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For the 60 days of the regular legislative session, organizations from around the state set up displays in the Capitol Rotunda to advocate for their individual causes.
On Monday, West Virginia’s Girl Scouts brought much more than those tasty cookies to the legislature.
The girls from the Black Diamond Council hail from 48 West Virginia counties and are part of a four-state group of Girl Scout troops.
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouting strives to teach its young members leadership skills and being productive citizens with a passion for ingenuity — both outdoors and indoors.
Black Diamond Council CEO Beth Casey said the girls come to the capitol for two reasons: to see the legislature in action, and let the legislators see what they can accomplish.
“Part of being a Girl Scout is learning to advocate for yourself and using your voice to share your needs,” Casey said. “The second thing is for the legislators to see the amazing things that our Girl Scouts have done. They’ve showcased some of the trips, they’ve been on things like robotic competitions and are demonstrating a lot of their community service projects.”
Casey said in 2023, Girl Scouts are still selling cookies, teaching leadership skills and striving to make the world a better place.
The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia was also at the capitol Tuesday to lobby lawmakers and educate the public on civil rights.
The ACLU’s Lobby Day brought advocates for criminal justice reform, LGBTQ rights and faith organizing to the heart of the state’s lawmaking process.
Eli Baumwell is the interim executive director of ACLU West Virginia. He said it’s important for his staff to make contact with legislators but also to educate and engage the public on their own civil rights and liberties.
“Because we cover such a large range of issues, sometimes they get lost in the day to day new shuffle,” he said. “But these are all really important issues. They affect basic civil rights and basic civil liberties, and we think it’s very important that the public is educated about them.”
Baumwell said the ACLU would like to see voting rights expanded to people on probation and parole this session, and will be following issues of capital punishment closely.
“The ACLU has a strong opposition to the death penalty,” he said. “That would be a horrible step backwards for the state. So we’re doing everything in our power to make sure that people understand the human cost and the fiscal cost of a policy like that.”