The legislative graveyard
The 2023 regular legislative session is over, and we’re bringing our “The Good, the Bad and the Stupid” series to a close. While over 300 bills passed and went to the governor for his signature, hundreds more didn’t. We’ve highlighted several bills already: ones we thought had great potential but died in committee. Today, we’ll look at several bills that passed at least one chamber but were ultimately laid to rest in the legislative graveyard.
Good: SB 124, to require boards of education to craft dating and sexual violence prevention programs for high schoolers. The teen years are when we start to explore romantic and sexual relationships, and it would have been a good idea to talk to teens about how to avoid — and how to not commit — emotional and physical abuse.
Bad: SB 130, the “Anti-Racism Act,” to forbid the teaching of certain concepts. Forgive us if we start humming “Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is Dead.” The Anti-Racism Act died last year on a procedural technicality, and this year it died in a House committee after passing the Senate. Hopefully, lawmakers will take this as a sign to not resurrect the anti-“critical race theory” B.S. again next year.
Stupid: SB 619, to allow the teaching of “intelligent design” as an alternative to evolution. Intelligent design is just the latest iteration of creationism. Lawmakers were smart to let this one go — it was sure to lead to a lawsuit over state-sponsored religious teaching in schools.
Good: SB 489, to require schools to provide discrete access to feminine hygiene products to grades 3-12. Girls can’t control when and where their menstrual cycles hit, and if they’re stuck at school when it happens, the least schools could do is make sure there are free and easily accessible pads and tampons available.
Bad: SB 243, to require “residential substance use disorder service facilities, upon discharging patients, to offer those patients a means of transportation” out of state. Essentially, trying to deport recovering addicts. Besides being cruel, this unfunded mandate would have required treatment centers to divert time, money and staff from more important services.
Stupid: SB 251, requiring schools to display “In God We Trust.” Perhaps West Virginia legislators saw the problems this bill has caused in other states — including fights over whether the motto can be written in rainbow font or different languages — and rightfully chose to let this one die.
Good: SB 195, to put emergency-use glucagon for low blood sugar in schools. Sometimes people with diabetes can experience hypoglycemia so severe that juice or a candy bar alone isn’t enough, or the person may be too disoriented to safely consume food or may be unconscious. That’s where glucagon comes in. It comes as a nasal spray or an injection, and it’s used to treat dangerously low blood sugar. With an increasing rate of diabetes among West Virginians, it would have been a good idea to have this rescue medication available in all schools.
There were several “bad” bills we haven’t previously mentioned that also died, some of them in committee. Among them were a couple of anti-drag bills, one to ban adult stores and strip clubs, another to allow criminal penalties against libraries for having “obscene” material and one to eliminate the already extremely narrow exceptions for rape and incest in West Virginia’s abortion law. Fortunately, all these bills are dead and hopefully they stay buried in the legislative graveyard.