Gazette-Mail editorial: How is any of this helping West Virginians?

The Republican supermajority in the West Virginia Legislature is on a roll, to be sure.

They advanced a bill attempting to provide near-blanket immunity to anyone that might have a liability issue or a chance of being sued as a result of COVID-19. This was on the same day Gov. Jim Justice announced that the state had discovered 168 previously unreported deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill has been adjusted somewhat, but those who champion it as “pro-business” or “pro-health care provider” are sending an alarming signal about priorities to constituents.


The Legislature also is well on its way to further repealing regulations on storage tanks near water intakes. You know, the regulations enacted after a 2014 Elk River chemical spill that left 300,000 West Virginians without safe drinking water? The GOP has chipped away at those protections over time and, this time, will essentially gut them to the point that they’re almost meaningless.

There’s nothing more baked into West Virginia governing than putting industry profits over the health and safety of state residents, but this latest example is particularly egregious, if not too much too soon.

Of course, bills to destabilize public education, by providing tons of public money for charter schools, education savings accounts and homeschooling are merrily rolling along, as well as legislation to weaken teacher unions. Justice already has signed a bill that lowers teacher certification requirements.