The 2015 legislative session, for the most part is done. I want to thank every citizen who called, came to a hearing, talked to the Legislator, emailed, facebooked, held a sign, brought cookies, spoke to the press, or in any way helped out. I also want to extend a huge thanks to Conni Lewis, the Legislative coordinator and the lobby team of Rob Goodwin and Vickie Wolfe who stayed at it to the bitter end. Add to that the progressive lobbyists who were present in the face of a strong wind to blow us backwards, but who never failed to try to move WV forward. Everyone tried and all worked hard.
In the end, for the most part, the session was a huge disappointment. Thankfully there were some good wins. The Kanawha River that flows through Charleston can gain Category A status. The rights of landowners to say no to gas exploration by forced pooling was denied. The attempt to gain a process that would re-write the constitution got left behind. And the “right to work” bill was cut short. I’m sure there were others.
But for the most part, what we got in the 2015 session was just what ALEC and the Koch brothers bought. And it showed what is always true. Elections have consequences and when huge numbers of people set on the sidelines, democracy suffers.
So let’s get off the sidelines. Earlier today I attended a rally about the health impacts of MTR called “The People’s Foot”. The goal of that rally was to show that it was time for the people to put their foot down and demand no more MTR permits. To put your foot down, first you have to stand. So I’m asking today, what will you stand for? Clean water? Then come on. Clean air? Let’s stand together. Healthy communities? Let’s go for it. Good union jobs in the new energy economy? Sounds great, let’s get up and go for it. But make no mistake. If we are going to get these things, then we have to stop sitting on our butts and get up and move, not just during the legislative session, but all the time. We have to stop settling for what we think we can get, and start working for what we want. Together, even though sometimes we might not agree, we can accomplish what we want. We can remember the values of equality, fairness, and human rights that unite us as West Virginians. I know it’s hard, the battles are long and sometimes we just want to crawl into a cave and forget about it all. But I’m asking that you dust yourselves off, get back on your feet, put your eyes forward and stand with us for a better future. I’m asking that you stay the course, despite the odds, have courage and fight like hell. Not just for your future, but for all people. For people who wake up every morning feeling powerless, together we can have power, For those who have lost hope, together, we can create hope. Some days, it feels like we are isolated, but together we know we can make a difference. Together.
Step by Step
The longest March
Can be won, can be won,
By Union (unity) what we will,
Can be accomplished still,
Drops of water, turn a wheel
From the song Step by Step, a Union song from the Battle of Blair Mountain.