A Citizen’s Guide to Parliamentary Actions

WV Legislative Photography, Photo by Perry Bennett

BY TAYLOR BENNETT, POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB

As West Virginia’s 60-day legislative session moves toward its conclusion, we’re beginning to see parliamentary actions happen on the floor that aren’t often part of the process in the early days of the session.

Earlier in the session, bills that are simpler are more likely to reach the floor for debate. Simple, in this case, means two things: 

  • First, there is general support for the bill, so it’s more likely to pass without a need for much debate.
  • Second, that the bill didn’t require numerous amendments and continued consideration. 

 

Later in the 60-day session, it’s more likely that complex bills, which may have divided support or require a greater level of consideration, will make it to the floor. This means that instead of letting bills sail through the process with resounding support or overwhelming opposition, legislators must take extra time to debate each bill’s pros and cons. 

They use an array of parliamentary tools to do so:

Request to Yield to Questions

This action is used throughout the session to help legislators understand the content of bills, amendments. Any legislator who has a question can request another legislator – who is usually the sponsor of the bill or amendment, or the chair of the committee which has last reviewed the bill – to answer their question. This is called asking the legislator to yield. Legislators may refuse to yield if they do not wish to answer questions.

Motion to Lay a Bill Upon the Table

This motion may be made about motions, bills, or amendments that are being considered. Essentially, it ceases discussion on whatever topic is before the House or Senate immediately and removes it from the agenda. Topics may be brought back, or taken from the table, but only when a motion is made to do so and that motion passes.

This is a tool that legislators who oppose a piece of legislation may use to try to “kill the bill.”

Motion to Postpone Action Indefinitely

If passed, a motion to postpone indefinitely removes a piece of legislation from consideration and stipulates that it will not be placed on the agenda again in this session.

There are a few exceptions to this, but this is often the final action used to kill a bill.

Request for Ruling on Whether an Amendment or Discussion is Germane

One rule that is used to maintain a fair and equitable process for reviewing legislation is the rule that all discussions and amendments related to bills must be germane.

Germane means that something is directly related to the original purpose of the bill. If a legislator thinks that something is not germane, they can request a ruling from the Speaker or the President, who will determine whether or not the amendment should be entertained, or the discussion should continue. 

Motion to Reconsider a Vote

This motion has very specific criteria in order to be considered. In order to request a reconsideration of a vote, a legislator must have voted on the prevailing side of the question. For example: If an amendment passed, and I would like to have the body reconsider that vote, I can only make a motion to do so if I originally voted to pass the amendment. 

This is relatively rare, and it’s even rarer that a motion to reconsider a vote passes and the vote is actually reconsidered.

Citizen lobbyists know that while it can be difficult to understand every aspect of parliamentary law, you don’t need to understand everything in order to know how a few key tools can impact how bills you care about move through the policy process. 

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Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Message from our Executive Leadership Team

Fifteen years ago, stakeholders building up local communities and economies in West Virginia convened to map a coordinated strategy to systemically grow community economic development activity in the state. From the shared vision and collaborative leadership of dozens of strategic partners across the state, the WV Community Development Hub was born.

Since that time, The Hub has grown into the anchor community development organization serving West Virginia. We have built upon the original vision to create a method for rural, community-led development strategies that is uniquely tailored to the needs and opportunities of our state.

As we have grown and developed a proven model for success, our partnerships with community and economic development practitioners, funders, and committed West Virginia residents have been foundational to every element of our work.

Over the past two years, the team at The Hub has adapted to the unprecedented challenges our communities have faced during the pandemic by leaning into our core strengths to deepen our impact. The Hub remains committed to tackling persistent challenges, and we have focused our attention on the most impactful elements of our work.

We are supporting community leaders to advance their visions for local development, creating new pathways for engagement and leadership growth through our virtual training platform, and leading strategies that lift up voices of community leaders to move forward solutions to long-held challenges to growth.

If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that nothing about the future is set in stone. While the coming year may present enormous opportunities for advancement in our state, they will also inevitably require significant capacity building, shared strategies that are grounded in trust-based partnerships, and extended efforts to support the leadership development of individuals and organizations who have been asked to do more during a time of extreme stress and strain.

The services that anchor organizations like The Hub provide are even more critical in this time, and we expect our work to scale significantly in the coming years ahead.

We look forward to continuing to do the work of putting into action the vision and the shared strategies envisioned by that core group of community economic development practitioners and funders fifteen years ago.

In Continued Accompaniment,

– WV Community Development Hub
Executive Leadership Team

Stephanie Tyree

Executive Director

Amanda Workman Scott

Director of Community Engagement

Emma Pepper

Director of Strategic Network Communications

Katie Loudin

Director of Strategic Development

Montgomery

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Smithers

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Kingwood

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Lewis County

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Meadow River Valley Region

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Monticello Neighborhood of Clarksburg

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Watch their community documentary.

New Martinsville

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Systemic Change

2021 became a time period of catalytic potential as we saw years of investment into our core strategies to enact systemic change yield new results. Our strategic focus areas include policy, communications, and supporting the community economic development system in leveraging unique financing opportunities such as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative and Opportunity Zones.

In addition, through our strategic policy support role within the Abandoned Properties Coalition, The Hub successfully advanced two key objectives: the creation of a statewide land bank at the West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation and extension of the state’s Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. 

Through the Opportunity Appalachia program, 6 catalytic community projects located in WV-based Opportunity Zones received $250,000 for pre-development technical assistance. Three projects received additional private funding as a result of program participation.

Community Coaching

In 2021, we accompanied 16 communities through our in-depth, professional coaching programs. In addition to leaning into coaching and financing opportunities offered through these programs, participating communities leveraged an additional $2.8 million in funding on their own for community economic development projects. While participating in our entry-level coaching program, Cultivate WV, Montgomery and Smithers realized momentum-building success through access to $40,000 in seed funding for projects like farmers markets, public art, wayfinding, community events, and development of a trail system.

Six communities, Lewis County, Kingwood, Meadow River Valley, Monticello neighborhood in Clarksburg, New Martinsville and Parsons, graduated the intermediate planning program Blueprint Communities* with strategic plans in place. We also launched a new round of HubCAP, our flagship community economic development program, in six towns located in the Monongahela National Forest region: Cowen, Franklin, White Sulphur Springs, Elkins, Marlinton, and Petersburg.

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Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. 

A core team led by Woodlands Development Group also participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Franklin

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Marlinton

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Petersburg

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

White Sulphur Springs

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Charleston

A core team led by Crawford Holdings, LLC participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Huntington

Core teams led by Thundercloud, Inc. and the City of Huntington participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support community development projects located in Opportunity Zones.

Grafton

A core team led by Unleash Tygart, Inc participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Leadership Development

As hundreds of people began to engage in our virtual training activities in 2020, we saw a critical opportunity to scale and deepen our impact. This year, The Hub team developed an accessible, virtual platform with options for self-guided and group learning activities as well as professional coaching.

Kickstart Communities is now the crux of our efforts to bring new people into the work and grow their leadership. These activities now form the foundational stages of a Community Leadership Development Pipeline to move motivated residents from seeing the challenges in their communities to proactively collaborating to resolve them.

Cowen

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. Read their community case study.