BACK PEW–The Twilight Zone

Column by Stephen Baldwin,

One time during debate on the Senate floor, I referred to the legislative session as “the twilight zone.” Because nothing makes sense there. This week’s news proves the point. 

EQUAL DOES NOT MEAN EQUAL. The House of Delegates passed a “women’s bill of rights” that doesn’t appear to secure women any additional rights. It actually includes a definition that says “equal” does mean “identical” or “same.” So it’s a women’s bill of rights without rights that says the sexes are not equal. Twilight zone. 

THE BOOK BAN. The House passed the book ban this week, allowing citizens to sue local librarians over material in books they deem as obscene. That’s right, our leaders are making local librarians political targets and subjecting them to a penalty of up to $25,000. To top it off, they actually passed a motion that delegates couldn’t call it a “book ban” during debate. Twilight zone. 

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS. While the legislature effectively banned abortions two years ago, the Senate passed another abortion restriction this week. Yes, a further restriction on something that’s already banned. Twilight zone. 

ARMING TEACHERS. The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill allowing armed teachers. They don’t trust teachers to pick out their own books or curriculum, but they entrust them with a deadly weapon when they are also supposed to act as counselors, nurses, coaches, parents, educators, social workers, and teachers for a classroom full of kids. Twilight zone. 

TAKING FOOD OFF THE TABLE. The Senate Workforce passed further restrictions on food stamps. Popular idea? Probably. But here’s the thing, witnesses testified that it may cost more to implement than it would save. Twilight zone. 

REMOVING PRESIDENT BIDEN FROM THE BALLOT. A resolution in the Senate seeks to remove President Biden from the ballot in West Virginia, saying he is engaging in “insurrection”, by tying the immigration crisis to the 14th Amendment. The same people who decry attempts to remove former-President Trump from the ballot by invoking the 14th Amendment want to do the exact same thing to their political opponent. Twilight zone.

WHAT DO ALL THESE THINGS HAVE IN COMMON? Besides being straight out of the twilight zone, where down is up and up and down, none of them are actually about solving a problem; they are all about getting our current politicians reelected.  

THEY POLL EVERYTHING. Our leaders in Charleston constantly poll the issues people care about, and then they create bills to perpetuate the idea that they’re dealing with those issues. 

DON’T FORGET THE LOBBYISTS. The lobbyists play a role as well. They need to pass a bill every year or two that they can take to their supporters as job security. Whether that bill does what it purports to is irrelevant, because they create the illusion that it does, backed by the politicians who want to reflect that same illusion for their own reelection. 

BAD FOR BUSINESS. When the session began, President Blair and Speaker Hanshaw talked to the press about how this session would be focused on making West Virginia more attractive for business. Taking us back to the twilight zone time and time again is bad for business prospects in the state. They don’t like to deal with the distractions. They want a place with ready infrastructure and a good quality of life for their employees. It’s not rocket science. 

Although, we may need a rocket scientist or two pretty soon to guide us back to reality  from the twilight zone.  

That’s the view from the back pew. May God bless each and every one of you! 

Stephen Baldwin is a Presbyterian minister and the former Senate Minority Leader from Greenbrier County. He is the publisher of The Real WV.

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