Members in the House voted on a bill Thursday that would terminate the West Virginia Women’s Commission and put roughly $150,000 back into the general revenue budget.
The West Virginia Women’s Commission was created by the state Legislature in 1977. It’s a small, bi-partisan program under the state Department of Health and Human Resources that advocates, educates, and promotes women’s issues.
The Commission also advocates at the legislature for the passage of certain bills, and encourages women to run for political offices by holding recruiting and training events.
House Bill 2646 would eliminate the agency, which several Republican women in the House say would help the state budget. Those women also argue the services provided by the commission are duplicative.
Delegate Kayla Kessinger, a Republican from Fayette County, is the bill’s lead sponsor. She argues the commission is inefficient and not something women need to have a voice.
"To assert that women need a commission to run for office or to be successful undermines women and does nothing to empower us as a demographic in our nation and in our state,” Kessinger said.
Delegate Linda Longstreth of Marion County is one of two Democratic women in the House. She opposed the bill. Longstreth says the bill cuts an important asset.
"You know, we’re 51 percent in this state. I think we are the majority. We may not look like the majority in this House, but we’re still the majority in this state,” Longstreth said.
After more than an hour of debate, the bill passed 58 to 41 and goes to the Senate for consideration.