Week seven of the legislative session also coincided with National FFA week!
On Monday the House of Delegates passed HCR79 to recognize the West Virginia FFA organization. The West Virginia FFA has over 6,000 members statewide which are receiving some of the most premier leadership and career training of any youth organization. I was introduced to the FFA program after I was adopted and moved to West Virginia. During that time in my life, I certainly needed the many positive aspects of this youth leadership organization.
The motto of the FFA organization, “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve”. What a powerful vision statement for our youth! We need more young leaders in our state and in our country! In the FFA I was taught about work ethic and dedication to personal development. I also was exposed to career training and public speaking opportunities throughout the state. I would highly recommend every parent encourage their child to become an active part of this great organization.
I was glad to stand before the entire House of Delegates and speak in favor of HB4344. The bill addresses several areas of need relating to foster care and the WV DHHR. I have worked with several other lawmakers to see issues facing our DHHR addressed. This bill calls for an outward facing data dashboard of vital statistics relating to our foster care crisis. Further, the bill will provide for a review of the centralized intake process and ensure that the WV DHHR is operating above the national standard. Finally, HB4344 would provide for a 15% pay raise for all DHHR direct service workers. In Mason and Jackson Counties the DHHR vacancy rate is over 50%! This is untenable. I am an advocate of this pay raise to help our DHHR workers because I realize they are the first line of help for over 7,000 kids in foster care who depend on them.
Lastly, another topic that received much discussion this week was a locality pay raise for State Police officers. The bill currently being considered by the House of Delegates would provide a $10,000 pay raise for State Police officers who work in the eastern panhandle of our State. While I understand the need for these few officers to receive a pay raise, I must admit I am disappointed that we are not doing this for ALL State Police officers. I have been contacted by numerous officers who have asked their pay discrepancy be addressed. I want to see a pay raise for all officers, not JUST those in the eastern panhandle. Currently the State Police in WV make on average $20,000 less that State Police officers in our surrendering states. This must be addressed if we are going to continue to recruit and retain great officers.
We only have two weeks of the regular legislative session left in 2022. I will continue to do my best to serve you with dedication and commitment to make our State and our communities the best place to live, work and raise a family.
Until next week, Keep Smiling!
Delegate Jonathan Pinson (R) represents the 13th District in the West Virginia House of Delegates.