After a 60-day session amidst a pandemic, I think the biggest accomplishment of the session is that 134 individuals from all over the state were able to convene in close quarters and only one person became covid positive from a family encounter. What this demonstrates is that we as a society have learned how to live with this virus and can function with precautions. I tried to end the excessive reign of overreach from the executive branch with HB 2003. While all agree a state of emergency did exist for a period of time, 14 months with no checks and balances is too much power for any one person in government. The bill failed in the Senate and no compromise could be reached. Next, I helped draft a resolution ending most of the executive orders except the ones still needed such as the extension for paying taxes etc. and the Senate did not pass it. Our local Senators, Randy Smith and Dave Sypolt did support the efforts. So here we are 14 months later with one man controlling our every move except spending. HB 2014 did pass the Legislature and it strikes a more equal balance of power in state government by clarifying and ensuring legislative oversight of how federal dollars are spent. It will keep crucial funds during a crisis from being held back, earmarked, or dispersed in government silos that do not answer to WV taxpayers.
We also passed the $4,495,032,115 budget during the 60-day session as we have for the past few years. This budget is $75 m less than last year with no services to our residents being cut. This requires all bills with a fiscal impact be submitted early. Next year we will consider having the budget hearings in December prior to the start of session to allow even more time to discuss fiscal issues during session.
Another bill that passed this year which has been debated for some time is SB 275, an Intermediate Court of Appeals. 40 other states have this court as part of their system. While it has not been my goal to grow government, having a system of Justice in place to meet all the needs of our citizens is important. This court will consist of three Judges expected to take over cases involving administrative appeals, workers compensation and family court, allowing for more abuse and neglect cases to move through the Circuit Court. We know our court system here locally was so overwhelmed with abuse and neglect cases that another Judge was added. In the past individuals in our state had no true right to appeal their court decision unless the WV Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. Now, every individual has that right.
Another issue many of my constituents were worried about is federal overreach as it pertains to their second amendment rights. So, I sponsored HB 2694 which states the federal government cannot use local police to issue federal arrest warrants that relate ONLY to crimes of possession of firearms, firearm accessories, ammo, or under a federal red flag order. We also passed HB 2793 which allows out of state residents to obtain WV conceal carry permits and HB 2499 which is a tax reduction for arms and ammunition manufacturing in WV.
Over the next few weeks, I will update you on other legislative accomplishments. These are just a few relating to the session, courts and second amendment.
Delegate Amy Summers (304-641-1159 c, 304-842-7958 h, 98 Meadland Rd., Flemington, WV 26354, Email: [email protected])