- 1 Ways to Resist
- 2 Updates
- 3 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Healthcare
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Benefits / Tax Cuts
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections / Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations and Events
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Ways to Resist
- Contact your elected officials:
- Governor: Jim Justice (D), next election 2020
- Attorney General: Patrick Morrisey (R), next election 2020
- Secretary of State: Andrew "Mac" Warner (R), next election 2020
- Supreme Court of Appeals (12-year terms; if appointed, must stand in next election; was partisan, but after 2015, nonpartisan)
- Chief Justice Allen H. Loughry II (R), next election 2024
- Justice Robin Jean Davis (D), next election 2024
- Margaret L. Workman (D), next election 2020
- Menis E. Ketchum II (D), next election 2020
- (Elizabeth D. Walker (NP), next election 2028
- Get involved with local organizations.
- Find organizations with state and local presences working in your area.
- Check out our Tools of Resistance.
- Look for upcoming events and opportunities and state and local events.
There are no recent updates.
To see past updates for West Virginia, click here.
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by West Virginia lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
Harmful bills proposed by West Virginia lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- No harmful bills identified.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you're registered to vote. Register to vote here. The deadline to register is 21 days before Election Day. You will need proof of identification the first time you vote. No document is required to vote at present, though West Virginia recently passed Voter ID legislation, which will take effect in 2018.
2018 Senate Elections
- Democratic Senator Joe Manchin will be up for reelection in 2018.
In West Virginia, 6% of the population remains uninsured compared to a national average of 9%. West Virginia is a state that has expanded Medicaid coverage to more people as allowed under the ACA.
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 196,000 people in West Virginia (or 10.6% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 184,000 people (or 10.0% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/28/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- The number of uninsured people in West Virginia is predicted to be 88,000 by 2021 under the ACA. Without the ACA, that number is expected to nearly triple to 261,000, a 194.8% increase.
- West Virginia is among the states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- Prior to the ACA's ban on gender-rating, women in West Virginia could pay up to 28% more for the same coverage, compared to men; an ACA repeal could bring back that coverage gap.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 16,000 jobs could be lost in West Virginia. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay strategy, young adults in West Virginia could pay $926 more in 2018.
Recent ACA Votes by Elected Officials from West Virginia
- On January 12, 2017, the Senate passed 51-48 a budget resolution to draft an ACA repeal bill. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D) voted against the resolution (NAY vote) to repeal the ACA, while Shelley Capito (R) voted in favor of the repeal.
- On January 13, 2017, the House passed 227-198 a budget resolution to draft an ACA repeal bill. All three of West Virginia's representatives—David McKinley (R) of 1st District, Alex Mooney (R) of 2nd District, and Evan Jenkins (R) of 3rd District—voted to repeal the ACA.
- These votes constitute the first two steps (of 10, as outlined here) on the path to full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Concerned voters of WV are encouraged to contact Sen. Manchin and express their approval of vote against repealing the ACA. They are also encouraged to contact Sen. Capito, Rep. McKinley, Rep. Mooney, and Rep. Jenkins and voice their displeasure and concern regarding their recent votes on this issue.
The Facts 42 people were killed by the police in West Virginia from 2013 to 2016, which is the 9th most per capita in the country. Black people were killed at a rate 2.8 times higher than the rate for all people in West Virginia.
- In 2013, West Virginia had 27,828 immigrants, making up 1.5% of the population.
- There are estimated to be fewer than 5,000 undocumented immigrants in West Virginia, making up 0.2% of the population.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- West Virginia does not allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers' licenses.
- West Virginia does not allow undocumented immigrants to attend public college at the same in-state tuition rate as legal residents and citizens.
- In 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order (DACA) that defers deportation for children who were brought to the country as children. The action allows them to work lawfully but does not create a pathway to citizenship or give them legal status in the United States. In West Virginia, 163 individuals have benefited from this executive action.
- 0.3% of K-12 students in West Virginia had undocumented parents in 2014.
- Undocumented immigrants in West Virginia made up 0.2% of the labor workforce in 2014.
- If all undocumented workers were removed from West Virginia, the state would lose $26.6 million in economic activity.
- Undocumented immigrants paid $4.1 million in state and local taxes in West Virginia in 2012. If they all had legal status, they would pay $5.5 million.
