We're celebrating the many anti-civil liberties bills that failed to pass this legislative session

If you made phone calls or emailed your legislators, shared ACLU-WV calls to action on social media, or showed up in person to discuss legislation with your representatives, give yourself a round of applause. Because of your advocacy, when the clock struck midnight Saturday night, numerous pieces of regressive, anti-civil liberties legislation had failed to pass and were therefore declared dead.

Here’s a few of the worst bills ACLU-WV supporters and our partners were able to block.


LGBTQ+ Rights


HB 2545 (RFRA)

The so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act has little to do with restoring or protecting religious freedom. These bills are actually about creating a license to discriminate against people. They can also lead to lawlessness. Across the country, RFRA laws have been cited as defense by people who kidnapped minors, sexually abused children, and medical professionals who denied LGBTQ+ people healthcare.

Multiple RFRAs were introduced this session, but thanks to our supporters and partner organizations like Fairness West Virginia, lawmakers were flooded with phone calls and emails telling them not to support this harmful legislation. None of the bills introduced this session went anywhere as a result.

HB 2171 Gender-Affirming Care

One of the most insidious legislative trends across the country has been the targeting of transgender kids and their families. Study after study shows us that gender-affirming care for young trans people is lifesaving, cutting suicide rates in half. But anti-trans lawmakers have introduced a flurry of bills to label this lifesaving care as child abuse. From Day 1 of the legislative session, there were rumors that similar legislation would be introduced here, but your advocacy helped keep that from happening.  

SB 71 (Conversion Therapy Bans)

Year after year, our state Legislature has failed to protect LGBTQ+ West Virginians from discrimination and conversion therapy. So, city councils have stepped in to pass local ordinances offering these protections. Two cities – Charleston and Morgantown – have banned the discredited and harmful practice of conversion therapy on minors. SB 71 would have overturned these ordinances after an amendment passed in the Senate. It would have also prevented cities from setting minimum wages and other measures. The bill failed amid strong public opposition.




HB 4573 (Banning Helping Unhoused People)  

This terrible bill would have banned services for people experiencing homeless near public and/or private schools. The bill relied on faulty and stigmatizing stereotypes that homeless people are inherently dangerous to minors, when in reality most child abuse is committed by a trusted adult in the child’s life. Furthermore, it totally ignored the reality that there are 10,000 homeless children in West Virginia. Those kids’ families often need access to services near their child’s school. Dozens of people turned out for a public hearing against this bill, and many more of you called and wrote to your representatives. Although it cleared one committee, the bill didn’t make it past the finish line.


Forced Birth


HB 4005 (Fetal Tissue)

This was one of several pieces of forced-birth legislation introduced this session. It would have imposed onerous requirements on abortion providers for the on-site disposal of fetal tissue. It also would have barred the for-profit sale of fetal tissue, something that is already illegal under federal law and which does not occur in West Virginia. The bill was designed to further stigmatize abortion. It failed thanks in large part to the dedicated efforts of our partners at Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, Planned Parenthood Votes South Atlantic, and WV FREE.

HB 4004 (15-week ban)

Worse yet was HB 4004, which would have banned abortion entirely after just 15 weeks gestation. This bill was clearly unconstitutional under the viability requirements established by the U.S. Supreme Court, and would have led to more West Virginians carrying pregnancies to term against their will. The bill seemed fast-tracked for passage, but it failed to make it to the Governor’s desk. 


Criminal Law Reform


HB  2257 (Extended Supervision)

States are finally realizing the tough-on-crime thinking from the War on Drugs era leads to overcrowded jails and prison, and doesn’t actually deter crime or foster rehabilitation. But HB 2257 would have doubled down on those kinds of failed policies by adding significantly more time to parole and/or probation for certain drug crimes. Research shows the longer a person is on community supervision, the more likely a technical violation will be found to send them back to prison. West Virginia’s jails and prisons are bursting at the seams already.  

HB 4006 (Criminal Code Rewrite)

Another bill that would have dramatically increased prison and jail overcrowding was House Bill 4006, a complete re-write of the state’s criminal code. Although this bill would have lessened some criminal penalties, it would have increased many more, adding more burdens to our over-capacity system.

Classroom Censorship

HB 4011/SB 498

Inappropriately named the “Anti-Racism Act,” these bills differed slightly from each other, though both were designed to intimidate teachers from discussing issues like race in the classroom. SB 498 made it to the Senate floor for final passage after being somewhat watered down in the legislative process. Senators voted to pass it, but they did so after the clock struck midnight, making the bill’s passage ineffective.