In a piece published in the Charleston Daily Mail January 15, 2015, Senator Bill Cole wrote:
"In November, the majority of West Virginians voted for a change. For the first time in three generations, there will be a new majority at the Statehouse in Charleston, and with that brings an opportunity to approach our state’s challenges differently.
Change is seldom easy, and it may leave some feeling unsettled. We will not be perfect, and we will make mistakes, [emphasis is ours, all ours] but we will stay focused on the goal: Keeping our kids in West Virginia. My hope is by being a body of action and not words, we will show that we are committed to working for those who have placed their faith in us to represent them."
We will now quibble.
If we hear one more Republican claim they won in November by a majority, we may resort to violence. And, wow! A big thanks goes out to our Republican leaders for making it much easier to do so, with a bill that allows us to carry our concealed handgun without a permit. And you can begin doing that when you're 18.
Which we're not. So presumably we would have cooler heads.
Thirty-seven percent of West Virginia's eligible voters showed up to cast their ballots last November. You do the math. Thirty-seven percent does NOT a majority make.
Senator Cole's purpose in writing that piece was to outline his plan for making West Virginia the "forever home" for young people. "I want to keep our kids home," were his exact words.
He mentioned better schools, and then pushed for a way to let regular folk like you and us become teachers without working for it. Like the rest of the teachers have done. And he reallyreallyreally has his heart set on charter schools, so much so that when the bill was tabled indefinitely in committee, he pulled out the "it depends on what your definition of 'tabled indefinitely' is" strategy.
We'll leave it to you to determine from where he pulled it.
He wants to create a legal and business climate so companies will come here and provide jobs. That sounds all lofty and all, but if workers aren't paid fair wages, who's going to do the work? Even our neighbor to the north, Republican Governor John Kasich, says 'right to work' laws aren't necessary in order to attract business.
Of course, that's in not-West-Virginia Ohio, so we shall see what happens. As for the legal climate – we're not lawyers. OH! And neither is Senator Cole! And he's proving it by presenting bill after bill after bill that will eventually face a court challenge. BECAUSE THEY'RE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
Finally, Senator Cole wants to "correct those areas" where West Virginia is out of sync with
Texas the rest of the country. We're going waaaaaaaaaay out on a limb here and guessing this goal has something to do with Ye Olde "West Virginia Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act," or as we like to call it, the "We Don't Think Gays Belong in West Virginia No Way No How Act." HB2881 strikes down local ordinances that protect LGBT citizens. Charleston and Morgantown and Thurmond would see their anti-discrimination laws overturned if HB2881 passes. Because, you know, Father Knows Best.
(To be fair, this bill originated in the House of Delegates. Which does not mean
Old King Senator Cole isn't tossing his tiara about it.)
While other states across this great nation of ours are passing non-discrimination bills – North Dakota, Nebraska, and Georgia (cough – red states – cough) came up in one quick Google news search – West Virginia's lawmakers seem to think we'd be out of step if we made it illegal to fire a gay employee or evict a gay tenant.
Clearly, it's West Virginia lawmakers (not all of them, but that pesky 37 percent majority) who are out of step.
So. If you were 18 years old, getting ready to move on with your life by stepping into the job market or entering the college of your choice, would you be comfortable here in West Virginia?
Would you feel safe at a WVU tailgate party where your fellow 18-year-olds were drunk and carrying concealed weapons?
Would you want your grandma living in a nursing home where liabilities for poor care were reduced?
If you chose to follow in your family's footsteps and work in the mines, would you feel safe, now that West Virginia's lawmakers have made the mines less safe?
Would you want to stay in West Virginia with your same-sex partner or spouse (YES! You can get married here!) if you knew you could be fired at any minute and for no reason relating to your work performance?
We're tired of writing, and we haven't even gotten to the woman things. Which is odd, since we're a woman organization. But damn, there's just too much! The woman things and the campaign finance things and the ACA things will have to be separate posts. Coming soon!