The West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday evening to move forward on HB 4023, which would increase the state minimum wage in three stages to $7.25 by June 2008. It is now scheduled for second reading in the senate but must make it through the Finance Committee before reaching the floor.
Again, this is a very encouraging step. It won't cover everyone, but it's a start and we can work in the future to expand it. Progress in social and economic justice is often incremental. When the Children's Health Insurance Program was first proposed here, it didn't cover all children but it has since been greatly expanded (more on this below). Come to think of it, even something as hugely important as the Emancipation Proclamation applied to practically nobody at the time it was issued.
There is still time for West Virginians to call their senators using the toll free capitol switchboard number, 1-877-565-3447. It would be especially useful for people who live in districts represented by committee members to contact them. Link: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/committees/senate/finance/sencomFIN.cfm).
At this time, the committee schedule has not been posted. Check back for more information as the situation develops.
WHY THIS IS SO IMPORTANT: The campaign to raise the minimum wage in West Virginia is one of many going on around the country. (For more information on state and national campaigns, click on the Let Justice Roll link.) Ultimately, the goal is to use the momentum from the states to raise the federal minimum wage and promote policies based on shared prosperity.
It looks like the legislature has reached a compromise on health care expansion which includes Governor Manchin's proposals to expand basic insurance and primary care at affordable rates and the expansion of CHIP to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, which should cover about 3000 more children. Families eligible would pay premiums to the program. CHIP currently covers families earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Finally, the bill will create a panel of experts to explore ways of providing affordable health care to the approximately 250,000 uninsured West Virginia adults. Again, it's not universal and comprehensive care, but it is a decent step in the right direction.
COMING ATTRACTIONS (YES, INCLUDING ANIMAL PICTURES)
It has come to the attention of El Cabrero that people tend to post comments mostly in response to gratuitous animal pictures. I apologize, but it can't be all animal pictures all the time, just as one cannot or at least should not live solely on beer and popcorn, however much we would like to. Still, this weekend's Goat Rope plans to include another exclusive animal interview and photo session to wrap up legislative coverage. And next week, I hope to return more to dealing with national issues.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED