Wednesday, March 25, 2015

And now, a word from our sponsor …


While it's true that the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women doesn't have sponsors, per se, we do spend money. And therefore, from time to time, we need to raise a little money.

Where do we spend money? Travel. Annual meeting. Postage. All the various and sundry expense categories necessary for running an advocacy group.

How do we raise money? Dues – one dollar per member of your county club dues goes to the state. We make every effort to have annual meeting registration fees cover the cost of the event. The largest source of annual revenue has been and remains ad sales for our annual meeting program book. We also raffle off a handmade quilt and raise money at our Friday night auction during the meeting weekend.

We'd like to offer training sessions throughout the state on topics of interest to you. So far we've heard you want to learn more about effective use of social media and how to urge more women to run for elected office. Training = expenses.

So. We've committed to publishing a quarterly subscription-based newsletter. Our first issue went to nearly 2000 people, and subscription orders have been trickling in, but in order for Lean to the Left to be successful, we need more. We need YOU.

For less than $3 per month – just $35 – you can brag about your group, learn how other clubs are contributing to their communities, be educated, enlightened, and inspired.

Think about it. Each month, could you forego …

  • a semi-fancy coffee drink?
  • those impulse lottery tickets?
  • a couple songs from iTunes?
  • that app purchase?
  • a bargain book for your Kindle or Nook?

and instead, use that money to support your West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women?

We thought you could. If you haven't clicked through to our subscription form yet, here's one more chance.

Thank you.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Who are we, and what are we doing here?

Who is the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women? We're occasionally asked that question. Lately, we’ve heard from more than a few folks trying to tell us who we are. Or who we should be.

Let's set the record straight.

The WVFDW is a group of women who have joined together to speak out for Democratic principles in West Virginia. We are doctors, lawyers, and stay-at-home moms. We are teachers, retirees, veterans, and business owners. We are union members, college students, artists, moms, daughters, wives, sisters, and much, much more. With approximately 3,000 members, we don’t fit into a nice, neat little box.

Does every member agree on every issue?

Does every member voice her opinion the same way?

Does every member have the same priorities?

That’s what’s great about our group. We are alike and different at the same time. 

So how do we determine the WVFDW message.  It's simple: majority rules. Since we cannot vote on every issue within our group, we agree to stay consistent with the platform set by the West Virginia Democratic Party, defining our message. We have a Communications Committee and Board that keep the message going at all times in many different outlets. 

We were known, not that many years ago, as the tea-and-cookie branch of the County Executive Committees. We still raise money, but we’re doing that differently now. It is the 21st century, after all. Stay in touch with us by subscribing to our quarterly newsletter. And we’re launching a modest retail therapy effort today, as well.

Strong women speaking out with a strong message can stir emotions. Not a week goes by in which we are not criticized, sometimes constructively, sometimes not so much. We’ve been called names. We’ve been ridiculed. We’re frequently given unsolicited advice.  

Here's the deal.

We listen to all constructive ideas.
We toss them around within our membership to see if they are ideas we want to embrace.

Labeling and name-calling do not bother us.  
We occasionally dish it out, and we can take it. We’re not easily intimidated. How you define us is your opinion; if you do so rudely, that says more about you than it does about us. We know we're making a difference when you react.

Snarky comments may be met with snarky comments.
“Snark” is something we do and do well. Sometimes we feel the need to respond, sometimes we don’t. There is no policy here.

We have made mistakes, and we will make more.  
We are not perfect, and we don’t pretend to be. You will find typos, missing words, grammatical errors, misspellings, and more. We try to correct errors when we see them, and we try to thank you when you point them out. We try to be factual in everything we do, but we make mistakes. We also have used poor word choices (very recently, as a matter of fact!). We sincerely apologize when we’re wrong and move on. Let him who is without sin …

We might offend you.
No matter how much we try not to offend people, it happens. It’s not personal. We can’t scrutinize each and every image or word we display, hoping to somehow please everyone. Respectful dialogue is a welcome, but rare, occurrence, especially behind a screen.

