As 2016 Legislative Session Wraps up, Budget Gap Deepens
Recap of the 2016 Legislative Session
As the dust settles from the 2016 Legislative Session, here's a look at some of the bills that were passed, and some that weren't.
Here are some highlights:
The legislature passed, and the governor signed, HB 4013 that requires voters to present an ID to vote. While voter ID laws have been shown to do more to suppress turnout than to stop cases of voter impersonation, the bill that emerged was quite watered down. It also established a "Motor Voter" program where anyone getting a driver's license would automatically be registered to vote.
On Friday, the House passed HCR 36 which calls for opening up the U.S. Constitution for the purpose of passing a Balanced Budget Amendment. On Saturday, the last day of the session, the Senate took up HCR 36 and passed it as well. This makes West Virginia the 28th state to pass such a resolution. 34 states must take similar action in order for Congress to be petitioned to call an Article V Convention.
Once a convention occurs, 38 states would have to approve any amendments passed. Here's more on this dangerous resolution.
Thank you to the staff of the ACLU-WV and to Betty Rivard for all of your help with outreach and education on this important issue.
For much more on what bills made it through the session, check out Sean's blog post for a full recap.
Budget Bumped to Special Session
As per tradition, legislators met this week, immediately following the end of the regular session, to work out differences between the budget bills passed by the House and Senate. Legislators were not able to agree on a budget bill and it is expected that Governor Tomblin will call a special session some time in April. The fiscal year that the budget would cover begins July 1.
On Tuesday, Governor Tomblin's office released revised revenue figures that show the state's budget gap has grown even larger than previous projections. Revenues are down an additional $92 million, for a total of $239 million. Since the governor has vowed to veto any budget bill that takes money from the Rainy Day Fund, and the House of Delegates has refused to consider any tax increases, this could be a very interesting special session. Here's much more in Ted's blog post including some much-needed solutions to this worsening situation.
Federal Assistance for Coalfield Communities
This week the Obama Administration announced $65.8 million in funding is available from its Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) program.
According to the ARC, the goal is "to develop new strategies for economic growth and worker advancement for communities that have historically relied on the coal economy for economic stability."
Funds are available for:
- Developing projects that diversify local and regional economies, create jobs in new and/or existing industries, attract new sources of job-creating investment and provide a range of workforce services and skills training;
- Building partnerships to attract and invest in the economic future of coal-impacted communities;
- Increasing capacity and other technical assistance fostering long term economic growth and opportunity in coal-impacted communities.
For more information, or to apply, go here.
RECLAIM Act Aims to Help Coalfields
Late last year, Representative Evan Jenkins cosponsored the RECLAIM Act and this week he posted this column on his website to explain what the Act would do and how this bipartisan bill would help struggling coalfield families.
The RECLAIM Act: Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More, is sponsored by by Congressmen Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Evan Jenkins (R-WV.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), and Morgan Griffith (R-Va.).
It would release $1 billion, $200 million a year for five years, from the Abandoned Mine Lands fund to assist Appalachian communities hard hit by job losses in the coal industry.
Spread the Word: Apply Now for SPI 2016!
Join us for the first-ever Summer Policy Institute this July at West Virginia Wesleyan College!
Applications are due April 1, 2016.
For more information, please call Tara at 304-720-8682 or go here.