Day 34: Delegates will take a vote on passage on "The Women's Bill of Rights"
And House Judiciary is finally taking up that bill that would open up librarians to felony charges
Good morning and welcome back to 60 Days, your daily guide to the West Virginia Legislature.
Today is Monday, February 12th, 2024 — the 34th day of the regular session.
Members of the group West Virginia Professional Educators will be at the Capitol today to lobby lawmakers on issues facing teachers. This year’s focus of The American Cancer Society’s West Virginia Cancer Action Day is on increasing funding for tobacco prevention programs. Today is the YWCA Lobby Day at the Capitol and finally, Corrections Day at the Legislature arrives as state officials report progress addressing issues that led Governor Justice to declare a state of emergency at West Virginia lockups in August 2022. Justice called out members of the West Virginia National Guard to help alleviate chronic staffing issues. Just last week he gave up update, saying the situation is easing. And during his State of the State address opening this year’s Legislative Session, Justice said he hoped to stand down Guard troops by the end of this summer.
There’s a lot going on the Capitol today and following last night’s Super Bowl, I feel like a lot of coffee will need to be brewed.
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Today’s Floor Agenda:
The "Women’s Bill of Rights” will be the big thing on the House floor. The committee substitute for H. B. 5243 is up for a vote on passage.
Detractors say the bill doesn’t really spell out much in the way of outlining the rights of women beyond guaranteeing single sex spaces such as bathrooms and locker rooms and codifying in state code the definitions of “man” and “woman.”
On Friday, Democrats proposed a slew of amendments including equal pay protections, eight weeks of paid family leave and removing a tax on feminine hygiene products.
They all failed except one — Democrats successfully amended the bill to outlaw marital rape.
The committee substitute for H. B. 5161 is also notably up for a vote on passage.
The bill is the first to come out of the House’s new Artificial Intelligence Committee.
It would create a “digital wallet” — a space for West Virginians to keep any licenses or certifications they may need for their jobs in one place.
Supporters of a bill aimed at reducing the amount of secondhand smoke children are exposed to are about to have a moment.
Following years of futility, Sen. Tom Takubo’s (R-Kanawha) bill that would ban smoking in vehicles when children are present is getting a vote on passage today by the full Senate. Takubo makes his living as a pulmonologist.
A longtime opponent of the bill, Sen. Mike Azinger (R-Wood), was the only member who did not support the bill when it was voted out of Senate Health last week. He has said he views it as a “parental rights” issue.
Pay attention to the House Judiciary Committee today. The panel is finally taking up that measure that Democrats have called “The Lockup Librarians” bill.
H. B. 4654 would remove bona fide schools, public libraries, and museums from the list of exemptions from criminal liability relating to distribution and display to minor of obscene matter. In other words, librarians and public school personnel could face felony charges for displaying “obscene matter” under the bill.
The measure was the subject of the first public hearing of the legislative session back on January 17th.
According to a Washington Post analysis, at least seven states have passed similar laws in recent years.
House Judiciary is meeting at 2:30 p.m. You can listen to the proceedings online here.
Here’s the rest of the committee schedule:
1:00 p.m. House Finance
1:00 p.m. House Government Organization
1:00 p.m. Senate Transportation and Infrastructure
2:00 p.m. House Education
2:00 p.m. Senate Banking and Insurance
3:00 p.m. Senate Judiciary
60 Days links: Reading that’s good for you and good for West Virginia. Click on the links to help support the reporters who work at the state Capitol day in, day out.
Here’s a look at how the amendment stage played out on Friday on “The Women’s Bill of Rights” — from Amelia Ferrell Knisely of West Virginia Watch.
In this story for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, Steven Allen Adams, the state government reporter for Ogden Newspapers, reports on where things stand now that the session has made it past the halfway mark.
Mike Nolting of WVMetroNews has this update on how proposed solar energy legislation is faring so far.
Phil Kabler’s Saturday Statehouse Beat column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
And ICYMI — In recent years, Dave learned his grandfather was wanted by the FBI. He’s planning a newsletter and podcast to chronicle what he digs up. Take a look and maybe subscribe.
Know of any bills we should be keeping tabs on? Any events, press conferences, etc., we should know about? Tell us about them in the comments.