We promote Democrats and Democratic principles.
We do not agree with all the Democratic legislators’ votes or positions, nor do we speak for them. The Democratic Party is a big tent, and we feel that adds to our strength. Also, um, we’re partisan.  

We aren't trying to impress you, and we're not seeking your approval.
You don't have to agree with us. We love it when you do, but we also know that many, many, many of you follow us for the sole purpose of finding something with which to disagree. 

We're strong, and we're here to stay. If you are a Democratic woman, we welcome your ideas and input to help us grow stronger.  

We are the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women. Join us

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Done and done

A message from our state Democratic Party chair, Belinda Biafore:

Fellow Democrats,

Today concludes the 2015 Legislative Session and I want to thank all of our Democratic Legislators for standing with West Virginia and fighting for our families as we face this fight against the extreme, radical Republican leadership together. As a Party, we represent hardworking West Virginia families and will continue to fight for the betterment of those families and our state. 

This session, hardworking West Virginians faced an unfathomable attack on their wages, their workplace safety, and their ability to provide for their families by the new Republican leadership.

Not only did the rollback of mine safety and workplace safety lessen the security of workers coming home from a hard day's work safely, but their children now also face threats brought to them by the new Republican majority. The GOP has weakened vaccination laws in West Virginia bringing risk to our children in the public school system. Every parent, grandparent and family member should have the confidence to send their children to school safely and by weakening vaccination laws the new Republican majority has now lessened that confidence. Republican leadership also passed a bill that allows individuals to carry a concealed deadly weapon without training or a permit. Talk about safety risks, how are parents and families supposed to feel safe in our public places, in our communities or even in our neighborhoods? 

Republicans were elected on a promise to their voters to create jobs and better the economy but, here we are, at the end of the session and their voters did not see jobs bills or one plan to create jobs for our state. The only "jobs" bills we have seen pushed by the Republican majority are the "jobs bills" that gut wages and quality jobs that we already have in West Virginia. 

What were they doing with their time? They were busy pushing legislation on behalf of out of state interest groups and big money corporations, and participating in self serving politics. 

It's not right and it's not fair to the West Virginians they broke their promises to. 

What we saw this legislative session from Republican leadership was an extreme radical agenda that hurt hardworking West Virginia families. They gutted wages, rolled back workplace safety and put the education of our children at risk. We will not let them continue to hinder the quality of life for the hardworking West Virginians that have built this state and the children that are the future of this state. The barbaric Republican leadership is moving West Virginia backward, not forward and we will not stand back and let that happen.

This is only the beginning and our Democratic legislators faced a heck of a fight and I cannot thank them enough for standing up for hardworking West Virginians. 

Our fight is not over. Our state was taken from us by out-of-state special interest groups and big money corporations and now is the time we begin the process to get it back! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Don't forget to turn out the lights

As you might imagine, we spend a lot of our time interacting on various and sundry social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter are our faves, and where we're most active. So like and follow us, already.

One thing we've noticed lately, particularly on Facebook, are the number of comments from those who want to leave West Virginia, based on the actions of the newly elected Republican leadership in this legislative session. We've snarked about this previously. Those comments aren't going away.

But West Virginia families are.

And before you tell them not to let the door hit them in the ass on their way out, think of this. Population determines representation in Washington. Every state gets two Senators, but Congressional representation is based on population.

Probably more importantly, electoral votes are based on population.

Come with us back to the year 2000 for just a moment. You remember that election, right? The one in which the Supreme Court elected George W. Bush? Had West Virginia followed previous paths, and voted for Al Gore, Florida's hanging chads would have been irrelevant.

Yes. Think about that. West Virginia's five electoral votes going blue instead of red would have changed the course of history, dramatically.

There is, of course, no way to know whether we'd have spent thousands of lives and trillions of dollars on an unfunded war. But we can surmise.

Which brings us to 2014. Where does the time go? West Virginia is blood-red now, not true-blue, and the current legislature is determined to do some major bloodletting during their 60 Days of Doom. Repeal is the word of the day, day after day, and there's not much left for the left.

