West Virginia Senate misses deadline to pass teaching race bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Republican supermajority in the West Virginia legislature failed to pass a controversial bill restricting how race is taught in public schools because it missed the midnight deadline. in the final moments of the 2022 session, a state Senate spokesperson confirmed Sunday.

Lawmakers had spent weeks during the legislative session debate and advance bills similar to the “anti-racism law of 2022”. It was not immediately clear why Republicans waited until late Saturday to take the final vote. The law had passed the Senate and House overwhelmingly, and the late-night vote was simply to give the House version the green light.

“We voted, but it didn’t matter because it didn’t have a deadline,” Senate spokesman Jacque Bland told The Associated Press in an email Sunday morning. . She said the education bill had no way to become law.

A separate bill restricting access to abortion was passed minutes before midnight. It prohibits parents from seeking abortion care because they believe their child will be born with a disability. It provides exemptions in the event of a medical emergency or in cases where a fetus is “not medically viable”.

GOP lawmakers appeared unhurriedly as the clock ticked Saturday, spending about an hour passing resolutions honoring two incumbent senators.

Supporters of the 2022 Anti-Racism Act said it aims to prevent race-based discrimination in public K-12 schools, prohibiting teachers from telling students that a race “is inherently racist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously”.

The bill stated that students could not be taught that a person’s moral character is determined by his race, or that a person by virtue of his race “bears responsibility for actions committed by other members of the same breed”.

This would have created a mechanism for reporting complaints and allowing the legislature to collect data on the number of founded complaints each year. The law did not specify the penalty.

Lawmakers gathered at the snowy state Capitol on Saturday with dozens of bills to finalize. GOP House Speaker Roger Hanshaw arrived late for a debate on the state budget bill because it was delayed by a car accident on the roads, which were still being clearing.

The Disabilities and Abortion Bill was passed minutes before midnight. Final passage of the bill occurred hours after the House passed the bill after 90 minutes of debate.

“It’s about science and morality,” said Republican Del. Kayla Kessinger in favor of the bill. “It’s about ‘When does life begin?’ and whether or not it has value.

Democrats have voiced their opposition, with Congressman Evan Hansen saying the bill does nothing substantial to help people with disabilities and their families.

“This is an attempt to use people with disabilities as props for an anti-abortion agenda, something the disability community hasn’t asked for, as far as I know – and that’s just wrong,” Hansen said. “It creates government overreach in personal family medical decisions.”

A doctor who breaks the law could have their license to practice medicine suspended or revoked.

The bill also requires physicians to submit a report – with patient names omitted – to the state for each abortion they perform and whether “the presence or suspected presence of a human disability at to be born has been detected”.

The reports would include the date of the abortion and the method used, as well as confirmation that the doctor had asked the patient if he had chosen an abortion because the baby might have a disability. These reports must be submitted within 15 days of each abortion.

The bill is now moving through the office of Republican Gov. Jim Justice.

That bill wasn’t the only abortion-related legislation introduced by the state’s Republican supermajority in recent weeks, but lawmakers on Saturday refused to pass a second bill banning abortion after 15 weeks. , and it was not adopted.

Additionally, lawmakers voted 90-9 to send a $4.635 billion budget to the governor’s office after two hours of House discussion on Saturday.

The bill includes 5% pay increases for state employees and teachers, with an additional increase for state troopers. The budget does not include the 10% personal income tax cut passed by the House last month. The House and Senate could not agree on how to incorporate the cuts into the bill.

Lawmakers also promised social workers in the state’s foster care system would see a 15% pay raise. After a bill providing for the raises was essentially gutted, they advised the Department of Health and Human Resources to provide the raises by eliminating vacant posts instead.

Additionally, lawmakers passed a bill decriminalizing fentanyl test strips, which can signal the presence of synthetic opioids in illicit drugs.

Other bills have repealed the state soda tax and made it illegal to require COVID-19 vaccination cards to enter state agencies or public colleges and universities.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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