BY TAYLOR BENNETT, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB
For many people working on policy matters in West Virginia, the end of the state government’s annual legislative session is a chance to take a breather, to step back from working hard to see policy issues passed and ground gained on the issues that they care about.
I wanted to take this time as an opportunity to pause and think through how we can equip folks across the state with the knowledge and skills that they need in order to make an impact on the policymaking process for the next session and beyond.
As I thought about it, I noticed that there is a gap between all that happens around policymaking at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston during the legislative session in the early part of each year, and the information that regular people have access to about those happenings for the remaining months.
Through this spring and early summer, The Hub partnered with the WV Center on Budget and Policy, Our Children Our Future, American Friends Service Committee, WV Citizen Action Group, and West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare to connect people with information about the issues that those groups moved on this year during the session. The partners took this workshop to Beckley, Logan, Parkersburg, Martinsburg, and Wheeling.
Meetings were held regionally and addressed a range of policies that were debated this year. Some policies were passed, some weren’t and maybe should have been, and still others were defeated.
Representatives from each partner organization presented information on the issues they stood for at the Capitol and taught participants a key skill that they had used in their work.
Topics we touched on included next steps for public school employees and PEIA; the state budget and how it impacts residents; turning ideas into policy solutions; community and economic development; policy implications for social safety nets; and more.
Perhaps most importantly, participants were able to use the information they gathered to plan their next steps. For some, that meant engaging with one of the organizations represented, while others used the skills that they learned to take action on a different issue entirely.
Check out this article that WVNS out of Beckley published about the workshop in their community!