Civil Fights is back for 2018! In this episode, Jamie sits down with ACLU-WV Policy Director Eli Baumwell, to talk about what we have ahead of us for 2018's WV Legislative session--some good, some bad, and some very, very ugly.
United States


00:00:00One Nation Under pad
00:00:15hello this is Jamie Lynn cross and welcome back to civil rights in the new year were going to try to be a little more regular with our episodes so please keep an eye out today I am here with the ACLU of West Virginia's policy director Eli bomb well he's going to give us a little preview of some of the things were going to see in West Virginia's legislative session this year which is something I'm always terrified for and I'm always amazing terrified excited it's a fun time. What do we have to look forward to in the next couple of months today so you West Virginia I expect we are introducing a number of pieces of legislation ourselves and we're also anticipating some major fights on a number of key issues that we keep close track of so what are some of the broad topics were going to see it before we get into the nitty-gritty
00:01:11what we're going to see a lot done on Criminal Justice Reform in West Virginia we've been dealing with a crisis and correction officers we don't have enough we got too high of a prison population that they're leaving their experience and it's causing problems so there's already a lot of effort underway to reform criminal justice we're going to be trying to spearhead some of those ourselves we're probably going to see attacks in both lbgt issues as well as a tax on Reproductive Rights and reproductive justice so we can expect some big fights there are always great public benefits of prickly digging into due process issues and privacy issues when I look at that are they going to try to drug test more people again
00:01:59yep it'll be interesting so let's dig in a little bit deeper I you mentioned LGBT rights and I know in the last couple years we've seen referent introduced and debated on but we've also seen non-discrimination protections be introduced by a bipartisan group of people what do you think is coming for us in 2018 as far as LGBT rights the rumor circulating the capital hallways of it brought up for potential pieces of legislation that we might see one thing we're looking at is what's called a password protection act this can be something it's very simple just a symbolic bill for for people who want to say that they're interested in religious freedom and it can really just say that pastors don't have it I'm forced to marry people that they don't agree with which is already the law but I was going to say Eli isn't that what the First Amendment dictates already
00:02:59unfortunately we have seen that another state that sometimes these get amended later on in the legislative process and be expanded to include people like state employees so it would be essentially what happened with Kim Davis the Kim Davis protection act exactly the things that we could be looking at is what we call in the polishing local Liberties act that's a sneaky way to undermine these non-discrimination ones that we've seen passing throughout the state by simply saying that mean as far as Camp passes when it says and if you wanted those that have been passed are void that sounds strikingly similar to the United States Supreme Court case from the 1990s out of Colorado
00:03:48well you're illegal drug or maybe you can help him out in the 90s Colorado pass the law that banned cities from being able to enact their own non-discrimination ordinance says this one up to the Supreme Court that's was well before Toma or bans on same-sex marriage were held unconstitutional the court in the nineties actually held that Colorado's law was unconstitutional so I would just like to remind anyone listening that that exist now so maybe looking at another rifra know personally and based on what I've been here and I think that's a little bit less likely only because that was such a fight before and wasn't able to pass before but we are gearing up to prepare to fight that battle again if we have to that was really fun and
00:04:45not at all terrible the last time around just as bad as the one we're probably and spacing is the bathroom Predator myth Bill sometimes called the transgender bathroom bill
00:04:59yep so if this is bad as that for people who aren't familiar this essentially says that people have to use the bathrooms that align with their giving sex at Birth cert like do I have to start carrying my birth certificate around with me or what's the deal this sounds familiar I didn't receive something similar come out of North Carolina recently we did and it caused them all whole world of headache and trouble and economic loss things that we are hoping that are West Virginia legislators are keeping in mind as they even potentially consider something like this
00:05:40not good not good. Fortunately gets even worse from there I was in our defensive work rights issues notably we're looking at Medicaid funding for abortion West Virginia is one of the few states that still allows Medicaid funding for abortion the state I wouldn't think that would be the truth
