CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Eli Baumwell, interim director of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, issued the following statement regarding a lack of transparency at the West Virginia Senate:

“Senate President Craig Blair promised a transparent and accountable process. Less than a week into the session, that promise rings hollow.

On the first day of the Session, with no warning, no agenda, and no public input the Senate suspended the Constitution to pass 23 bills, including a major overhaul of our largest state agency and a highly controversial bill that censors teachers and school administrators from discussing racism.

Furthermore, the Senate has banned any private photography in any of its meetings – proceedings which are open to the public. This was done in response to a lawsuit filed by ACLU-WV over prohibiting photography during debate on the abortion ban.

Senate leadership could have then changed their rules to allow the transparency they promised. Instead, they have doubled down on this prohibition. If the Senate is committed to a fair and transparent government, they must end at once this backwards restriction, and commit to running legislation through a full, thorough, and robust legislative process with appropriate notice to the public. Otherwise, they send a clear message that they fear basic accountability.”