Some essential frontline workers in West Virginia feel the Legislature and governor are listening to them more this year, but that hasn’t translated into long-term solutions for their woes. Meanwhile, lawmakers rejected a plan to give them more oversight over a state office that’s spending huge amounts of federal money. That and more in this week’s legislative roundup.
Reporter Quenton King explained this week how many of the problems facing county emergency medical services aren’t being addressed by West Virginia lawmakers, after Quenton detailed last fall how the pandemic worsened those problems.
Although EMS leaders said they consider this session a step forward as compared with previous years, they’re still dealing with low salaries, lots of vacancies and a general lack of funding. As one county EMS director put it, at “what point are we going to end up having to shut down a truck?”
This week, reporter Douglas Soule told us, lawmakers decided to keep accountability for broadband internet companies in West Virginia, but not for the new state office dealing with those companies.
Douglas has been following the bill in question, and says the bill’s sponsor, Delegate Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, still believes there needs to be an oversight committee for the Office of Economic Development. That office will be overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money, with more to come.
Also on the Tracker this week, Ian Karbal reported on West Virginia’s version of the “critical race theory” bill – a term that Ian notes has essentially lost its original meaning, and is now used to label any teachings about race that might make students uncomfortable. And Amelia Ferrell Knisely reported that a bill to feed students on days their schools are closed had overwhelmingly passed the House.
As this year’s regular legislative session winds down, action on bills may happen fast. You can use our Capitol Tracker to keep a watch on those bills you think are important, and read updates from our reporters on the bills they’re following.
And it’s never too late for a crash course in the inner workings of the Legislature. If you sign up today for our Power and Possums newsletter course, you’ll get one newsletter a day for six days, and be done just in time for the end of the regular session on March 12.
| MetroNews reported on the House of Delegates version of next year’s state budget. The House budget includes cutting the state personal income tax, unlike the Senate and governor’s versions of the budget.
| MetroNews also reported on a move by the House Finance Committee to insert a surprise $10,000 raise for State Police troopers into the state budget for next year.
| The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on the apparent demise of a bill that would have limited places where shelters for the homeless could be located.
| The Gazette-Mail also reported on a bill that would have significantly weakened the enforcement powers of the state Office of Mine Health, Safety and Training.
| The Gazette-Mail also reported on a bill that would, for the second year in a row, revamp the way oil and gas wells are valued for property tax assessments.