00:06:07what was Virginia have a Supreme Court case that examine this issue if its exact issue and the court said that the equal protection in the West Virginia Constitution are greater than the equal protection clause in the US Constitution and that if Medicaid can cover things like birth then it has to cover the essential the opposite end of that Spectrum which is abortion legal sense and toy listeners I was just kidding obviously knew that case it is pan of pinto vs. Women's Health Center of West Virginia case at good case law and unfortunately what we're seeing is because this is under the West Virginia constitution of what I think that's really good brought up is a constitutional amendment Amendment so they want to write discrimination against poor women into West Virginia state constitution is that what you're telling me
00:07:05but you know it it's almost as much fun for me when the West Virginia legislature talks about Reproductive Rights as it is when they talk about LGBT rights and I'm wondering if my body will be compared to any kitchen appliances this year
00:07:22never said this would be a really bad fight in unfortunately this is really being driven very cynically to this isn't even about abortion certainly doesn't do anything to change abortion other than make it harder for poor women to get that to do pass a constitutional amendment the state of West Virginia for those who aren't familiar you need 2/3 majority in both Chambers so 2/3 majority in both the Senate and House and that it has to pass in a popular referendum which means it would wind up on it as a ballot initiative and the most likely time that would be would be the November midterm elections a lot of Republicans are afraid that they're going to see some big hits this November based on some of the previous elections received throughout the country and they see this primarily as a way to drive up turn out for their base
00:08:11I'm going to get up on my soapbox for a minute here because generally abortion restrictions do affect poor women and working-class women more than rich women because if a woman who is well off needs or wants to have an abortion she can probably afford to travel for it whether that be out of state or out of the country and so these restrictions that we see at the state levels already overwhelmingly impact poor and working-class Families
00:08:45but in this situation they're actually specifically targeting for women and this would literally right discrimination against the poor women into the West Virginia Constitution which is just unconscionable and I would also like to remind everyone that before Roe versus Wade women died because they tried to have abortions women died because of portion was illegal making abortion illegal or hard access does not reduce the demand for abortion it just makes it unsafe and results and women dying so not only does this bill specifically Target for women it would likely result in death in the state of West Virginia
00:09:31interesting fact you know what the highest trending Google search in Texas was after the law was passed that
00:09:39that was overturned by home and tell whole Woman's Health biggest increase in searches at in Texas after that and so again this is something we're looking at now what well we are watching a partisan politics behind us I like to take him over to remind people that we are non-partisan organization however we find it offensive when people go after core constitutional rights purely for political game
00:10:09we're so those are some of the bad things that were looking at their number about things that we may see coming down the pike as far as bad bills go we may be looking at the drug testing for benefits that include either snap or and or Medicaid or this will essentially they say that people would have to take a drug test for SNAP now as we brought up when we fought the drug testing for welfare which is actually the TANF program temporary assistance for needy families program
00:10:47the incidence of drug use that they find when they do these sort of testing is miniscule and pretty much every state that ever tried this has spent more money drug testing people then they have not paying benefits at any individual people that the underlying assumption here is that we have deemed certain behaviors to be so bad that we don't want people to eat
00:11:12also just kind of not forward-thinking particularly when you consider the fact that you know at the state level we still criminalize marijuana or other states are legalizing it and legalization gets you know pulls huge both in West Virginia and Nationwide for people who are simply on waiting list trying to to get into treatment centers we have people who may recreational use drugs but hold down full-time jobs and be working professionals but these may also be jobs that I could just don't pay a whole lot and the idea that we would cut that off for a behavior that that is part of their own choices for their own bodily autonomy it shows a complete lack of compassion a complete lack of understanding into the factors that underlie drug abuse disorders
00:12:09is there anything else were looking out from the defensive here
00:12:13well how deep you want to go oh no we'll be keeping an eye on that we may see coming down the road down the road working continue to watch privatization of Education that's something we were watching very closely last year we know that that's a priority for this pretty good legislature tax credits they don't seem to be set on any particular model but all of them bring up constitutional concerns for a number of reasons I need a guns for example LGBT students or students with disabilities which ones are being the government and funding religious education secretary of education advocating for school