And so they're leaving. Maybe that's the Republicans' goal: Reduce the population and you'll

  • reduce the need for public assistance,
  • reduce the student/teacher ratio, and 
  • reduce those pesky liberals who think clean water is important.

But they're also reducing the number of people willing to work, which reduces the tax base, reduces the number of tourists willing to spend their money here and reduces the number of voters.

At any rate, we're here, and we're staying, and we hope enough Democrats will stick around to help us turn West Virginia blue in 2016. How about it … are you in?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Trust us

We're just going to send you straight over to one of our favorite blogs, written by one of our favorite people, for some straight talk about West Virginia Republican politics. Chris Regan, the vice-chair of the state Democratic party, tells it like it is.

You can begin at the beginning and work backwards. Be sure to bookmark it or, better yet, subscribe so you never miss a post.

He's that good.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Standing with and moving forward

People come together for all sorts of reasons. Families, communities, and neighbors unite their strengths to fight for their beliefs, rights, and values. People come together in solidarity. And it's a beautiful thing. 

This weekend marked the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" in Selma. We should all give thanks and remembrance for those who so boldly and bravely risked and gave their lives to fight for the rights of not just African-Americans, but all Americans.  

We've come a long way throughout the years because of movements like this. Not one compares to another; all have fought different fights to build what we are today. 

We cannot afford to go back in any measure. 

Thousands of workers gathered at the West Virginia state capitol for the "Mountaineer Workers Rising" rally on Saturday, standing up for the rights and protections we have fought for to provide for our workers and their families. We have fought to ensure that our workers are provided good wages and to ensure they come safe from a hard days' work. West Virginians were joined by our brothers and sisters from all around our state to support our hardworking families. 

Saturday was what it's all about. 

Hardworking West Virginia families have built this state and we will not stand by while the Republican leadership strips their wages, workplace safety and rights away. 

We need to take it back to our values. What we're seeing right now from the new Republican majority in our Legislature does not represent West Virginia's values. We need to fight for our workers, our families and our children. We can't stop now. We need to be sure that all of our hardworking families are registered to vote and will vote for a leadership that will fight for them, and not for corporate greed and out-of-state interest groups. 

Our voting rights have been fought for, and "Bloody Sunday" serves as a reminder that individuals risked and gave their lives for these voting rights we have today. We must not take that for granted.

We must use our anger, our sadness, our gratitude and our strength to exercise our voting rights and remember who has stood by our children, our families and our workers. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Some bills don't go anywhere

It makes us happy when bills we thought were bad, wrong or stupid live and die on the same day. But wait! Why would a lawmaker introduce a badwrongstupid bill to start with? Oh, you know…

  • States' rights. 
  • Tenth Amendment. 
  • Liberty! Freedom! 'Murica!

Take, for instance, HB2509.

In one page – just seven paragraphs – Delegates Faircloth, McGeehan, Moffatt, Kessinger, J. Nelson and Ihle wanted to pull the Affordable Care Act rug right out from under more than 33,000 West Virginians who enrolled or renewed their enrollment in that socialist, government-run plan commonly known as Obamacare.

Good thing those thousands of citizens have health insurance. People could get INJURED having the rug pulled out from under them.

We know that you know the ACA isn't a socialist, government-run plan. Some people still think so, imagine that. Why, if it were a government-run plan, it would be Medicare! And socialist? That would be the Veteran's Administration, thankyouverymuch.

So what, exactly, did HB2509 say? One sentence in the summation explains: "It determines that the federal legislation is invalid in this state."

Whoa. Just this state? Not all the other states whose citizens are also getting preventive care and reasonable co-pays under the ACA? Just West Virginia?

Who knew we were so special?

Well, they weren't concerned about other states, obviously, because they only represent folks from the Mountain State. But take that one step further, and you have to wonder: WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? And also? WHO WROTE THAT BILL?

Because seriously? When you start from a position that federal legislation is invalid in this state, you have to look past your nose to see what other federal legislation might be affected. Like, um, Medicare, for instance. And Social Security, maybe?

Wonder how that would go over in the state that has the highest number of citizens benefiting from Social Security Disability and the fourth oldest population.

