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PNS Daily Newscast - March 2, 2021 


Human rights advocates applaud Biden's policy to reunite immigrant children separated from parents; pivotal SCOTUS arguments today on Voting Rights Act.


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President Biden meets with Mexican President Lopez Obrador; DHS Secretary Mayorkas says separated immigrant families may be able to stay in U.S.; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduces legislation for a wealth tax.

WV Groups Push Congress to Pass "Democracy Rescue" Bill

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After events such as the pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol, civil-rights groups are pushing to pass the For the People Act, claiming it is needed to "rebuild democracy." (Wikimedia Commons)
After events such as the pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol, civil-rights groups are pushing to pass the For the People Act, claiming it is needed to "rebuild democracy." (Wikimedia Commons)
January 20, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - As Donald Trump departs the presidency today, a coalition of West Virginia civil-rights groups wants Congress to pass a bill aimed at rebuilding government. House Bill 1, known as the "For the People Act," recommends sweeping reforms to extend voting rights, end partisan gerrymandering and boost ethics laws.

Julie Archer, a coordinator for the group West Virginia Citizens for Clean Elections, said the act would make the democracy more inclusive, which she sees as much needed in an era of election misinformation and rioters overtaking the U.S. Capitol.

"We have an opportunity with the new Congress to transform our democracy with the passage of HR 1," she said. "In addition to protecting and expanding voting rights, HR 1 would address the rampant corruption and disregard for ethics, accountability, oversight and rule of law that continue to plague our government."

Republicans who oppose the bill call it a "power grab" by Democrats that would restrict political opposition and enhance Democratic voting turnout. The GOP Senate blocked a first version of the bill last year, but with more Democrats now in Congress, it's more likely to pass.

Gerrymandering reform is a hot issue in West Virginia this year, after the state passed a law changing House districts from multi-member to all single-member districts, according to state House Del. Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia. He pointed to the Republican supermajority in both state House and Senate, which he said will impact the redistricting process.

"There are even more opportunities to engage in partisan gerrymandering as these new districts get drawn," he said. "So, that's a big concern of mine and one reason why I think this federal legislation is so important."

Takeiya Smith, a youth organizer for the group Our Future West Virginia, noted that African-Americans gained the right to vote 56 years ago, and many believe this right has been under attack ever since. She said HB 1 would address this inequity.

"Voter suppression is still very much alive," she said. "Now, the suppression comes in forms of voter ID laws, toxic partisan and racial gerrymandering, voter-roll purges and precinct closures, and offender disenfranchisement."

HB 1 would require states to start automatic voter registration and expand early voting and same-day registration. The bill also would restore protections in the 1965 Voting Rights Act that had been stripped away by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - WV