Editorials, Opinion

The Good, the Bad and the Stupid 2

Good: HB 4428 — a candidate for election for any state, county, or local office is required to have his or her principal residence within the election district for the office for which they are seeking to be elected. The bill defines “principal residence” as “residence where the candidate is domiciled which includes both physical residency and an intent to remain in the state, district, county, or municipality.” This bill passed the House and is in the Senate.

If your U.S. history classes ever made it as far as Reconstruction, you may have learned the term “carpetbagger,” which referred to opportunistic Northerners who flooded the South after the Civil War to fill power vacuums in business and politics. Merriam-Webster defines carpetbagger more generally as “a nonresident or new resident who seeks private gain from an area often by meddling in its business or politics.” Unfortunately, we have several of those in West Virginia politics.

We are all in favor of residency requirements for elected office. As we said last week, how can someone represent an area and its people if that person has never really lived there?

Bad: HB 4552 — to ensure party affiliation is consistent with candidate’s voter registration. From the bill: the appropriate official “If a candidate’s current party affiliation is not as stated on the Certificate of Announcement, the filing shall be refused.” This bill has passed the House and has moved to the Senate.

This one is bad because nearly 25% of West Virginia’s registered voters are Independent — but Independents rarely do well in elections, because they don’t have the clout or resources of the two established parties. This bill could prevent a quarter of the electorate from running for a partisan office unless they change their party affiliation.

Stupid: SB 280 — allowing teachers in public schools to discuss scientific theories. From the bill: No school “shall prohibit a public school classroom teacher from discussing or answering questions from students about scientific theories of how the universe and/or life came to exist.” This bill passed the Senate and is being considered by the House.

 The caveat here is that what the bill is actually allowing is “intelligent design,” which is not a scientific theory at all, but rather a slightly watered down version of Biblical creationism. To be clear: There is no scientific evidence of “intelligent design,” and it is not recognized by any reputable institution as a scientific theory. Which makes this is yet another attempt to force religious indoctrination into our public schools despite the clear edict to keep church and state separate.

Maybe good: SB 448 — Requiring age-appropriate instruction on Holocaust in public schools. From the bill text: “All public schools … shall give age-appropriate instruction on the Holocaust, the systematic, planned annihilation of European Jews and other groups by Nazi Germany, a watershed event in the history of humanity, to be taught in a manner that leads to an investigation of human behavior, an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and an examination of what it means to be a responsible and respectful person …”

In theory, all of this sounds good. But, frankly, we don’t trust this Legislature on matters of education. This is the same body that wants to add any depiction of transgender people to the definition of “obscene,” is threatening to send librarians to jail, thinks that an extreme ideological group has the same scientific authority as an actual scientific/medical institution (Live Action is not the same as the American Heart Association) and would have teachers fired if a history lesson makes a student uncomfortable. We wouldn’t be surprised if the next thing legislators do is determine Holocaust education is not appropriate at any age — therefore effectively banning any lessons on the topic.