AFL-CIO chapter urges more access to legislative proceedings

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state AFLI-CIO chapter is urging Gov. Jim Justice and state legislative leaders to allow more access to the state Capitol, citing concerns about a lack of transparency during this year’s legislative session.

Admission to the legislative building is limited because of the coronavirus pandemic. The union said the Legislature “continues to operate under a cloak of darkness” by limiting what people can witness legislative activities in person; members of the public can only enter the building if invited to participate in a hearing. While the Legislature provides video and audio streaming, it is limited.

Josh Sword (File)

“As representatives of working families throughout West Virginia, the West Virginia AFL-CIO and its affiliates cannot sit idly by and let the legislative majority trample the rights of West Virginia citizens,” union president Josh Sword said. “We understand the critical need to observe social distancing requirements in order to keep everyone safe, but the legislative majority is using these personal contact limits to shut down interaction with the public altogether.”

The union sent a letter Thursday to Justice, Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, and House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, about the matter.

“While this pandemic poses serious challenges, we know there are venues at the Capitol that would allow in-person meetings with social distancing,” Sword said. “On top of that, we have highly skilled, licensed electricians and communications technicians among our membership who would be happy to assist with the installation of needed equipment to allow for video streaming and online participation.”

Thursday marked the 16th day of the 60-day session.

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