2023 Legislature Session starts January 12th

It’s January 11th, and Governor Jim Justice is going to give his State of the State address tonight at 7pm. What’s in it is anybody (but Justice’s) guess. There’s a rumor, though, that he’s once again going to try to get a tax cut passed. Whether or not that comes to fruition affects each and every tax payer in this state. Sit up and pay attention!

Ah…but how? First off, here‘s a handy guide to the session, including a who’s who (with pictures!), map of where things are happening, and who is on what committee. In fact, you can find the planned calendars for the House and Senate here (as well as the link to the above guide).

A way to keep track of what’s going on is through WV Public Radio’s show, “The Legislature Today”, which airs weeknights at 6pm. 88.9 and 89.5 are two frequencies that work pretty well for this area. WV Public Radio has lots of repeaters, though, so if neither of those work, try moving up or down the dial a bit.

Another way to keep track is to sign up for the ’60 Days with Giles Snyder and Dave Mistich’ newsletter on substack. It’s free, though they are asking for donations for ‘coffee’.

Mountainstate Spotlight is also doing a series on the legislative session called, “Statehouse Spotlight”. Sign up here.

There’s also a blog on the WV Legislature!

Now, even though the voting is over, the 2023 legislative session isn’t necessarily a spectator sport. You can actually (still) get involved. According to Ian Karbal (in his newsletter “Power and Possums”), here’s a way to have some influence:

Getting your voice heard

In spite of how opaque the process can be, every day West Virginians can exercise some influence over the rule-making process. Before each meeting of the Rule-Making Review Committee, an agenda will be posted to the Legislature’s website detailing exactly which rules they plan to discuss. The title of the rule will likely be vague, but next to it will be a code.

You can search by name or code on the secretary of state’s website, and it will give you the full text and which agency is responsible for it. Anyone can contact that agency and ask them how they handle public comments (it varies a bit). And by law, that agency will have to hand those comments to lawmakers on the Rule-Making Review committee. 

And, for people who really want to stay on top of rule-making, you can email the committee staffer listed on the committee’s website, and ask to be placed on their mailing list where they’ll keep you up to date on what rules the committee will consider, including hyperlinks so you don’t have to do so much searching. This is open to the public.

While it may not seem like much, these comments do impact lawmakers’ thinking, especially when they come in numbers.

Ian Kabal

Who knows… Maybe if you get incensed enough about what’s going on in the legislature, now controlled completely by Republicans (and not even Governor Justice can stop them if they’re really intent on getting something passed!), you’ll be motivated enough to get involved. There’s a place for you, whether it’s volunteering, donating, making your voice heard, or running as a candidate. It’s not too early to think about 2024, either. This state is running off the rails. If things are to change, it’s us ordinary citizens that need to make it happen.

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