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House leaders say calling special session “premature”


The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — House of Delegates leadership criticized Gov. Jim Justice for calling the special session Thursday, saying key bills were not ready for consideration.

In a news release calling it a “bungled special session start,” House Speaker Tim Armstead said calling the special session for Thursday was “premature.”

He also said the House had not received the governor’s main tax increase bill when they gaveled in Thursday morning.

“The governor knew the votes were not there to pass his tax increases, and that calling this special session today was premature,” Armstead said. “Now we’re here in Charleston wasting $35,000 a day and don’t even have the key bill we need to consider.”

Armstead criticized the governor, saying he “is still in back-room negotiations to come up with key provisions of the bill, all the while keeping all 134 members of the Legislature here at the expense of taxpayers.”

Majority Leader Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, reiterated that leadership did not get the key bills.

“If there’s one thing we know taxpayers hate, it’s seeing the Legislature sitting around wasting time in special session,” Cowles said in the news release. “This governor campaigned on limiting the time we could spend in special session, and now we’re here in Charleston sitting on our hands because he hasn’t even submitted the key bills we’re supposed to consider.”

House Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, said it is a “colossal waste of time and taxpayer money.”

House Finance Chairman Delegate Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha

“We’ve wanted to talk about these items over the last couple of weeks, but the governor shut the door in our faces. Now he’s called us back into session and we learn there are still issues to work out.”

The news release went on to say that there are technical issues with the roads and teacher pay raise bills that need to be fixed.

“We have heard that the Division of Highways needs the Legislature to fix language in one of the bills affecting them, and that there are technical issues with the teacher pay raise bill,” Armstead said. “The House of Delegates was already strongly opposed to the issues to be brought up in this special session, and felt it was a waste of time and taxpayer money, to begin with. Forcing us to waste even more time while issues are ironed out behind the scenes is simply inexcusable and I’m sorry the taxpayers of this state have to pay for this administration’s incompetence.”

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