“I wonder what’s going on with the water,” the Rude Pundit thought. So he clicked on over to the Charleston Gazette to see if schoolchildren could use water fountains without getting sick, which should probably be a bare minimum goal in the greatest country with the greatest school system with the greatest children on Earth. What he ended up seeing on the website’s front page was a parade of legislative grotesqueries that would make the population of a rational nation burn shit down and chase the fuckers responsible into the decimated mountains around the capitol.
For instance, there was a bill that said, more or less, “Hey, meth is a big fuckin’ problem here. The number of meth labs has doubled in the past year because in West Virginia, steady income is hard to come by but meth is really easy. So why not require a prescription for pseudo-ephedrine, one of the main ingredients in meth?” A House panel heard from law enforcement officials who said, “Yeah, you make it prescription only and you get rid of meth labs.” So what came out of that panel? A bill to lower the amount of Sudafed you can buy in a year but without a prescription. Why? Because the fuckers in the drug industry had a problem with the bill because profit.
Over in the Senate, the Health and Human Resources Committee was busy. No, the senators weren’t doing anything to help the actual people of their state. But they totally have the backs of the fetuses. Yeah, the committee said it was time for West Virginia to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, not the 24 weeks that some senators wanted. This was the kinder, gentler version of the House bill. The House made it a felony for doctors who perform abortions after 20 weeks. The Senate said it should just be a misdemeanor. The House banned all late-term abortions except for cases where carrying a pregnancy to term would cause permanent damage or death to the woman. The Senate added that it would be cool to abort if the fetus wasn’t viable. See? Compassion. A woman isn’t forced to carry around a fetus that’s sure to die quickly and horribly.
As for the water, we head back to the House, to the Finance Committee, which is sending its version of a bill to help save West Virginia’s water to the floor for a vote. The committee removed a provision requiring a study of the long-term effects of the January spill in the Elk River. It removed a provision requiring an early warning system for chemical spills on the Elk River. It “deleted a requirement for tougher permitting of water pollution sources near drinking water supplies.” It allows the state to decide what information to keep secret from the public about the chemicals that are spilled under the guise of “homeland security.” But at least it left out exemptions for some industries that were included in the Senate bill.
That’s one day’s worth of news out of West Virginia’s legislature. That’s three bills that will do harm to the people of the state. And let’s be clear: this is the doing of Democrats and Republicans. This is what we’ve come to in our legislative process: cowering before big money and the moral police. How much degradation can the poverty-fucked people of West Virginia take? Well, shit, guess we’ll see when that Marcellus Shale gas money starts to flow and the top-removed mountains are fracked into oblivion.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on March 5, 2014, on The Rude Pundit, a website featuring commentary by Lee Papa. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Papa.