00:13:13to be able to discriminate against students with LGBT parents for a religious reasons of these essentially private schools better than getting State money and are not subject to all the protections that problem schools are over protesters Bill hopefully something that wouldn't move but gosh I hope no one is full of enough to put something like that into into the hopper again to see if I was to say broke again always fun. We might be able to as matter to we're watching that they hate crime to a Kill or in a lot of cases assault a police officer and usually these laws are defined so probably that a cell can include things like resisting arrest which for those of us who are
00:14:13call civil liberties know that virtually any situation which is anything even remotely resembling a struggle including someone who's in pain and just riding can be construed as assaulting an officer at this point right I mean I feel like I've seen that a lot and it often goes along with other big things like obstruction of justice or you know things like that shut up to Dan Harmon
00:14:40Yes we made it we may see a number of things like that will also probably be watching more criminals ation of drug activity even as we recognize is correctional officer prices there are still people who think we need to find more criminal penalties for drug users
00:14:59alright well that was depressing but is there anything good that we can look forward to again without a very aggressive Rock of agenda this session the biggest thing the one that we are most excited about is bail reform by Joanna a rubric a risk assessment based to determine whether or not someone has a risk of either fleeing not showing up to court or reoffending while the weather out awaiting trial and people who are low and even flow model risk of this are released on their own recognizance that means no cash bail
00:15:52that sounds awesome absolutely that's awesome it's more fair that's what they also sent me said to do is to keep make sure people show up to court and if they're already going to do it why did you have to pay money basic tenets of our entire criminal justice system that in the United States are innocent till proven guilty that's what I thought something very similar to that and I will still allow magistrate some flexibility they could set bail where there's more risk of other offense or we're not showing up but the laws going to make it very clear that they have to set the minimum amount necessary to assure appearance that means that someone who steals $50 of food should not be given a $20,000 cash bail recently happened in Huntington and it doesn't want me to go to the rubric can be appealed
00:16:52was that a folder process system here to protect people
00:16:55that sounds great do you think it has any chance of moving I do actually I know there's some leadership in the house who expressed some interest in this I know that this is an issue that other members are pretty clean the house have been looking at so I think the momentum there for that and I can do a lot of people who recognize that one of the huge ways that we can help with this correction officer prices it did not hold people in jail who haven't even been convicted of a crime or just waiting for the trial absolutely so this is going to hopefully help why night and again I think that we will see some movement there
00:17:25another big thing that were looking forward to is doing after the Civil asset forfeiture process explain civil asset forfeiture and what that means long story short is legal by police that's wonderful you are stopped by police and they suspected of a crime they can see any property that they think is related to Crime now that could be cash that you have on your body it could be cashed at someone else in a vehicle with you has on the person pretty backpacks could be a vehicle so we can be a whole wide array of property that the police can Men season hold on to all this
00:18:10process of doing the really interesting thing about this is that they don't ever have to even charge you with a crime you don't have to be convicted what they can take it because they suspected as being related to crime and then not charge you with a crime
00:18:23how is that allowed
00:18:26well Jamie you can probably get more, procedure in terms of how you go from an initial arrested down to an indictment but because police are the ones that for on the front lines the ones doing the steak and see that property
00:18:41and then then it down why I can be different if there's no reason to press charges but what are we looking at to try to reform that she working with with Americans for Prosperity network but they're also very big Advocate over for me the Civil asset forfeiture process and what we're proposing is legislation that would require a conviction before property could be forfeited and that's the other part of the Civil asset forfeiture processes that West please take it they can then file a motion in court to keep your property and it's under current law what happens is you that have to respond you got to get a lawyer and responding to try to go back and prove that you can get your property back understand way for a lot of people there probably was taken isn't worth the cost of a lawyer there are afraid to go into court so please don't upkeep no problem
