West Virginia is affiliated with Focus on the Family and CitizenLink.