Stephen Smith, a member of the coalition’s Steering Committee, called the lawmaking “incredibly tumultuous.”
Example: In early January the coalition wanted to maintain or increase funding for a variety of child and family support programs. But the regular session had hardly begun when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin unveiled his budget, which proposed $980,272 in cuts to those programs.
The coalition’s other top agenda items for 2014 and the Legislative outcome of each:
* Increase the state minimum wage: Passed.
* “Move to Improve,” a proposal aimed at increasing kids’ physical activity during school hours: Died in House Education Committee.
* Create a “Future Fund” with some severance tax revenue: Passed.
* Reduce meth lab activity by requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine: Died.
Smith said, “West Virginia families have spoken and the ball is in the Governor’s court now. The legislative victories — Future Fund, minimum wage, the early childhood budget, and so on — are a great start. But now we need the Governor to sign the bills and make them law.”
Other legislation backed by the coalition and the outcome of each:
* “Quality Homes, Quality Jobs Act,” giving municipalities and counties more tools to re-develop vacant or dilapidated properties: Passed.
* Prohibit the use of food-stamp benefits to buy sugary drinks: Died.
* “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” requiring employers to make accommodations for pregnant employees: Passed.
* Increase the tobacco tax: Failed.
In a prepared statement issued March 14, Smith said, “This year, we learned the power that everyday citizens have when they unite across their differences… We also learned that we must continue to grow that power.
“On some issues, we saw legislators choose lobbyists over kids, because they thought it was the politically smart thing to do. Through community outreach and education, it is our job to show legislators in the coming year that supporting our kids is the politically smart thing to do.”
The coalition is planning a strategy retreat and leadership training sessions April 11 and April 12 in the Eastern Panhandle.