Some promising news out of West Virginia last night:
The state Senate has put the brakes on the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration bill (HB4012), making significant language changes that bill supporters say guts the measure.
The Senate, on a 23-11 vote Tuesday evening, approved an amendment by Sens. Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha) and Ron Stollings (D-Boone) that said the RFRA law could not be used to invalidate anti-discrimination laws or ordinances. The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, which is pushing the bill, said the amendment essentially neutralizes the bill.
The vote followed an emotional debate where Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) argued in favor of Palumbo’s amendment, saying he feared a RFRA law could be used to discriminate against the LGTB community.
“I don’t want us to go down this path,” said a tearful Carmichael. “I just don’t.” Senate President Bill Cole (R-Mercer), who is a Republican candidate for governor, voted against the Palumbo amendment.
The action could spell the end of the RFRA bill. The House passed the measure earlier 72-26, but now with significantly different versions and time running out in the session, the fate of the bill is in doubt.
Watch Carmichael’s speech at the end of the clip below. The bill is up for final passage today.