As the state legislature fumbles its way through another session, absentee governor Jim Justice is busy coaching girls’ basketball and calling opposing teams “thugs.” Welcome to another year of time and opportunity being frittered away in West Virginia’s halls of government.
The leaders of the Mountain State have indeed made national headlines recently; unfortunately the stories are anything but positive and only reinforce the negative perception so many people have of West Virginia.
We have not only the governor of the state referring to a racially integrated girls’ basketball team as thugs, we also have a supposedly drunken Republican delegate threatening to kick the ass of another Republican delegate (who is legally blind) in the parking lot of the Capitol Building. And then there was the former Republican delegate and current candidate for governor who used his floor privileges to enter the House while it was in session — for the purpose of cussing out the blind delegate who had been threatened with the ass-kicking.
I guess it’s incorrect to imply that legislators have done absolutely nothing. After all, they did pass a resolution offering sanctuary to conservative Virginia counties upset over Democrats assuming control of the Commonwealth in the last state elections.
Another proposal would make civil disobedience in protest of a natural gas pipeline a felony. Yet another bill would grant a giant tax break to the wealthy and huge corporations. We’re told the tax break will spark more business growth in the state… you know, the same line we were fed the last two times taxes were cut for big business. It didn’t happen then, it won’t happen now.
There are House and Senate versions of a bill that would allow the Bible to be taught as en elective in public schools, despite the legal ramifications and near-certainty of being tied up in the courts.
Then there’s the bill that allows a kid who answers a science test question by saying the world is 10,000 years old to pass the test, if that’s his religious belief. Yes, you read that correctly.
If you’re planning to get your eyeball tattooed, you had better hurry, because there’s also a bill under consideration that would outlaw eyeball tattooing.
More time and taxpayer money was wasted on a “born alive” abortion bill, which is essentially meaningless since existing laws already protect newborns and the state bans abortions after 20 weeks.
In the meantime, there are towns in the state whose water is unfit to drink. Some of them have been under a boil water advisory for ten years or more. West Virginia still has one of the highest rates of drug overdose rates in the country. The state’s population continues to dwindle as people move away in search of better jobs and quality of life. The people who remain are overall poorer, sicker and more dependent on government assistance than those in other states. The economy is still tethered largely to the coal industry, which is in terminal decline.
As long as West Virginians keep electing an inept legislature and propping up a governor who spends more time on basketball than governing, why on earth should they expect things to improve?