Last updated: March 05. 2014 5:02AM - 1558 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

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That giant sucking sound coming from the state Capitol last week was supposedly pro-life Southern West Virginia Democrats who were finally able to breathe.

The tension was relieved when Mingo County Delegate Harry Keith White rose to request that an electioneering bill, House Bill 4463, be laid over on the calendar. When White’s motion was approved (naturally on a voice vote; not a roll call), those Democrats no longer had to worry about choosing sides on yet-another pro-life, pro-choice bill. West Virginians for Life had made it clear that a “yes” vote on 4463 would be viewed as pro-choice. Earlier attempts to insist that the coalfield Democrats are all strongly pro-life would have been shot down with a “yes” vote on this bill. I assure you some would have had to vote that way due to their union supporters.

So, with all the courage a coalfield Democrat can muster, leadership gave up on passing the bill and put it on the table. Since the day the tabling took place was the final “crossover” day, it meant that even if the bill was passed by the House the next day, it could not be sent to the state Senate for ultimate passage. That meant it was dead for this session. Oh, what a relief it was.

These coalfield Democrats can cry all they want after having their hands caught in the pro-choice cookie jar on pro-life legislation earlier in the session. The fact is they want no votes whatsoever on the subject. That way they can still claim to be “pro-life” to the voters back home while cuddling up to, and raising campaign funds from, pro-choice advocates. It is as simple as that.

In fact, the Democrats’ chief legislative fundraiser, Delegate Stephen Skinner, made one of the most passionate pro-choice speeches when the protect the baby bill finally was voted on by the full House. Do you figure he raises funds for candidates who support his position or not? I don’t think anyone is necessarily a “one-issue” delegate but Skinner surely is pro-choice and strongly so. It seems odd that he raises tons of money for allegedly pro-lifers.

Ask your coalfield Democrat exactly what he has done lately to promote the pro-life agenda beside talk about it back home. When push came to shove on the protect-the-unborn-baby act two weeks ago, the coalfield Dems, except for Jeff Eldridge of Lincoln County and Rick Moye of Raleigh, voted the pro-choice position not to discharge the bill from committee. They can bluster and fluster all they want about the discharge motion being “procedural” and a “choice of leadership and the committee system.” The vote was — and is recorded — pro-choice. It is not just for me to “guess” how a delegate voted; there is a recorded vote on the issue. No longer can most of the coalfield Democrats shout that they have “100 percent pro-life” voting records. Not any more; not after they followed their true colors and killed the discharge motion.

Logan Delegate Rupie Phillips, whose rants on Facebook are grammatical and factual disasters, can talk about being pro-life all he wants. He hasn’t always voted that way and might not have this time if — as mentioned — his hand hadn’t been caught in the pro-choice cookie jar. The first sentence of one of his Facebook rants said, “I have a reporter that has never gave me a kind word.” Great grammar from a great leader of free men and women. I wonder what reporter he’s referring to?

When the heat came — and it surely came — they all switched and voted for the protect-the-unborn-baby bill on the House floor. Nobody knows for sure how they voted in committee, since leadership would not allow a roll call vote in either HHS or the Judiciary Committee. But let me predict something: that bill will never escape the state Senate intact. And coalfield Democrat legislators will do nothing to see that it does — and they knew it wouldn’t when they finally voted for it. They can ballyhoo how the bill is now “moving,” but it is not because they did not try their best to stop it. And if the press had not publicized their pro-choice votes, it would never have moved from the HHR committee to start with.

I will mention it one more time: these fellows have to say they are pro-life to be re-elected. Yet, in Charleston, they play footsie with pro-choice forces and receive sizable contributions to help keep pro-life legislation from seeing the light of day. When they can bottle up pro-life bills in committee, that’s what they do. If they can keep such legislation from even being introduced, so much the better for them. That’s the simple, but plain, truth. And if none of them ever see a pro-life bill again, they’ll be much happier.

In the Senate, most, if not all, of the penalty provisions will be stripped, and senators are likely to increase the protection of unborn babies from 20 weeks to 24 weeks of gestation time. That means legislators will get a chance to show that they want an unborn fetus to face the chance of pain four more weeks during his or her development. Coalfield Democrat House members knew what the Senate would do; let’s see what they do to try to stop them.

… Taxpayers should likely take comfort in knowing the state Senate was so concerned about the many crises facing the state that they took a day to dress up in bow ties last week. I suppose it may have been a stress-reducer for senators worried about chemicals in the water and a budget that is in shambles.

Most senators gave coalfield Democrat Senator Daniel Hall of Wyoming County credit for the “day,” which I quickly dubbed “Pee Wee Herman Day in the Senate.” When I explained my thoughts on the matter, Hall shied away from taking full credit. Since the senators decided to look like Pee Wee Herman, I wondered aloud if they shared his position on the issues. I also wondered if, while the state is literally going to hell in a hand basket, the best response senators could come up with was to look like Herman for a day.

Probably the funniest line involving the whole thing came when I was told by Hall and others that the bow tie episode was in preparation for the appearance this week of University of Southern Pennsylvania at Morgantown President E. Gordon Gee. Gee is apparently famous for wearing bow ties, along with Pee Wee. When I asked Hall why, if Gee is coming this week, the senators wore bow ties last week, he said it was to “practice.”

