Democrats push for more transparency in legislative session

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — This West Virginia legislative session is unlike any other due to the pandemic, but some members of the house are pushing for more transparency.

The West Virginia Democratic Caucus sent a letter to the Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw, (R) Clay, asking for more transparency.

Many argue the COVID-19 precautions are making it hard for the public to keep up.

It may only be just the beginning of the West Virginia legislative session, but delegate Kayla Young, (D) Kanawha, says it’s moving fast.

“We’ve run through so many bills already this session within the first 10 days of the session and it’s weird with nobody in the Capitol, we’re used to so many people,” she said.

Because of COVID-19, the public isn’t allowed into the building.

“They’re running a very aggressive agenda where there are a lot of bills that are going to affect the lives of many West Virginians, but there have been no public hearings and the media is often shut out of committee rooms,” said Del. Mike Pushkin, (D) Kanawha, about the Republican leadership.

Del. Pushkin and Del. Young are among those who signed a letter to Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw that in part reads: “In order to promote transparency and openness in the legislative process, we would encourage you to video ALL committee hearings especially those in the House Chamber where there is already video capability.”

Currently, there is only an audio stream available to the public from one of the chambers.

“While it’s understandable that we take every precaution due to COVID, a lot of their own members aren’t even wearing masks,” said Del. Pushkin.

“While it’s understandable that we take every precaution due to COVID, a lot of their own members aren’t even wearing masks”

Del. Mike Pushkin

Last session, Del. Young remembers the galleries filled with teachers during the teacher strikes and bills on teachers’ pay and charter schools.

“And this year we kind of passed those bills straight on through and the galleries were empty, so I think people are noticing big things are happening and it’s kind of just business as usual, moving along, and nobody really has a say in it…so, it’s different,” she said.

Calls to Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw by 13 News were not returned Sunday.

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