West Virginia is the latest state to copycat Arkansas in a wave of state legislatures banning ordinances protecting minorities.
West Virginia lawmakers are ramming through a bill that would ban local cities and towns from enacting or enforcing non-discrimination laws that do not already exist at the state level. Camouflaged as a "commerce bill," exactly as Arkansas lawmakers successfully did recently, the bill is designed to prohibit local municipalities from enacting protections for LGBT people.
The legislation, called the West Virginia Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act, was introduced just yesterday, and is already scheduled for a vote today by the House Government Organization Committee.
"Such uniform laws will benefit the businesses, organizations and employers seeking to do business in our state and will attract new ones to our state," the bill claims, despite the fact that businesses successfully navigate variations in local ordinances without issue.
"HB 2881 not only prohibits the rights of communities to govern themselves but it also interferes with democracy in its purest form: city and town councils," Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia said in an email. "When a nondiscrimination ordinance or resolution is considered or passed, each community has the opportunity to speak out against it, vote the city or town leadership out of office, or repeal the ordinance. There’s no need for interference by the state legislature."
The legislation has strong support already, including eight Republican and three Democratic co-sponsors.
Arkansas' bill passed into law yesterday, and Texas is currently weighing an almost exact copy of that legislation.
Expect more states to enact similar bills, and stay tuned for results of today's vote.