CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has caused dramatic changes in the way Americans live, work and socialize.
Legislative Democrats think the Republican majority is using the pandemic to rush bills into law without proper review.
State Senator Richard Lindsay (D- Kanawha) and Delegate Lisa Zukoff (D-Marshall) addressed some of those concerns in a Monday morning press conference at the capitol.
Zukoff noted the relative lack of committee hearings on bills in the House. That has caused a lack of public review and input, she said.
Both legislators pointed out this year’s prevailing practice that bills are referenced to just one committee. Past practice, even since the GOP took control five years ago, has been to double- and even triple-reference all significant bills, Lindsay said.
“That provided opportunity for legislators and the public to thoroughly review all legislation before it’s passed and goes into law, not after,” he said.
The legislators said the entire “lockdown” of the capitol building discourages public participation.
At present, a member of the public must enter the building from single entrances on the east or west side.
Once inside, the visitor is greeted by a capitol police officer. That officer will ask a series of questions and must identify who they plan to be seeing in the capitol.
That entire process destroys the traditional right to move freely among the government offices and have access to legislators and legislative sessions, they said.
Lindsay said the absence of public input and transparency led to approval of one bill that eliminated the Freedom of Information process for some parts of it.
That would never have happened under the old system of referring bills to two committees and “allowing proper public scrutiny” he said.
The pair asked Republican leadership to consider taking steps to return to the previous system.