This wraps up our interviews with the “Fab Five” Democrats representing Mon County in the West Virginia House of Delegates to get their perspective on the recent legislative session.
Contending with roads, education, women’s health, energy, and more, our delegates worked hard for us and for the entire state.
Of course, this update represents only a small part of what happened. To find out the final status of particular bills, go to Bill Status tracker on the legislature’s website. Or contact your legislators; they’ll be glad to hear from you!
Delegate Danielle Walker
Danielle Walker made a name for herself in her first session, speaking out on the needs of low-income and marginalized groups; and working with her fellow delegates for improvements to schools, roads, and more.
One of her takeaways from the session is that people can make a difference, just by showing up in Charleston or wherever decisions are made.
“SB451 would have hurt our public schools, but teachers and employees rallied in the Capitol and defeated it,” she said. “HB2519 would have allowed guns on campus, but professors and students drove to Charleston and stopped it. Presence is power.”
Walker spoke out for LGBTQ+ rights after a Republican delegate made offensive remarks that struck a little too close to home. The ugly incident sparked one of her favorite moments from the session, though, when Delegate Evan Hansen stood up for her and spoke against prejudice and discrimination.
“I call Evan ‘my shield,’ she said. “He used his privilege to speak out. That built my confidence to keep speaking the truth. I’ll never forget him for that.”
Walker said the support of all the Mon County delegates was helpful throughout the session. “We worked hard together to try and make a difference. We worked especially hard on the roads bills, and it was heartbreaking when they were vetoed. We have so much work ahead of us, but I’m ready for it.”
Delegate John Williams
Third-term delegate John Williams was appointed to the Finance Committee this year and is proud of his successful efforts there to stop the repeal of the one-cent soda tax that helps fund the WVU School of Medicine.
“WVU trains doctors who care for people all over the state,” he said, “and this funding is critical. I knew it would be a close vote, so I asked questions and spoke a lot in debate. And, the committee defeated the bill 13 to 12.”
Also in Finance, he successfully sponsored an amendment that will make it free for low-income high school students to take AP exams.
In addition, he worked with others on several roads funding bills, and though the governor vetoed them, he’s hopeful they’ll pass and be signed next time.
Williams said he enjoyed the 14-hour day when Republican House leaders tried to amend the omnibus education bill to include harmful, so-called “reforms” that the Senate had passed. “One by one, the amendments were defeated,” he said. “It was the first time I felt like I was in the majority,” he said.
The hardest aspect of the session, Williams said, was the anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that was floating around. “It’s fine to have differences of opinion, but prejudice and discrimination are wrong. I never expected to hear that kind of talk in our State Capitol, and I hope I never do again.”
You can contact Delegate Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or (304) 685-7669.
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