Randy Yohe Published

W.Va. Council Of Churches Asks Lawmakers To Govern With Compassion


West Virginia’s legislature often relies on ideology and economy to shape public policy. But there’s a mountain state group that annually calls for lawmakers to also focus on the common good and general welfare.

Rev. Brad Davis with the West Virginia Council of Churches opened this year’s “Compassion Calls Us” event at the state capitol by explaining the group’s motive for offering “the common good” approach to legislating public policy issues.

“We want to provide a Christian witness on public issues and concerns that venture into the public arena,” Davis said.

One such piece of legislation is House Bill 2698, known as the “Crown Act.” If passed, the bill would make it illegal to discriminate based on hair texture or style. The bill has been introduced into the legislature but has never passed.

Katonya Hart with the Charleston branch of the NAACP supported the bill.

“We need to change our morality in regards to villainizing African Americans from the top of their heads to the soles of their feet,” Hart said.

House Bill 4354, the Medicaid buy-in act, is another piece of legislation the group brought up. Lida Shepherd, with the American Friends Service Committee, said the bill offers a state subsidy for the thousands on Medicaid whose income happens to rise above the threshold for cutting off affordable insurance eligibility.

“Those premiums would likely cancel out any higher earnings they receive,” Shepherd said.

The West Virginia Environmental Council’s Hannah King also voiced concerns over proposals she said makes the state’s Water Quality Standard Rules become less stringent when it comes to the toxin limits regarding West Virginia’s drinking water.

“Some of the toxins contain cancer causing carcinogens,” King said. “With the high cancer rates in our state, there is no room to be lifting any water quality standards.”