West Virginia lawmakers debate punishing one of their own

West Virginia Headlines

Friday’s session began with an inter-faith prayer featuring Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders. The controversy stemmed from an anti-Muslim poster displayed at Republican Party Day at the Capitol last Friday. 

Marion County Delegate Mike Caputo objected to the poster’s message, and angrily kicked in the main door to the House chamber, hurting a doorkeeper. But the effort to censure or remove Caputo from office failed.

“First of all, I want to thank everyone in a bipartisan fashion who I believe has forgiven me for my actions, which I openly admitted and openly apologized to everyone including the doorkeeper. So, hopefully this thing is behind us,” said House Minority Whip Mike Caputo (D-Marion). 

Caputo was stripped of his committee assignments, but there wasn’t much support for punishment beyond that.

“Obviously violence should never be accepted,” said Delegate Josh Higginbotham (R-Putnam). ” I do believe that perhaps censure is in order, but expulsion, no. He did apologize.” 

“I think there’s a lot of work that needs to be done here and we should be focused on that,” added said Delegate Chad Lovejoy (D-Cabell).

The group that bought last week’s poster that sparked the outrage, was back again Friday, with another message,

“I’m back today. It’s International Women’s Day and I’m back here in support of free speech because we cannot let them take our free speech away from us,” said Brenda Arthur, of ACT for America WV.

“I don’t think her right to free speech is being violated,” responded Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha). “She’s welcome to come with any posters she wants.” 

Meanwhile the Legislature is trying to pass dozens of bills at the eleventh hour.

All this sets the stage for Saturday’s final day of this Legislative Session. If a bill doesn’t get done by midnight Saturday, it’s done for the year. 

Governor Justice has called a Special Session to deal with education reforms and pay raises, but not start date for that has been set.

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