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WV Legislative Update

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First this week, congratulations to all the successful candidates for public office in the Primary Election last Tuesday.  On a personal note, I deeply appreciate the support shown on Election Day.  As always, my goal is to have all my signs picked up on election night.  If I missed one, please let me know.

Meanwhile, I want to congratulate the residents of Gilmer County for their overwhelming renewal of multiple public service levies that make a huge difference in services to their citizens.  All the levies on the ballot passed by nearly 70% or more. 

The opportunity to enhance essential public services and also enjoy success in applying for competitive grants, funding and other awards is greatly improved when community support is evident.  This works for the betterment of everyone. 

Last week, I had the opportunity to have DOH Assistant Commissioner Robby Queen spend Thursday afternoon in the district to visit a few locations and discuss current, upcoming and needed projects, along with Brian Cooper, District 7 Engineer. During our discussions, we also were invited to attend the Braxton County Development Authority meeting to discuss the major interstate construction plans on I-79 this summer in Braxton County.

One phase of the project will necessitate the temporary closure - one at a time – of entrance and exit ramps at Exit 67 for a few hours while the original concrete surface is essentially pulverized and rebuilt from the base up.  The contractor will be working around the clock when the time comes to ensure the inconvenience will be brief on each ramp.  Dates have not been set, and the work will begin late evening to minimize the inconvenience.  This will involve lots of coordination with message boards, media and public information weeks in advance.  Provisions will be made for emergency vehicles.

A meeting for the businesses and public will be held in mid-June as construction dates are firmed up and a determination of what order each exit ramp will be rebuilt.  I want to stress that all the ramps will not be closed at the same time.  They will be done one at a time and working non-stop, which should limit closure to less than 24 hours for each ramp.

With the latest starting of major pipelines construction throughout central West Virginia and across the state, the issue of West Virginia jobs for West Virginia workers is a priority.  A few years ago when the Marcellus drilling boom was in high gear, there was no doubt a significant number of workers from the southwestern U.S. were filling many of the drilling jobs created.

While the current round of pipeline work is just beginning to unfold, it appears the number of West Virginia workers may be improved since a few years ago.  However, time will tell.  It is critical to our economy and state budget that our state contractors have a fair chance for these jobs and that all contractions endeavor to use our highly-skilled, safety-trained West Virginia workforce.

As for construction projects which involve state funding only verses projects that involve state and federal funding, the WV Division of Labor website offers a brief, but succinct explanation of the WV Jobs Act. It states, in part:

… the West Virginia Legislature enacted the West Virginia Jobs Act, which deems it necessary for those employers contracted to perform construction work on state funded public improvement projects, which equal or exceed $500,000.00 in cost, to hire 75% of their workers from the local labor market. The local labor market is defined as including every county within the State of West Virginia as well as any county outside of West Virginia, if any portion of that county is within 50 miles of the state border. 

There are certain exclusions to this requirement, which includes an exemption for projects that contain any amount of federal funding as well as an allowance for out-of-state contractors to bring two (2) of their own employees from outside the local labor market to work on the project and still remain in compliance.

It is important to note that the WV Jobs Act does not apply when federal funding is involved in a project, as is the case with many major road construction jobs now underway or being planned.

Whether it’s pipeline, road construction or any other project, in recent years the current legislative leadership has sought to weaken the protections for West Virginia workers.  The only way by which to monitor in-state verses out of state workers is to make certain payroll records can be reviewed and ascertain compliance on hiring, wages, etc. In one recent example: for years, a bridge painting contractor out of Florida flaunted the wage and worker rules, thereby depriving West Virginia companies and their West Virginia workers of the opportunity to make a fair living by underbidding all competitors.

That situation has now been resolved after a long, lengthy investigation.  In the meantime, hundreds of West Virginia jobs went to a questionable out-of-state contractor and their contingent of many undocumented or illegal foreign workers being paid under the table.  If we’re ever going to turn the corner economically in West Virginia, we can’t let our citizens get shortchanged.

Please send your inquiries to my home office:  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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