Members of the West Virginia Legislature made their way to Charleston this week not only for their regularly scheduled interim meetings, but also for a newly declared special session. Governor Justice called the Legislature into its second extraordinary session of the year by issuing a proclamation on November 14, 2019.
The Governor’s proclamation called for the Legislature to convene starting at noon on Monday, November 18, 2019, which coincided with the already scheduled November interim meetings.
Just three pieces of legislation were up for consideration by the State Senate and the House of Delegates:
- Legislation extending tax credits for certain tourism development projects (SB 2001);
- Legislation limiting the expungement of state DUI offenses to those offenses consistent with federal expungement requirements (SB 2002); and,
- A supplemental appropriation bill amending existing appropriations to the West Virginia Division of Highways for the current fiscal year (SB 2003).
The latter two bills passed through both chambers on Monday, November 18, as lawmakers in both the House and the Senate voted to suspend the constitutional rule requiring bills be read on three separate days. Those pieces of legislation are now awaiting the Governor’s signature.
However, action on SB 2001 was delayed in the House of Delegates, as many members refused to suspend the rules amid questions that the proposed tax credits could benefit the Governor’s businesses. As a result, SB 2001 was passed by the Senate and advanced to Second Reading in the House of Delegates.
Rather than extending the special session at additional taxpayer expense, the House of Delegates adjourned subject to the call of the Speaker of the House, allowing for consideration of the bill to resume when lawmakers return for interim committee meetings on December 16 and 17.
Prior to adjourning Sine Die, the West Virginia Senate also confirmed several recent appointments made by Governor Justice. In all, the Senate confirmed 28 nominations to various state agencies, boards and commissions, including, but not limited to, the State Board of Education, Concord University Board of Governors, Glenville State Board of Governors and the School Building Authority.
In the midst of the special legislative session, members of the Legislature also completed three days of interim committee meetings, which started on Sunday with the Legislative Rule-Making Review Committee advancing 30 of 31 proposed legislative rules listed on the committee’s agenda.
Lawmakers also heard from presenters on wide-ranging topics, from prison overcrowding and solar energy development in the state to a review of the FY2020 budget and potential budget cuts. Interim meetings concluded on Tuesday, November 19, with the Joint Committee on Government and Finance receiving several reports and updates from state agencies, while the Joint Committee on Flooding continued discussion on the RISE WV program and possible legislation for the upcoming 2020 legislative session.
The Legislature will meet just once more in December, prior to the start of the 2020 Legislative Session on Wednesday, January 8.