It’s been several months since the end of the 2020 legislative session. My colleagues and I headed home to dive immediately into COVID-19 preparedness in our communities. While that work continues today and will go on for some time, I want to take a moment to reflect on the work we accomplished this year.
Certainly, there were disappointments. Many of you reached out to share yours throughout the session. But that is the nature of our democracy. No one won and everyone gave a little. And that is what I want to emphasize now, especially in this moment as we come together in the face of our present challenge.
I am proud to say there were many bipartisan victories, moments when our political differences were put aside, and we came together for the good of all West Virginians. As your elected officials, we are granted the great gift of the stewardship of our communities and state by you. We don’t take that responsibility lightly and we go to work every day to make the best decisions we can in our respective positions.
With this in mind, I want to share an overview of some of what we worked on across the aisle for you:
• Sponsored bipartisan HB 2724 to allow a tax credit for small businesses that brand, market or advertise products grown or manufactured in West Virginia.
• Passed HB 4497 requiring an external defibrillator device at secondary school athletic events.
• I was the lead sponsor of HB 4649 to improve trauma-informed practices in our schools.
• Sponsored bipartisan HB 4790 to improve career technical education at middle schools.
• Sponsored bipartisan HB 4773 to create a workgroup to investigate and recommend screening protocols for adverse childhood trauma.
• Sponsored bipartisan HB 4735 related to employment of at least one school nurse at every school.
• Sponsored HB 4123 that clarifies 911 telecommunications workers in the list of individuals who perform “emergency services” during disasters.
• Sponsored HB 4494 to expand tobacco use cessation initiatives in the state.
• I supported and sponsored multiple bipartisan bills to improve the Foster Care system, including the Ombudsman program that investigates complaints made within the foster care system.
This list is not exhaustive of all the work we accomplished throughout the session, but I include it here to illustrate an important point. Your representatives are working together across the aisle to take care of West Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens.
Critics would like you to believe that we are tirelessly at each other’s throats in Charleston. That we spend our energy fanning the flames of division between poor and rich, women and men, black and white people. That Democrats are fighting to raise your taxes and Republicans are busily trying to expand gun rights day in and day out. This is a convenient picture to paint when one seeks to benefit from division and the high emotions of divisiveness. But it’s simply not true.
The truth is that while I do not see eye to eye with my colleagues on every issue, there is plenty of common ground and we sought that common ground every day. We were unified in our moral obligation to do the very best work we can for our constituents. And, more often than not, we found ourselves on the same team working toward the singular goal of a better West Virginia. Sure, there were disagreements and there will be more to come, but know your government is working as intended.
Since being back at home, locally, I’ve spent the last several months working closely with the health department and local medical providers, county school officials, senior organizations, churches and many more:
• Coordinating local COVID-19 preparedness and response plans
• Gathering and disseminating information to the public
• Sharing and creating community resources
• Assisting folks with unemployment claims and issues
• Answering questions and providing information to local businesses navigating the numerous and ever-changing regulations for virus containment
Please remember our folks on the front line of this virus – our essential workers — nurses and doctors, grocery store and restaurant employees, police, fire & EMS, and our teachers and school employees — keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
I am incredibly grateful for the relationship that I have formed with my constituents during my first term of service and hope that you will continue to give me your ideas and feedback. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to find me on my Facebook, Delegate Cindy Lavender-Bowe, to stay up to date on what work I’m doing to best represent the 42nd District. As your Delegate, I am dedicated to transparency and responsiveness. Don’t hesitate to reach out. I would love to hear from you regarding any legislation that you’re concerned about, any ideas you have for innovative legislation, or even just to say hello!
On a personal note, your Forty-Something Freshman turned 50, so I’ll be looking forward to your suggestions for my new column title.
Delegate Cindy Lavender-Bowe
Capitol Phone: (304) 340 3129