Opinion

Legislature flops

An editorial from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After two months of struggle, the 2015 Legislature ended Saturday night with many proposals slipping down the drain. Here are some losers:

■ CHARTER SCHOOLS — A plan for private-run public schools died after a House committee voted to let the schools reject gay students, teachers and staff.

■ COMMON CORE — Attempts to wipe out national school standards failed after state officials said it would cost more than $100 million to draft substitute requirements.

■ CIGARETTE TAX — A bill to add $1 to the state cigarette tax — and also allow smoking rooms in casinos and lodges — failed in the final hours.

■ LAND POOLING — Efforts to force reluctant landowners to allow drilling, when most of their neighbors favor it, likewise faltered.

■ U.S. CONVENTION — A resolution calling for a national constitutional convention to adopt a balanced budget amendment ended in defeat.

■ RIDE-SHARING — A bill affecting Uber-style car service died after hard-liners sought to let drivers discriminate against gays.

■ POLITICAL CASH — A proposal to let rich donors make big campaign gifts while concealing their identity didn’t survive the Saturday midnight deadline.

■ RIGHT TO WORK — This plan to let employees avoid joining unions or paying fees likewise disappeared.

Two other controversial bills — one forbidding cities and counties to pass any laws affording equality to gays; the other mandating jail for state employees who provide medical insurance through the Affordable Care Act — mercifully died in committees.

Some changes passed by the Legislature are so disgusting they should be vetoed quickly by Gov. Tomblin. One is the plan to let people carry hidden pistols without permits, background checks or safety training. Another weakens mine safety. Another drastically weakens inspections of chemical tanks of the sort that ruined the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians a year ago. Another allows more parents to elude vaccinations for their children.

Incidentally, after legislators approved sale of raw milk, a reader sent us a quote from the book, FDR, by Jean Edward Smith. It says: “The death rate for bottle-fed infants … was extremely high. Over a thousand babies died in Manhattan alone the summer that Franklin Jr. fell ill. The trouble was traced to unpasteurized or unadulterated milk drunk from unsterilized bottles.”

Statehouse correspondent Phil Kabler said surveying damage caused by the 2015 Legislature is like looking at a 20-car highway crash. We hope that vetoes eliminate part of the harm.

Some changes passed by the Legislature are so disgusting they should be vetoed quickly by Gov. Tomblin.

To read more from The Charleston Gazette, click here. 

 

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