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Legislature was good to special interests, disappointing to others

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We said it last week, but it certainly bears repeating — the 2013 West Virginia legislative session was more of the same. The last night of the session typified what's wrong with our legislative process. Instead of getting down to business and hammering out a compromise, we lost out on legislation that would have benefited this state. Why? Because no one was willing to come to a consensus. Political games trumped good governance.

A little more than 60 days ago, we had cause for optimism. New ideas and new faces were going to fight for change and do what was necessary to open this state up for prosperity. Having too much faith in politicians is never a good thing, but this year was supposed to be different. Clearly that was not the case. Instead of dynamism, energy and an eye toward the future, we got the tired, failed tactics of the past.

It would simply be pathetic if it weren't so infuriating, because this is what our elected leaders do instead of governing. We got a modicum of much-need education reform and some hope for a strained and overcrowded correctional system, but what else? Can we point to a single piece of legislation that helps to modernize our tax code or ensure fairness and equality in our judicial system? Can executives look at our state and see stability and common sense? The answer to these questions is a resounding no.

We know who did score high – the special interests. The teachers' unions got what they wanted out of the education reform bill by weakening any attempts to put skill and job dedication on equal footing with seniority when it comes to hiring. The National Rifle Association also did pretty well, having language inserted into legislation that will force cities across the state to repeal laws that directly affect public safety.

What about the rest of us, though? Again, we looked to this session as a turning point. This was going to be the year the good ol' boys got challenged by those truly fighting for the people. This was going to be year the tide started to turn and West Virginia assumed its place among the most competitive, enterprising places in the nation. 

Nothing happens overnight, and one event certainly was not going to change everything, but this was the year we thought we could finally see positive change. Sadly, all we got was the status quo.