Fireworks, Day One at the 2014 West Virginia Legislature

The first two days of West Virginia’s 81’st Legislative session were already full of contentious fireworks. But the scheduled third day was postponed because of a water emergency that closed the capital building.

I like to look for the silver linings in life. And there IS one related to the chemical spill that shut down the entire Metro Valley region. It’s that NO laws that might negatively impact the church, the faithful, the unborn or natural marriages were passed this day. So I’ll call that our first victory of the session.

Day one the fireworks began just 15 minutes after the opening prayer when the new Democratic leadership in the House of Delegates imposed their will on the Republican minority and suddenly changed a long-standing rule.

The rule is complex but the gist is that historically the minority party had been allowed to request that the house discharge specific bills out of committee and onto the house floor for consideration. Often those bills concerned life, faith, natural marriage and other social issues that the majority party was uncomfortable voting on.

So the discharge motions calling for a vote on those “controversial bills” would be defeated or “set aside” to an inactive calendar by the majority in a procedural vote. But by forcing the procedural vote the minority party could get the majority delegates on record as having voted to set aside or “against” specific “socially conservative” bills by name and number.

But on day 1 with only thirty minutes notice to the minority party, the Democratic leadership introduced House Resolution number 2 to the floor that ended the minority party’s ability to get the majority on record during this election-influenced legislative session.

The winds of political change appear to be blowing in many of our state’s electoral districts. West Virginia’s two dominant political parties are beginning to more closely resemble their respective national party platforms. For better or worse that’s a shift away from West Virginia politics of old but it’s a national trend that seems to have finally made its way to the mountain state. Election strategies are being formulated right now by policy wonks and activists from Mon county to Mingo county. And those strategies will reshape the 2015 Legislature perhaps historically so.

It’s widely know that the EPA, a darling of the national Democratic party, has been harsh on the state’s coal industry and that’s cost the Democratic party votes from its mostly unionized work force. Those devastating EPA actions have been followed by unflattering and surprisingly accurate media coverage of the failed implementation of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act. That one two punch combined with the steady decrease in the number of registered Democrats in our state have set the table for a challenging election cycle for West Virginia Democrats this May and November.

Many political experts believe that the net gain of four seats needed by the Republicans in the House of Delegates is well within reach and both parties are aware of that possibility.

It’s no secret that politicians in Every party seeking office or running for re-election, attempt to appeal to as broad an audience of voters as they can. But it’s in these election years when those of us in the faith community must be ever vigilant to hold our elected officials accountable. We should find especially distasteful the abundance of fence sitting and non-answers and the unwillingness to be on record by the very people charged with protecting our rights of religious expression.

The author Dante in his classic work Dante’s Inferno wrote,” The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in the time of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”

The Bible tells us in the book of Matthew chapter 5 verse 37
Let your word yes …be yes
Your no… no,

Anything more is from the evil one.

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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.
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