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WV Legislative Update

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As I write this Sunday evening, the snow is falling quickly.  I’m always skeptical of snowfall predictions, as they’re seldom accurate these days, despite the technology.  Whether snow or rain, I’m ready for some time to let the hills and valleys have some time to absorb and dry out.  With roads and ditches needing attention, we can ill afford another hit and miss construction and maintenance season for 2019.  Critical and time sensitive projects are all around the district.

Needless to say, heading into this final week of the legislative session, delegates, senators and staff are hitting the home stretch with regular session adjournment this Saturday, March 9 at midnight. After that, it’s up to the Governor for setting any agenda items.  The House passed our version of the budget (HB 2020) last Saturday afternoon.  After the Senate completes their version (SB 150), a conference committee will be appointed later this week to work out the differences in the two versions.  At this time, the differences are deep and wide, even though the overall numbers come in at near $4.66 billion for general revenue in both. 

While the budget is always a mixed bag, I supported the budget as it was presented in the House.  However, that may change, depending on what is added or deleted when the conference committee is appointed, completes their work, and the bill is up for final passage.

I am pleased that our version has a modest increase the appropriation to Glenville State College to $6.45 million.  Further, the House version includes an additional $500,000 for GSC from the projected budget surplus at the end of the fiscal year. This is a substantial improvement over the pitiful funding formula that was devised by some voting members of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education.  Hopefully, our Senate delegation can hold or improve on that amount.

Also, an additional $300,000 in surplus is included to offset costs for increased food distribution through the WV Department of Agriculture for Mountaineer Food Bank and Facing Hunger Food Bank.  This will help offset transportation costs associated with the additional surplus foods that are arriving for hungry and needy West Virginians through distribution to local food pantries.

We have also proposed funding to increase the reimbursement rates to Senior Citizen Centers for delivered and congregate meals.  Additionally, included in the lottery surplus section is $1 million in one-time funding to replace the aging fleet of hot/cold meal delivery trucks with new, more efficient vehicles.  Many of these vehicles are over a decade old, with high mileage and ever-increasing maintenance costs to keep them on the road.  Again, we will see what emerges from the budget conference.

Some major items still pending, a few of which include:

  • SB 1 – the bill that provides “last dollar in” funding for community and technical colleges, including 2-year associate or technical degrees from state-supported colleges and universities.
  • HB 2001 – this bill exempts Social Security benefits from WV State income tax.  It still awaits action in the Senate Finance Committee
  • HB 3095 - Establishing a minimum monthly retirement annuity for certain retirees.  Passed the House and should pass the Senate early this week.
  • HB 2730 - Increasing the compensation of the membership of the State Police and the salaries for public school teachers and school service personnel.  This bill is double referenced in the Senate to Education; then Finance.

And, still no meaningful long-term funding for PEIA. The PEIA committee appointed by the Governor has yet to issue their final report.

Finally, it’s no secret that the Capitol is much like a pressure cooker under the dome during each session.  As time goes by and as the end of the 60-day session approaches, tensions between members grow; desires for certain bills pass or fail becomes intense; and unfortunately, sometimes tempers flare.  That was the case last week in a twenty-four-hour series of events that brought disrespect to the institution and our State.  Moreover, much of it has been brewing for several weeks.  I trust Speaker Hanshaw will do the right thing and help everyone to move on and complete the work that lies before us.  Having today as a day of rest and reflection, I hope members will remember they are sent there to serve our citizens in a manner that respects everyone and with conduct that is appropriate.  We cannot allow Washington, DC turmoil, partisan rancor, and divisive behavior to take root in West Virginia. 

During the legislative session, please send your inquiries to the Capitol office: State Capitol Building 1, Room 258 M, Charleston, WV 25305. My office telephone number is 304.340.3142; Please send your inquiries to my home office as well:  151 Park Street, Gassaway, WV 26624.  My home number is 304.364.8411; the Capitol office number is 304.340.3142.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative e-mail address is:

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/.  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at www.wv.gov. Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at twitter.com/wvlegislature.

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

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