- West Virginia passed a law in 2012 requiring public employers to use E-Verify to determine employees’ immigration status.
- West Virginia does not have any cities or counties with sanctuary policies.
- West Virginia was in the bottom 20% for refugee resettlement in 2013–14, with fewer than six refugees per 100,000 residents.
Automatic voter registration has taken off across the country. Legislators in West Virginia passed bills with strong bipartisan support—West Virginia’s automatic voter registration has already been enacted.
- In 2014, 10,908 people were incarcerated in West Virginia, plus a probation population of 7,174 and parole population of 2,553.
- West Virginia does not have any private prisons.
- Of the prison population, 635 people were serving life sentences, and 276 were serving life sentences without parole.
- In West Virginia, a black person is 3.5 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person.
- Corrections expenditures in 2014 were $223 million.
Benefits / Tax Cuts
- West Virginia residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 45,000
- Adults and children: 125,000
- Children: 72,000
- In 2015, an average of 181,961 households and 367,908 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in West Virginia. In 2011, approximately 19% of the population of West Virginia was receiving SNAP benefits. The average monthly benefit per West Virginia household was $225 per household and $109 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 14,843 households, including 7,250 families and 11,733 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in West Virginia was $340 in 2014. Average benefits in West Virginia have fallen in value by 11.9% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 9,624 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In December 2015, there were 2,444 Social Security recipients in the "aged" category who received $270.86 per person on average, for a total of $662,000.
- 40,900 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, West Virginia had 50 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In West Virginia, there were 1,387 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 113 families, 143 veterans, 89 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 165 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- West Virginia received $172 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In West Virginia, more than 36,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all West Virginia households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- West Virginia was not given an infrastructure score from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.
- West Virginia has 272 high-hazard dams and $1 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 35.3% of West Virginia's bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 47% of West Virginia's roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $273 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
- According to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D), creating the processing and pipeline infrastructure necessary to ensure the growth of the natural gas industry is a major infrastructure goal for West Virginia.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- West Virginia has one Planned Parenthood center.
- In 2015, that center was not in a rural, medically underserved, or health-provider shortage area.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 337,000 women of reproductive age.
- There were five abortion providers providers in West Virginia in 2015.
- In 2014, 13.7 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in West Virginia had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
- There is a 24-hour waiting period required after mandatory counseling.
- Parental notice is required for minors.
- Ultrasound requirements exist.
- Abortion is prohibited after 20 weeks except in cases of life or health endangerment.
- Mandated counseling includes misleading information.
- Medical abortion is limited.
Women and Wages
- In West Virginia, 18.3% of women live in poverty. Single mothers make up 48.7% of women living in poverty, while women age 65 and older make up 13.5%.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.71, which is nine cents below the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.60 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.59 for every dollar made by white men.
Domestic Violence in West Virginia
- One-third of homicides in West Virginia are related to domestic violence.
- 12,661 domestic violence offenses were reported to law enforcement in West Virginia in 2010.
- A call is placed to a West Virginia domestic violence hotline every 9 minutes.
- More than two-thirds of women murdered in West Virginia are killed by a family or household member.
Religious freedom law
Religious Freedom laws protect people's right of people to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. However, after same-sex marriage was legalized, conservative states have attempted to enact similar laws with provisions that allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals. West Virginia has introduced three religious freedom laws, but none has passed.
West Virginia lacks laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, insurance, adoption, and credit.
West Virginia lacks laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in certain areas of parenting, including second-parent adoption, foster care, and parental presumption for same-sex couples.
Hate crime laws
West Virginia does not include LGBTQ+ people in hate crime protections and does not require reporting of hate crimes. In May, 2017, the West Virginia Supreme Court heard a case in which two gay men who were victims of an anti-gay assault argued that this assault constituted a hate crime under the current law. Current law forbids violence against a person "because of sex." The Justices ruled against the men, reiterating that hate crime laws in the State do not include sexual orientation.
West Virginia does not have certain laws protecting LGBTQ+ youth, including transgender inclusion in sports, protection from conversion therapy, laws to address LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education laws, and LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice policies.
Health and safety laws
West Virginia lacks certain laws protecting the health and safety of its LGBTQ+ citizens, including nondiscrimination protections in the ACA exchanges, a ban on insurance exclusions for trans health care, trans-inclusive health benefits for state employees, and gender-neutral single-occupancy restrooms. West Virginia has transgender exclusions in state Medicaid.
