Having passed the one-third mark, the legislative session is picking up pace. Bills are moving more swiftly from one house to the other, the daily floor sessions are growing longer and the debates sometimes a bit more heated.
While the House has passed more than 30 bills and sent them to the Senate for consideration, the elephant in the room remains the state budget.
Governor Justice has offered two different proposals for overcoming the $500 million shortfall, but it is clear that many members do not agree with his approach, and I am eager to hear what the House Finance Committee is considering.
Whatever the solution to this budget crisis, difficult choices must be made. Already, Gov. Justice has asked the Legislature for the authority to furlough state employees, which he knows will result in a lengthy battle.
The Governor, noting the 2016 budget controversy which ended with a 17-day special session that cost $600,000, is also calling for legislation to limit legislators’ extended special compensation to five days.
I agree. Limiting the amount of paid special session days would help keep political gamesmanship at bay and force all legislators to remain focused on passing a fiscally responsible state budget.
So far, much of my committee time has been spent in Government Organization, where our primary task has been determining which, if any, agencies or commissions should be cut or completely eliminated.
I am lead sponsor on five pieces of legislation, four of which have been assigned bill numbers:
* House Bill 2616 – providing a middle-class tax cut
* House Bill 2625 – Returning Veterans/Displaced Coal Miners Jobs Act
* House Bill 2659 – to reinstate area wages
* House Bill 2772 – requiring certain structural welds be inspected
You can follow these bills and all other legislation this session by clicking on the “Bill Status” tab on the legislative web site: www.wvlegis.state.wv.us , where there is also a link to live broadcasts of committee meetings and floor sessions.
As your representative, I’d welcome your input on how you think we should move forward. My office number is 304-340-3146 and my email is Scott.Brewer@wvhouse.gov .
Thank you for your trust and support.
Delegate Scott Brewer, WV House of Delegates, 13th District
Scott Brewer (D-New Haven), represents the 13th District in the West Virginia House of Delegates.