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Tax & Budget
The Governor continued his roadshow to promote his personal income tax cut proposal, but the plan is going nowhere fast in the Senate. Despite its lack of headway, it’s still important to keep the pressure on legislators and tell them their priority should be getting our house in order to better support West Virginia families rather than pursuing dangerous tax cuts.
If you haven’t already, click here to send a message to your legislators now, and tell them: No tax cuts until our needs are met!
The Senate also opened an investigation into the transfer of $28.3 million in CARES Act funding into the Governor’s Gifts, Grants and Donations Fund, and a subsequent payment of $10 million from the Fund that went to Marshall University to support the construction of a new baseball stadium. The committee’s focus on the transfer follows a December Gazette-Mail report exposing the transfer. More here and here.
On Thursday, the House Finance Committee held a public hearing on the Governor’s proposal to divert $500 million of the $678 million remaining ARPA funds to the state Economic Development Authority. WV CAG joined partners and allies in urging lawmakers to put the brakes on the Governor’s reverse Robin Hood scheme and seek more input from their constituents on how the funds can be spent to help our communities. The Finance Committee hasn’t taken action on the bill yet, so there’s still time to share your concerns about the misuse of these funds, and let them know that we want them to invest in our communities rather than rubber stamping the Governor’s proposal. You can find contact information for the committee here. Talking points for comments are available here.
On Wednesday, the WV Coalition for Truth in History held a press conference to release a the results of a recent poll, which indicates young West Virginians are unhappy with the Legislature’s focus on divisive social issues to the point that a majority would at least consider leaving the state if the restrictive bills are passed and the trend continues. (Link to video of the press event via WV CAG’s Facebook page)
Legislators didn’t get the memo. On Friday, the House of Delegate passed a bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors despite vocal opposition from pastors, teachers, doctors, transgender West Virginians, their friends, family members and advocates. A public hearing on HB 2007 on Thursday, was the first time lawmakers heard from medical experts, even though the bill had already been passed by two committees. At the hearing, dozens of doctors, parents and LGBTQ West Virginians told lawmakers that the proposed ban would put children’s lives at risk. Mountain State Spotlight has more here on the devastating impacts this will have for transgender youth in West Virginia.
Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and everyone deserves the freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies and lives. If only the Legislature would focus on improving health care access, affordability and equity for all West Virginians, instead of taking away life-saving care from our most vulnerable.
On Friday the House also passed a bill (HB 2008) that would outlaw the adoption of so-called “sanctuary city” ordinances and force West Virginia counties and municipalities to expend local resources to enforce federal immigration law.
Other Bill Action
Last Monday saw passage of the WV Guardian Act (SB 282) and several other bills by the Senate. More here and here.
On Tuesday, the House debated and passed a bill (HB 2890) that supporters argued would provide a better education for all students by giving teachers and school administrators more leeway in dealing with discipline problems. Opponents of the bill say it would contribute to the state’s rising rate of suspensions and expulsions, which disproportionately impact Black students and students who are poor. More here and here.