2016 Legislative Session Hits Its Half-Way Mark
This Week at the Capitol: Session at Half-Way Mark
"Right-to-Work" and Prevailing Wage
On Thursday, Governor Tomblin vetoed both the repeal of the prevailing wage and the Right To Work bill. Today, both the House and Senate voted to override both vetoes. Both measures now become law.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed SB 6 to establish a three-year pilot program to drug test TANF recipients. The bill has passed the House Health and Human Resources Committee and is now under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee. Similar measures passed in other states have proven to be costly and ineffective. Here's more in Sean's blog post and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
Voter ID Requirements
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee passed HB 4013 which would require voters to present a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. This law has failed to pass in previous legislative sessions. While it is intended to eliminate voter fraud, the larger problem with voting in West Virginia is low participation. Here's more on this "solution waiting for a problem."
Balanced Budget Amendment & U.S. Constitutional Convention
There have been five pieces of legislation introduced calling upon Congress to hold a Constitutional Convention, HB 4449, HB 2424, SCR 4, SCR 10 and HCR 36. These resolutions and bills range from a call to overturn Citizens United to a call creating a Compact of States for a Balanced Budget. While none of these pieces of legislation has moved so far, this week House Judiciary Chair Delegate Shott created a subcommittee to review them and decide on a version for the full committee to consider.
None of the versions offers guidance for opening up the U.S. Constitution to a convention. Should any of these versions pass it could create a free-for-all Constitutional Convention opening up the Constitution to any amendments, beyond the (mis)intended purpose of balancing the federal budget.
Confronting the Fiscal Gap
Next week, the WVCBP will release its annual report on the governor's proposed budget. Next year's budget must tackle a $466 million shortfall and the governor plans to do that by dipping into the state's Rainy Day Fund, cutting the budgets of state agencies and raising taxes on tobacco and telecommunications.
This will still leave the state with many unmet needs that require additional revenue in order to improve the state's long-term growth and fiscal health.
Among the hardest hit programs in recent years has been the state's colleges and universities whose funding has been cut over $100 million since 2008 (adjusting for inflation). In response, tuition at West Virginia's four-year colleges has grown by over 32 percent, shifting costs to students and forcing higher education institutions to cut programs and staffing. Here's more in the Daily Atheneaum.
To Create Jobs, Invest at Home
Continued from last week....If legislators want to create jobs, they should invest in West Virginia's schools and infrastructure, instead of cutting taxes to attract out-of-state companies. A report released last week by the Center on Budget and Policy shows that, from 1995 to 2013, about 87 percent of private-sector job creation in a typical state was "home grown," coming from startups, the expansion of employment at existing establishments, and the creation of new in-state locations by businesses already headquartered in the state. In contrast, jobs that move into one state from another typically represent only 1 to 4 percent of total job creation each year.
February 20: Early Bird Deadline to Register for Try This Conference
Are you working for a healthier West Virginia? This conference is for you!
Meet people from all over the state who are doing great things in their communities. Trade ideas - Join forces - Get inspired - Learn - Plan next steps - Help build a statewide movement!
Forty workshops! From farmers markets and school gardens to bicycling and running programs to school-based health centers and parks, we've got great workshop leaders who really know their stuff! (2016 list coming in April.)
Affordable cost! SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE!
Mini-grant program. If you come to the conference, you can get grants to help make your healthier-community idea happen!
Team building! Come with others from your community so you can brainstorm and plan in a stimulating, idea-filled atmosphere.
For more details, go to the Try This Conference web page.