Republicans gain power yet demonstrate known failures

The dramatic election victories of Republican candidates in 2014, which gave them control of the West Virginia Legislature and the first opportunity in a lifetime to show their stuff, resulted in a predictable disappointment with half-measures and compromises as the order of the day. This was no surprise for members of the Constitution Party. Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael set the tone by declaring, “We are running an economic agenda.”

The Constitutional Carry bill, S.B. 347, would have allowed gun owners to carry a concealed firearm without having to ask their local sheriff for a permit and paying a “coat tax” fee. While the bill easily passed the Legislature, two GOP House leaders opposed the bill. At the public hearing, held during a snowy day during a declared state of emergency, a cadre of lawless lawmen traveled from around the State to oppose the 2nd Amendment rights of West Virginians. In uniform and armed, they were in violation of Chapter 61, Article 7, Section 11a (g) of the W.Va. Code carrying weapons on Statehouse property – a misdemeanor. No arrests were made however but the Capitol Police were keeping a close eye on supporters of the bill as we entered the House chamber for the hearing. After the hearing, Republican Judiciary Chair John Shott lectured those in the audience that even though supporters had asked for no amendments, amendments were inevitable. Later, House Majority Whip Daryl Cowles, another Republican opponent, offered a killer amendment which failed. Under Mr. Carmichael’s “economic agenda,” this bill was passed late enough into the session to allow the Governor to veto it without fear of any legislative time left for an override.

Also under this same agenda, there was no room for the repeal of Common Core standards which were shoved down the throats of West Virginians by the unelected State Board of Education. The House passed the bill 75-19, but it was gutted in the Senate on an unrecorded 18-16 floor vote and replaced with a bill that calls for a study. State Board of Education Superintendent Michael Martirano threatened the Legislature with a preposterous $128 million cost to repeal the standards, but when the Board passed Common Core several years ago, costs were not an impediment. According to an article in, six Senate Republicans contributed to the defeat.

And the “economic agenda” struck us again when the practice of forced vaccination of school students was allowed to continue. Health-Nazis succeeded in gutting the Medical and Religious Exemption bill for vaccinations (S.B. 286) in the Senate Health and Human Resources committee. The religious exemption was removed and a provision that is supposed to prevent delays in the approval of medical exemptions retained. GOP Senators Mike Hall, Mike Maynard, and Chris Walters chickened out and dropped their sponsorship of the bill shortly after introduction while the Health-Nazis were having a fit over vaccination exemptions during an out-of-state measles outbreak. Had enough, yet?

On a positive note, the session marked the rise of the Liberty Caucus, a group of delegates who are committed to limited government and Constitutional fidelity Their influence was felt in the defeat of the Forced Pooling bill which was supported by almost all of the rest of the Republicans and so we commend these statesmen for their courage to put principle over politics—the motto of our Party.