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Midnight hits ‘The Anti-Racism Act,’ which didn’t make passage in time

About a minute before midnight on the final day of the regular legislative session, state Senate leaders pushed to pass “The Anti-Racism Act”

The bill rumbled through the Legislature and, at the very end, didn’t make it through. Senators voted on the bill right at the midnight deadline on Day 60 of the regular legislative session.

In the moment, it appeared the controversial bill had passed at the wire.

But a little more than an hour later, Senate staff confirmed that the vote was just slightly too late to count.

Senate Bill 498, which forbids talking about race in certain ways in classroom settings, had already passed both the Senate and the House of Delegates, but in different versions.

The Senate passed its version March 2. The House passed its on Friday evening after two hours of debate. So the Senate had all day Saturday to concur, reject the changes or amend the bill again.

Senators worked at a steady pace all day Saturday and had taken some time in the late evening to recognize departing members. In the hour between 11 and midnight, senators picked up the pace to a rapid clip.

With almost no time left, Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo introduced the bill for Senate action.

“I move the Senate concur to House changes on Senate Bill 498,” said Takubo, R-Kanawha. He went on to explain that delegates had removed the elements of sex and ethnicity, among other changes, from the bill senators first passed. The House version also removed higher education from being affected.

“While having these two elements in the bill would have been better, concurring is better than losing the bill.”

Senate Finance Chairman Eric Tarr quickly jumped in. “I move the previous question,” he said, meaning debate would end before it could get started.

Senators then voted to pass the bill as amended 22-10.

Just seconds after that, senators resolved “sine die” to end the regular legislative session.

“I declare the Legislature adjourned,” Blair said. “Sine die.”

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