Anyhoo. The bill was introduced on January 29 and went nowhere fast. We haven't seen it since. Except on MSNBC.

Maybe it wouldn't have died so quickly if it had been covered by Obamacare.

P.S. We're keeping a close watch on the Supreme Court, as it hears arguments regarding the Affordable Care Act. WV's Attorney General is just as eager to eliminate subsidies in West Virginia as that handful of Delegates is. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Because we like you

How about a little public service post today, instead of a snarky rant? We're full of snarky rants, but time's a'wasting and the information we're providing today – while not snarky – is valuable. Pay attention.

The West Virginia legislature's website is filled with useful and important information. If you're not familiar with it, it's not too late to get up to speed.

The website lists all members of both chambers, along with their political party affiliation, which district they represent (call your county clerk if you don't know your district), their statehouse mailing and e-mail addresses, and their Capitol phone number.

You'll also find dropdown menus under each tab with even more resources. Clicking on each menu item will take you to various areas of interest for each of the main tabs.

Click the Committee link, for instance, to navigate to each committee's daily agenda. You'll be able to see what's coming up for committees that are working on bills running through both houses.

So how do you find out about the bills? If you know the bill's number, you can enter it in a search box and another page with all the information about that proposed law appears – sponsors and co-sponsors, the bill's text, amendments to the bill and, after it's been voted on, the roll call vote.

We've been posting roll call vote lists on the Federation's Facebook page, and our readers are engaging in great numbers – commenting, liking, sharing, and making note of who votes how. Roll call votes are available to download as .pdf files, which you can then e-mail to interested contacts and groups. You can take a screenshot if you want to share it on social media.

But what if you don't know the bill's number? Enter a keyword – the topic, the name of the bill, a keyword – in the other search box on the Bill Status page. Entering the words "water storage tank" in the keyword search area produces results in paragraph form. You have to hunt for the bill number. If it's a House of Delegates bill, look for "hbXXXX." Senate bills are preceded by "sb" and have three numbers.
We've highlighted the bill number. You can then click on the blue line of text or enter the three digits in the bill number search box to get to the bill's page.

Unless you know your way around legal terminology, bills can be difficult to read. Nearly every bill affects some part of the West Virginia Code – all the laws that govern the Mountain State and her people. So when a bill says it affects, for example,  §17 A- 3 - 23  (Amended Code)you can then go look up that section in the Code to see what the legislature wants to change.

Also included under the Code tab are the texts of the West Virginia and U.S. Constitutions.

The Educational tab includes, among other things, the topic "How a Bill Becomes a Law."

Due to some of the shenanigans being pulled by the 82nd legislature, we feel some editing might need to be done to that section. We are particularly concerned with the Creating Public Charter Schools Act of 2015, which was tabled indefinitely in a Senate committee, but was then discharged from committee and sent to the floor – a rather unprecedented move by Senate President Bill Cole. The Charleston Gazette's Phill Kabler called it "ham-fisted."

Our hope is that, in providing this information, we've empowered you to find out more about the legislative process and which lawmakers have voted with you or against you. We feel the Republicans who are now in charge campaigned on false pretenses, promising measures that would attract businesses and grow jobs.

Keeping track of their votes will help you tremendously in 616 days, WHEN (not if!) you vote.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

West Virginians will rise again

This legislative session has been, in a word, brutal. They – those pesky Republicans – campaigned on Jobs! Prosperity! Economic improvement! Opportunity! Change!

Those of us who aren't wealthy and/or well-connected will feel the brunt of their lies. Those of us who are teachers, miners, construction workers. Those of us living on Social Security, retired, going to school, wanting to go to school. We're screwed.

Women got kicked in the gut this session. Maybe we should just take a celibacy pledge. Would that make them happy?

Anyway … it's not over yet. WVFDW will be publishing a legislative wrap-up in the next issue of our Lean to the Left newsletter. If you haven't subscribed, we hope you will. Before they pass a "Read What We Tell You To" bill.
Let's not wait until 2016 to get this party started, mmmkay? We want ideas, we want candidates and we want to turn West Virginia back to blue.

It's always been her best color.