Thus, citizens, be reassured by the fact that it takes your state senators at least a week to figure out how to tie or clip on a bow tie and wear it properly. That should make you feel much better about having these folks in charge of solving your other, minor problems, such as safe drinking water.

… While the senators will no doubt fawn all over Gee when he appears, I remain convinced that about all West Virginia University does for the state is take funding from taxpayers. There’s no need to reiterate here all the reasons I think that. Suffice it to say that even Marshall-sympathetic senators will bow to Gee and treat him like the Third Coming when he arrives at the Capitol.

… For those interested in my personal life (show of hands, please), I am finally the grandfather of a bouncing baby girl, thanks to my son Chay. Mahayla Brooke Gregory arrived Friday afternoon at Women and Children’s Hospital. She joins my three grandsons and appears healthy and carefree.

As a predestinarian, I, like John Calvin and Jesus, believe all things are predestined. Thus, I will point out that Mahayla arrived, not of her own free will, but after considerable coaxing by her parents and the CAMC staff. Had she had it her way, I would guess she would still be comfortably resting in the womb. To take the point just a bit further, I think she and I have no more control over anything on Earth than she did her birth. I can’t find the Bible chapter that says God consulted with Adam and/or Eve before creating the heavens and Earth. Nor can I find that He asked the pair if they would like to be born. Perhaps that is somewhere I have missed.

If Mahayla had her own “free will,” she likely wouldn’t have selected me for a grandfather.

… For those who don’t remember, you might want to go back a year or so and see who I endorsed for speaker of the house. I believe it was White, the Mingo County delegate. Other than telling the truth about White’s vote on the protect-the-unborn-baby discharge motion, I have never written a negative word about him. Yet, White is nearly relentless in his attacks on me. All of which convinces me that White takes criticism of Team Mingo as a personal insult. Voters need to know he feels that way, I suppose.

In addition, I am aware that he and fellow Mingo Delegate Justin Marcum are not unique in attempting to tell voters one story while voting another. But when the pair starts writing about silencing the press’s right to report their votes with “libel” lawsuits, they might want to consult court rulings to see what constitutes libel toward a public figure. Truth, by the way, is always an absolute defense in any case.

White, who suggested in an email that newspapers check out my “background,” could legally do so himself, I guess, if I applied for a loan at the Bank of Mingo. I might just do that so White can reassure himself that all I have done, I have freely admitted in this column.

Those who say I am a womanizer, a pain in the rear and one who sometimes has trouble keeping up with my just bills are absolutely correct. I was also quite ill for about two years and made grievous mental and physical mistakes. Those who say I really don’t care to “kiss up” to politicians and simply tell the truth as I see it are also correct. Those who say other things are not, as I have noted here. White may be disappointed when he reads the file to see I am not a felon, a pill-taker or the other interesting things my enemies say about me.

Meanwhile, I do make an effort to do better as I move along life’s pathway. But I still believe God is totally in charge and predestines everything that occurs, including my romantic liaisons — even with the married woman from Hamlin. He also directed my hero, Jimmy Swaggart’s rendezvous with prostitutes, in my view.

Rumor has it, by the way, that negotiations have been underway to sell the Bank of Mingo to another banking interest. I’d ask White but I’m not sure if he would tell the … oh, yeah, libel. OK, I won’t ask.

… Skinner served as chief fundraiser last year when Kanawha Delegate Doug Skaff held an event in Charleston. Yet Skaff, too, claims to be “100 percent pro-life.” He actually is one who sponsored the original protect-the-unborn-baby bill and then voted against discharging it from the HHR Committee, where Delegate Don Perdue held it captive. Suffice it to say Perdue is more protective of the roosters that cockfight than 20-week unborn babies. Skaff, on the other hand, might have trouble defending a pro-life record.

Meanwhile, Eldridge recently held a fundraiser at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park. While he listed House Speaker Tim Miley and White as sponsors, Skinner’s name did not appear on Eldridge’s invitation.

Coincidences do, after all, often occur involving politics.

… The story that U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller had “passed away” was rampant at the state Capitol and on the Internet Friday morning. Fortunately, the senior senator had a speaking engagement at Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston and appeared alive and well when I walked over to see him Friday afternoon. Rockefeller laughed about the rumor, saying he tried to reach his wife, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, to tell her it wasn’t true.

… It was not close to being unanimous, but the House managed to pass, 52-44, House Bill 4490 to increase their stranglehold on Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrissey. While Morrissey and his supporters argue the bill is clearly unconstitutional, that didn’t stand in the way of the mostly Democrat delegates.

Delegates Josh Barker of Boone County; Eldridge; Marcum; Phillips and Ted Tomblin of Logan; and White voted for the attorney general ethics and accountability act, which is nothing more than a Democrat attempt to hamstring Morrissey from doing his job. Dems are unhappy that Morrissey defeated their longtime favorite, Democrat Darrell McGraw, in 2012.

… White, Phillps, Marcum, Barker and Tomblin are among the sponsors of House Bill 4310, designed to keep the names of those who apply for, and receive, gun permits in the state from becoming public. The West Virginia Press Association vehemently opposes this bill that would limit the public’s right to know. This is not, as we have seen, a major concern for some of these coalfield delegates. Under this legislation, only law enforcement would know who applied for and received a concealed weapon permit.

… Rumors, story ideas and comments are always welcome. Use my email address or call my cell, 304-533-5185.

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