Editorials, Opinion

The Good, the Bad and the Stupid 6

Good: HB 4223 — “that the Division of Corrections provide each probationer with physical copies of their birth certificate and Social Security Administration card upon release from a facility.”

Both of these documents are essential to securing financial accounts, housing and employment. Multiple studies have shown that when former inmates have access to housing and work, they are less like to reoffend. This is a small step that can have a larger impact on reducing recidivism.

Bad: SB 593 — “prohibiting ranked choice voting in any election held in West Virginia.” (For an in-depth explanation of ranked choice voting, refer to our Jan. 5, 2024, editorial.) This bill passed the Senate Government Organization committee and is now in Senate Judiciary.

This one is bad in two respects: First, it is a blatant attempt to maintain the status quo — ranked choice voting is known for disrupting typical political party power structures and favoring more moderate candidates. Second, anything that limits a person’s ability to vote for the candidate of their choice is terrible policy and should be rejected.

Stupid: HB 5240 — “relating to restricting speech by eliminating woke words and agendas from state government documents, websites, literature, and in person. … the following exclusionary and sexist terms shall be replaced with accurate, female-affirming alternatives” — followed by a list of inclusive words that are to be replaced with “woman”-only words.

We wish we were making this stuff up.  Much like the “Women’s Bill of Rights,” the sole purpose of this bill is to erase any gender identity other than “man” or “woman.”

Perhaps the stupidest part of this bill is it only impacts government documents, so lawmakers would be restricting their own speech.

Good: HB 4004 — “Upon release from incarceration for a felony conviction either through pardon, parole, probation, or completion of sentence, a person shall be eligible to register to vote and to vote.”

Voting is a right and responsibility granted to all citizens of the United States. Generations of men and women from all racial and religious backgrounds fought to make sure no one is unfairly excluded from the definition of “citizen.” A felon is not stripped of their citizenship upon conviction; therefore, it is wrong to strip them of their right to participate in the democratic process.

Bad: HB 4962 — prohibiting city or county governments or housing authorities to require hotels/motels to accept housing vouchers for homeless individuals or families. This bill passed the House Subdivisions committee and is in House Judiciary.

The problem with this is many programs rely on hotel/motels for temporary shelter for unhoused families and this could make things much more difficult for both the families and the programs.

Technically this grants hotel/motels a choice in accepting housing vouchers. However, this would not be the only bill aimed at harassing or criminalizing people experiencing homelessness, so we are skeptical of its purpose.

Stupid: HB 4231 — “Keep Roe Reversed Forever Act.” This bill spends 12 pages trying to make the absurd argument that “secular humanism” — or, based on its description, atheism with morals — is a religion and that allowing “convenience abortion” would violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Not only is “secular humanism” a religion by this bill’s standards, but it is a religion that promotes “licentiousness” and “promiscuity” (read: having sex — specifically outside of marriage).

And yet all of the principles the bill says are the state’s interest — and somehow not based in religion — are distinctly conservative Christian concepts, including that life begins at conception and that sex outside of marriage should be punished.

The irony is this bill insists a woman’s right to reproductive autonomy violates the separation of church and state when, in reality, this bill would be the violation.