Checking my Mountain Torch, the monthly ACLU newsletter for WV, it seems we’ve had a number of successes and some setbacks. From the 2011 Legislative Recap:
SB 407/408 – Creating the West Virginia Insurance Exchange. As mandated by federal health care reform, each state has the opportunity to create a state – run insurance plan by 2014. In the event a state does not develop its own plan, the federal government will operate the plan. West Virginia joins Utah and Massachusetts as one of the first states to create a state plan. As expected a significant effort to derail the plan was mounted, including a concerted effort to include in the insurance exchange draconian anti-choice language. Thanks to efforts by West Virginia Free, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU of WV, no anti-choice amendments were added to this bill.
SB 193 – Creating a registry for police officers who have been removed from office for misconduct and creating a mechanism for revoking the certification of law enforcement officers in certain circumstances. Thanks in part to the Gary Harki series in The Charleston Gazette calling attention to this issue, the ACLU earned a major victory in the passage of this important legislation.
The ACLU-WV was able to defeat HB 3044 permitting local law enforcement to seize property if it is suspected to be the instrument of a crime of fraud. The bill would have placed the burden of proof upon innocent defendants to obtain possession of their seized property and would have permitted local law enforcement officers to keep a portion of the proceeds of the liquidated property.
The ACLU-WV also defeated SB 67 requiring a DNA sample from persons arrested – not convicted – of certain felony offenses.
HB 3144 – Creating a misdemeanor offense for protesting at a funeral or memorial service. The House version that ultimately passed requires protests be conducted at least 500 feet away from the funeral. Senate amendments to the bill designed to comply with time, place, manner restrictions outlined in Snyder v. Phelps, which held that such protests are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, were rejected by the House. Ironically, the House of Delegates passed their version of the bill – the version that ultimately became law — on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court released its opinion in Snyder. The ACLU has contacted the Governor’s counsel to urge a veto of this bill.
SB 186 – Permitting the State Police to obtain internet records as well as bank and credit card information for someone who is suspected – not charged – of committing certain sexual offenses against minors using an “administrative subpoena.” Upon request by the State Police and as authorized by a magistrate, family court judge, or circuit court judge under a “reasonable suspicion” standard of review, an internet service provider must release certain records to the State Police. Furthermore, the internet service provider is prohibited from informing its suspected customer about the release of this information to the State Police. While the ACLU fought unsuccessfully to defeat the bill, it was able to modify the introduced legislation authorizing a prosecuting attorney to issue a subpoena to require authorization from a judicial officer to issue a subpoena. ACLU-WV has contacted the Governor’s counsel to urge a veto of this bill.
SB 338 – Opting out of the federal prohibition from providing SNAP (food stamp) and TANF benefits to former drug felons. The bill passed the Senate quickly with strong floor speeches on behalf of the bill, but failed to advance in the House despite numerous conferences with the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, where the bill was referenced. Subsequent conversations with members of the House leadership and Committee staff revealed the Speaker of the House believed the bill was too controversial and was unwilling to move the bill. The Senate has passed this bill two consecutive sessions.
SB 522 – A bill permitting an exemption to mandated vaccines for children as a condition of school enrollment was introduced in the Senate, but failed to advance.
HB 2161 – Creating the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs. The bill passed quickly through the House, but languished in the Senate until the final few days of the session when the Senate Finance Committee stripped the bill of any funding necessary to create and sustain the office. The bill failed on the final day of the session when the House refused to accept the Senate’s version, and also refused to appoint a conference committee to discuss a solution.
For the life of me, I can not figure out what starving drug felons will accomplish or why that bill ever passed at the federal level. It’s almost like some people don’t understand why people do drugs. Granted, addiction is a complicated issue, but one salient fact about drug use is that often, people use drugs because they… make you feel good. It’s true! So if you live in a really shitty situation with no future prospects and are, I don’t know, starving, a drug high sounds like a pretty solid option to lighten up your day. In fact, if your options are shitty life on one hand, and shitty life with an occasional high, using drugs seems to me to be the logical choice.
Probably, this was one of the concessions Democrats had to give up to get the bill passed in the first place. Democrats probably wanted to give these benefits to hungry people, Republicans said “Wait, this costs too much,” so someone, probably a blue dog or a moderate Republican, said “What if we all agree to get our five minutes of hate on drug felons? Then we can pretend to actually save money, and everyone hates druggies.” And then the bill passed and David Broder praised it as a model of bipartisanship.
That’s all just a guess. If anyone actually knows, I’d like to hear how it went down.
Just Some Fuckhead
When Facebook statuses become laws..
It’s a variant of the strapping young buck buying T-bones. Mix some pure conservative symbolism, a measure of ‘tough on crime’ and a helping of ‘welfare reform’ and, voila, you’ve complicated the delivery of public assistance and pretended to fight drug abuse in the most ineffective, inefficient manner possible. Catnip for politicians.
So we starve the user, and possibly his/her family, to make sure the pittance they receive is used for acceptable purposes. God forbid we fund drug rehabilitation services, cuz that stuff’s expensive.
And then the bill passed and David Broder praised it as a model of bipartisanship.
This is probably accurate, as no one was really sure if David Broder was alive at some point.
So on HB 3144 – which I guess is more-or-less an “anti-Fred Phelps” bill: The House rejected modifications on a bill that would bring it in line with (even a new) SCOTUS decision? Why? Or is that a meaningless question with regard to Legislatures (As usual)?
if they want to see a more salient example of addiction – they should checkout the show “Hoarders” on Netflix. Jeezus, some people are really sick. Hoarding food, spending money willy nilly.. Gracious..
R.I.P., Gerard Smith, bassist of TV on the Radio. Died earlier today of lung cancer, at age 34.
I’ve been a member of the ACLU since high school. Accomplishments like those you listed are why.
Drug felons who are starving usually commit more crime so consider it a “police full employment bill” with the side benefit of helping the insurance industry justify raising small business and home owners rates. This will keep the courts busy, the jails full and the guard’s union will benefit, too, also.
If someone has paid their debt to society, they can’t be punished again without being convicted of another crime. It is punishment to prevent people from having enough food.
In the 1800’s some took opiates on a daily basis. It’s how they got through the day.
Some things never change.
As I recall, we had a saying back in those lean college days – it’s easier to get through a time with pot and no money than a time with money and no pot.
I am not sure how much food had to do with it (we were well fed), but the general idea, that an escape/release of some of the burdens of life make hard times easier than okay times with no release, I still find quite true, although the outlet may have changed.