CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — It may have gone down in defeat by just seconds in the legislature Sunday, but the fight over critical race theory in West Virginia is far from over. It’ll likely have to wait until next year’s session, though.
We’ve all seen a Kentucky Derby or an Indianapolis 500 with a photo-finish, and this vote was just that close.
“The ayes appear to have it, the ayes do have it. The Senate’s adjourned sine die,” said State Senate resident Craig Blair (R- Berkeley).
And with that, the West Virginia State Senate ended its 60-day legislative session Sunday morning.
Just moments before the vote to adjourn, senators thought they completed action on Senate Bill-498, the Anti-Racism Act of 2022, but the clock had officially run out on the session before the vote was finalized.
The Senate Clerk’s office estimated it was less than ten seconds too late to become law.
The bill would ban teachers from instructing that one race is superior to another, or that whites are inherently racist. Democrats insist that no one is teaching that now, but Republicans say it’s a preventive measure. The two parties agree on one thing. This issue will be back next year.
“I expect it to come back in some form. It was clear based on the votes, that there is considerable enthusiasm for this issue. I believe that the legislature wants to do something,” said Del. Chris Pritt, (R-Kanawha).
“It’s been pushed in many states. And they find out that this is what basically decided the race in Virginia, for the Virginia governor. And so, they took that success and they are trying to push it on other states,” said Del. Jim Barach, (D-Kanawha).
On an earlier vote on the Senate, the measure was approved by a comfortable margin. And three-fourths of the House approved it, so it’s clear Republicans have the votes to pass this if they want to try again next year.