Budget Beat - February 20, 2015
Bill to Drug Test TANF Recipients Passes First Committee
The 2015 Legislative Session is now more than halfway over and there are several measures we are keeping an eye on that would impact West Virginia's working families.
Yesterday the House held a public hearing on legislation that would require drug testing of Temporary Assistant to Needy Families (TANF) recipients.
No one spoke in favor of the bill but several testified against it, including WVCBP fiscal policy analyst Sean O'Leary. Read more in the Charleston Daily Mail and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. Watch a recap of yesterday's hearing here.
Sean's blog post cites how ineffective and expensive such testing has been in other states. Many speakers also said the bill would be unconstitutional under the 4th Amendment.
Despite lack of support for it at the public hearing, the bill passed the House Health and Human Resources Committee yesterday and now makes it way to House Finance.
Paid Sick Days Bill Introduced
The Earned Sick Time Act was introduced today in the Senate. The bill would allow employees to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked. Currently over 260,000 West Virginians do not have access to a single paid sick day to take care of themselves or family members during illness.
Ohio Governor John Kasich visited West Virginia this week to ask lawmakers to pass a resolution calling for a constitutional convention to pass a balanced budget amendment.
Senate Concurring Resolution 13 would do just that. SCR 21, which passed out of the Senate Interstate Cooperation Committee this week, would impose federal fiscal restraints and call for term limits.
For much more on why these are bad ideas for our economy and our democratic process, read this blog post by Betty Rivard and Ted Boettner. There's more in this AP article and in this week's Daily Mail.
Right to Work Legislation Introduced
Legislation to make West Virginia a Right to Work state has been introduced in both the House and Senate. The measure would effectively end collective bargaining in the state.
Here's an excerpt from Ted's op-ed on why Right to Work is not something West Virginia working families need:
The new Republican Legislature is looking to end free bargaining in West Virginia by adopting a so-called "right-to-work" (RTW) law that aims to cut wages and benefits for the state's working families.
This is the last thing West Virginia needs. The state already has the highest share of low-wage jobs in the country and efforts to make this worse should be stopped.
The principle aim of RTW laws is to diminish the ability of workers to collectively bargain freely without the interference of government. This is precisely why Milton Friedman, the godfather of "free market economics," adamantly opposed RTW laws.
Under RTW, it would be illegal for a union and a business to freely enter into a contract that requires every employee to pay for the benefits they are receiving under the agreement. This means that if a worker who does not pay a union representation fee is fired, the law requires that the union represent that worker through an appeals process. Non-dues paying workers would also receive other substantial benefits like workplace protections and higher wages and benefits.
Undoing Racism Workshop Accepting Applications - Deadline is February 27
An Undoing Racism Workshop will be held April 8-10, 2015 at the Pope John XXIII Pastoral Center, 100 Hodges Road, Charleston, WV. It is sponsored by American Friends Service Committee and led by: the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond.
Workshop Description: The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond focuses on understanding what racism is, where it comes from, how it functions, why it persists and how it can be undone. Our workshops utilize a systemic approach that emphasizes learning from history, developing leadership, maintaining accountability to communities, creating networks, undoing internalized racial oppression and understanding the role of organizational gate keeping as a mechanism for perpetuating racism.
Workshop registration information is available here. Applications are due February 27.
Questions? Please contact Lida Shepherd at (304) 356-8428 or Lshepherd@afsc.org.