Working Through the Weekend

The Legislature worked over the weekend to move bills ahead of Wednesday’s crossover deadline. As has been the case these past sessions, more bad bills are moving than ones we’d like to see pass. The majority party has finally dispensed with much of the standard operating procedures and are resorting to parliamentary short cuts, single committee assignments, and suspension of rules on a regular basis in order to push their agenda through with a minimum amount of fuss from the minority party or the pesky citizens that want to have a say in the policies that impact their lives…

At this writing, several controversial bills are moving, along with a few good ones. Others remain stalled in committee. 

  • The compromise tax giveaway was passed the Senate Finance Committee Saturday with zero discussion, reported to the floor, where they suspended rules and sent it onto the House. They also passed their version of the budget, which after adjusting for inflation is $777 million less than the 2019 state budget, and 10% less than the Governor’s proposed budget for FY 2024. To pay for their tax cut, they cut Medicaid and social services together by about $500 million. Take action here and tell them we need a budget that reflects our priorities: investments in programs that benefit all West Virginians, not tax cuts for the wealthiest. No tax cuts until our needs are met!
  • The Religious Freedom Restoration Act or License to Discriminate Act, HB 3042, was the subject of a public hearing in the House on Friday, and only to be passed on Monday.
  • DHHR is likely to be split up into three separate agencies under a bill (HB 2006) intended to make it more accountable and better managed, if the Governor chooses to sign it. Meanwhile nearly 1,500 foster families are facing severe financial fallout from having their state checks delayed. (ICYMI: With the break up pending, Mountain State Spotlight did a deep dive on the agency, what its jobs are and several issues it struggles to address.)
  • The Affordable Medicaid Buy-In bill (HB 3274) passed the House on Saturday, ahead of crossover, and will now be considered in the Senate. 🙂
  • Another good health care bill, the $35 cap on Insulin copays (SB 577) passed the Senate and is now in the House Health Committee. See Kim’s article for actions you can take to help get these bills across the finish line.
  • Keeping PFAS, those forever chemicals, out of our drinking water is the focus of (HB 3189) which passed the House on Friday! It’s now in the Senate Government Organization Committee.
  • Community Solar is not looking like it will crossover by Wednesday as neither body has even taken it up in a committee. 🙁(Climate Eye is on hiatus for this edition. In the meantime, visit the WV Environmental Council and WV Rivers Coalition websites for the latest environmental updates.)
  • Families who rely on SNAP (food stamps) to make ends meet will have more loose ends if HB 3484 passes. This on top of the loss of pandemic bump in SNAP that ends March 1st. For now the bill is on hold on the House inactive calendar.
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