- West Virginia was ranked 20th in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $11,132 per student.
- As of 2013, West Virginia ranked 46th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $46,405 per year.
- 92% of students in West Virginia attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 44% higher income.
- As of 2014, no students were enrolled in public charter schools in West Virginia.
- West Virginia's overall graduation rate is 85%, just above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates in West Virginia are as follows:
- White: 85%
- Latino: 89%
- Black: 79%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 95%
- American Indian: 59%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 80%
- Limited English Proficient: 89%
- Students with Disabilities: 70%
Consumer Protections / Workers' Rights
- West Virginia has a state minimum wage of $8.75.
- West Virginia has no state law for paid sick leave.
- West Virginia has no state law for paid family leave.
- West Virginia has Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can prohibit unions that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. They are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- West Virginia is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- West Virginia also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- West Virginia does allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- West Virginia does not support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted the covenant in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- About 96% of West Virginia’s electricity generation is from fossil fuels.
- West Virginia has 10 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Approximately 7% of West Virginia’s land is federally owned.
- In 2014, the Black and Asian or Pacific Islander populations had the highest air pollution exposure indices—of 41 and 42—compared to an overall index of 31.
- In 2012, Black and Latino adults in West Virginia were more likely to have asthma—10.8 and 12.1%, respectively, compared to 9.0% overall and 8.9% of the White population.
- The environmental agency in West Virginia is the Department of Environmental Protection.
- Nearly 40 percent of the West Virginia DEP's budget came from the federal government in FY16. More than $30 million dollars of that came from the EPA. Proposed Trump cuts that would impact West Virginia include the Chesapeake Bay Program, a restoration program that provided more than $3 million to West Virginia in 2016 and was changed from $73 million in 2017 to $0 in the proposed 2018 budget. .
- West Virginia does not have a climate action plan.
- West Virginia had but repealed a set of renewable and alternative energy portfolio standards.
- 19.4% of West Virginia's residents are disabled (the highest rate in the country), compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- The employment rate among disabled adults in West Virginia is 25.4% (the lowest in the country), compared to the national average of 34.9%. People without disabilities in West Virginia have a 76.7% employment rate. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1811]
- Approximately 24.1% of eligible voters in West Virginia have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.7%.
- Of adults with disabilities in West Virginia, 29.6% live in poverty, as opposed to 12.4% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024]
- In West Virginia, 19.1% of adults with disabilities between 18 and 64 receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Organizations and Events
Find state/local chapters of national organizations here.
Resistance and Civil Liberties
- American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV)
- Regenerate West Virginia
- West Virginia Progressive Action Network
- West Virginia Progressives
- The Nature Conservancy (WV Chapter)
- Sierra Club—WV Chapter
- Sierra Student Coalition (WVU)
- West Virginia Environmental Council
- West Virginia Rivers Coalition
Disability Rights Organizations
- Disability Rights of WV—1207 Quarrier Street Suite 400, Charleston, WV 25301. tel:800-950-5250
- Northern West Virginia Center for Independent Living—601-603 East Brockway, Suite A & B, Morgantown, WV 26501. tel:844-212-3464
- West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities—959 Hartman Run Rd, Morgantown, WV 26505. tel:304-293-4692
Women's Rights / Reproductive Justice
Local News Sources
Relevant City and County Information
Charleston City Council meetings are every other Monday at 7:00pm. The meetings are located in City Hall at 501 Virginia St. East, in Council Chamber on the third floor.
City Council of Huntington meets every second and fourth Monday of each month. The meeting is located in the Council chambers at City Hall at 800 5th Avenue. Meetings are televised live on channel 24 on the Comcast Cable system.
Morgantown City Council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 7 p.m. The meeting is located at City Hall Council Chambers is 389 Spruce Street. Click here for meeting agendas. This meeting is aired live on COMCAST Channel 15: Morgantown Government Access and Morgantown Granicus: Live Streaming Video Archive.
Parkersburg City Council meets regularly on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:30 PM in the Council Chambers.
Wheeling City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month, the first Tuesday at 12pm and the third Tuesday at 5:30pm. Meetings are held in Council Chambers on the first floor of the City-County Building.