CHARLESTON, W.Va. - After 35 days of the legislative session, there's been more talk in the West Virginia House of Delegates on guns and pepperoni rolls than voter identification laws.
With several bills before both legislative chambers, though, that could change at any minute, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said.
"The way I look at it is, in the beginning, even before the session started, I read in the paper and I was asked questions when folks were saying that this was going to be their priority bill," Tennant said Wednesday. "When this was something to add burdens, to add more restrictions, more burdens to voters, that was going to be their priority."
Earlier this week, Tennant announced the creation of a "nonpartisan voting rights protection coalition." The coalition intends to combat any legislation aimed at keeping people from the polls, she said.
Members of the AFL-CIO, ACLU, League of Women Voters, AARP and others joined Tennant during the press conference. The entire event was spent discussing the potential harm of requiring photo identification be shown in order to vote.
In a written statement distributed at the event, Tennant said the local effort was the result of national Republican groups "looking for solutions where there are not problems."
The chairmen of both the Senate and House judiciary committees said Wednesday they don't foresee any voter ID measures coming before them anytime soon.
"No, there are some other issues we've got to get through this session before we tackle that, and there's not another election until a year from now," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo said he thought he had heard the House was going to do something with the measure this session. There's been little talk about the topic on the Senate side, and he doesn't anticipate it coming up in the near future.
Voter identification was a part of the state GOP legislative agenda, and Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, mentioned the topic leading up to the session.
But so far, there are three bills before the House and Senate that specifically propose involving photo ID in the voting process. None has received any attention at the committee level.
Delegate Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, is the sponsor of a bill that would require voter ID cards to also contain the holder's photograph.