West Virginia Legislative Brief -March 17, 2017: Commentary
Welcome to the 2017 Legislative Brief, your one-stop shop for legislative news from a variety of sources throughout West Virginia, and my view of the legislative happenings on the horizon. Today marks the 38th day of the 60-Day Legislative Session.
Legislative Action by the Numbers:
1101 bills introduced in the House
630 bills introduced in the Senate
117 bills have passed the Senate and await House consideration
84 bills have passed the House and await Senate consideration
12 bills have completed legislative action and await the Governor's consideration
2 bills have been signed into law by the Governor
My View from the Capitol:
On Monday afternoon, the Republican leadership of the West Virginia Legislature unveiled its budget plan for Fiscal Year 2018. During a news conference, Senate President Mitch Carmichael and House Speaker Tim Armstead unveiled a plan that spends $4.055 billion, the amount West Virginia is currently estimated to raise based on existing tax levels.
To close the $450 million difference between revenue estimates and Governor Justice's budget that calls for spending $4.5 billion, the Legislature has proposed a series of spending cuts, reductions from the Governor's proposed budget, and disciplined spending measures. This amounts to a $277.7 million difference. The Legislature has stated they are committed to closing the remaining gap of $170 million by prioritizing spending in other areas of the budget, including DHHR, higher education, and public Education.
The Legislature has indicated its proposals will be amended into existing bills and that government must live within its means. Meanwhile, the Legislature was busy this week as the legislative clock is quickly winding down. The Senate met last Saturday and both Senate and House members will be meeting tomorrow to continue deliberations on pending bills.
Lastly, there will be a rally at the State Capitol next Tuesday promoted by various oil and gas industry trade associations as well as the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Manufacturer’s Association. The intent is to demonstrate the importance of the energy industry in our state.