00:19:41a portion of proceeds to under the law that we're proposing what would happen is you would have to have a conviction if there was any conviction in the property automatically goes back to the the property owner and if there's a conviction as part of that process after a person's been convicted they will make a fine as to whether or not I need to seize property can be forfeited corruption absolutely agree the perverse incentive for boys to go out looking for people that they can take cash from
00:20:14so that's that's something we're really excited about it again we think that we got some some possible to move it there I know it's something that a number of legislators have been looking at in the years past
00:20:24I'm excited to hear that we're at least looking at trying to change that another looking at is taking a step to address the drug house ordinances or a mandatory eviction ordinances to give everyone a quick rundown of essentially say if police get called to the same property usually did the trigger number of times it twice and it sent in a one year. Even if there's never an arrest if there's never any conviction or find it even there was coming on to you as long as there's a suspicion of criminal activity based on the these calls they can then Force landlord to evict a tenant to potentially screen future tenant and refuse to rent to people with certain criminal background even if they've already fully serve their sentences
00:21:14as well as a number of other things against both the tenants and landlords
00:21:19wow yeah and I know that we've seen those you know popping up kind of all around the state like as far away as the Eastern Panhandle and has close to us here in Charleston as South Charleston way so they've been cropping up all over the place and what we're looking at is a state law that says that Minnesota's cannot pass ordinances they're going to punish people for a genuine call for emergency services. It seems to me that we should never really be discouraging people from calling nine-one-one and an emergency if you like they can call police to get involved when they're an interview situation because they're afraid of losing their home when is a privacy built this follows after a legislative success in 2016 on the take control initiative which is really about Electronic Privacy
00:22:16so the bill was passed in 2016 prohibits employers from firing or punishing employees who don't turn over passwords to personal electronic devices that is owned by the employee not owned by the company order personal social media accounts for I get around cell phones around tablets their own electronic devices or their own social media accounts
00:22:49situation there are some exceptions dinner when schools are investigating a specific incident and they feel like they need access to to Samantha Nation to investigate a serious incident but again those are very narrowly drawn I go through number of process protections for the students are protected by the Fourth Amendment which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure but because of the unique situation particularly that Primary in elementary schools provide that line of his life is very different from just general 4th amendment search-and-seizure case law exactly
00:23:27and then there were some things that were we're going to be looking at supporting that can be introduced by us so just briefly run down that list sounds good we're probably going to see a Bilco death-with-dignity which is going to be about assisted suicide allowing people at the end of life to make the determination of what's best for them and conversely but using the same logic we might see a bill that is going to close some loopholes of doctors can currently use to contradict end-of-life orders for people who want to be kept alive even with Extreme Measures to pick up alive or not we're also likely to see a conversion therapy band that we think may may pass this year
00:24:21I want to be looking at an Equal Pay Act will have to see what happens there but this would be something to make sure that employers can pay men and women doing the same jobs or sensor the same jobs differently sounds like a great idea absolutely very good one now that's just a small sampling of the probably 500 or more bills it will be following the second session but those are some of the biggest things are agendas we had into it awesome love thanks for sitting down and talking to me about this today will you be at doing video updates like you gave us last year going to aim to have them out weekly probably Wednesday afternoons for those who followed West Virginia's legislative session before you know things can get a little bit hairy especially towards the end so we'll see we'll see how regular that schedule kids's as things progress and how long is West Virginia's legislative session we have a 60-day session which is a short. Of time
00:25:21the good weather for that Eli also has a Twitter that he uses add to keep people updated about our issues out what your Twitter handle see you ACLU WV thank you and I will try to get back to you with regular updates on session but also just keep an eye out for Eli's videos because he knows a lot more about what's going on behind the scenes and I do
00:26:04YouTube Brian Tisdale on Pat bill right for their audio editing and mastering the original music is by Titans of punk a music production company by Pat Gilroy and Jeremy.
00:26:26Please check out
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