Thursday, June 24, 2021 the Legislature convened for the second special session of 2021 to appropriate funding from the budget surplus. All bills passed in a bipartisan manner.
While we have experienced a large surplus, I feel we need to be cautious and follow the revenue trend next year to ensure this was not a fluke due to the pandemic and various infusions of revenue. I supported all of the bills due to the one-time nature of the expenditure and the huge need for capital improvements. I am constantly surprised at how the state has neglected so many areas. We have seen it in our road expenditures. It is also apparent in many of our properties.
Senate Bill 2002 increases the appropriation to the Division of Natural Resources account for Capital Outlay – Parks by $42 million from the State General Revenue Fund for the fiscal year 2021. This allows for an expansion of state parks to accommodate guests. The bill passed the Senate 27-2 and the House 69-16.
Senate Bill 2003 increases the appropriation $6.2 million to the Department of Homeland Security for first responder’s death fund to pay families when the responder dies in the line of duty. It also included funding for the state interoperable radio network used by first responders.
Senate Bill 2005 transfers $30 million to the West Virginia Development Office within the Department of Commerce for the fiscal year 2021. The funds would be used to create a closing fund to attract more businesses to the state. The bill passed the Senate 25-0 and the House 74-12. Most other states have this fund and we are at a disadvantage without it. A location may be a good choice but then it does not have electricity for example. The closing fund could make that spend.
Senate Bill 2006 adds items of appropriation for the Civil Contingent Fund totaling $24.4 million from the State General Revenue Fund for the fiscal year 2021. The bill passed the Senate 25-0 and the House 62-24.
Senate Bill 2007 appropriated $2.1 million for capital improvements to the Cultural Center
Senate Bill 2008 paid the cost of the MARC train from WV to the state of Maryland $750,000
Senate Bill 2010 moves unappropriated monies totaling $24 million to the Department of Education’s State Board of Education School Construction Fund for the fiscal year 2022. The bill passed the Senate 25-0 and the House 78-11.
Senate Bill 2014 adds a new item of appropriation for the West Virginia Tourism Office of $5 million for the Tourism – Development Opportunity Fund for the fiscal year 2021. The bill passed the Senate 26-0 and the House 81-6.
Senate Bill 2015 appropriates $2 million to the Tax Department for capital infrastructure
Senate Bill 2016 transfers $50 million of unappropriated funds to the Revenue Shortfall Reserve Fund (aka Rainy-Day Fund) for the fiscal year 2021. The bill passed the Senate 24-5 and the House 82-7.
Senate Bill 2017 appropriated $58,701,585 million to items prioritized during the regular session in the budget bill should a surplus occur such as the Milton Flood Wall, Department of Commerce, and Universities and Colleges.
Senate Bill 2020 changes the times which alcohol may be sold in the state. Beer and wine may be sold beginning at 6 am. Liquor may be sold beginning at 8 am, except on Sundays when liquor sale can begin at 1 pm. The bill passed the Senate 19-8 and the House 59-20.
Senate Bill 2023 extends the freeze of $48.25 per day, per inmate through July 1, 2022. If this bill had not passed, then the daily rate counties would pay to house inmates at regional jails would increase by 14 percent to over $54. The bill also states that the rate be recalculated for July 2022. The bill passed the Senate 29-0 and the House 84-4.
Both the House and Senate offered resolutions (HCR 201 / SCR 201) to request the President of the United States to designate a single state funeral to be held upon the death of the last living Medal of Honor recipient of World War II. Hershel “Woody” Williams is the only remaining Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from WWII. Both resolutions were adopted.
The Legislature also adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 202, which urges the federal government to allocate $8 million for coal mine reclamation function to West Virginia.
To read the specific bills go to www.wvlegislature.gov. Both, the House and the Senate are adjourned sine die.
Delegate Amy Summers