We have passed the half way point of the 2nd Session of the 82nd Legislature and in the House we have passed 39 Bills, and all but two of them have had support from Republicans and Democrats. The two that were passed with only Republican support are the Workplace Freedom bill and the Repeal of the Prevailing Wage. I have covered why I supported both bills in previous columns (jobs and accountability) but this week they faced another vote, an override of the Governor’s veto that made them both law. If the Governor vetoes a bill, a simple majority in the House and in the Senate can vote to pass the bill into law anyway and that occurred on Friday, making WV the 26th Right to Work State.
This week we also saw 68 Delegates vote to approve the Constitutional Carry bill, allowing those that can presently Open Carry to do so without the gun being visible; 98 Delegates approved the Romney School for the Deaf and Blind to be eligible for School Building Authority funding; and 72 Delegates vote in favor of Restoring Religious Freedoms. This bill is not a discrimination bill as some have portrayed it but it puts into State Code what exists on a Federal level already. It ensures that those with deeply held religious beliefs can shield themselves from State action in Court. It gives the court a balancing test to determine when State’s interest or individual beliefs shall take precedent. It has been used three times in WV since 1966, where the Court found that a Jehovah’s Witness’s refusal to sit on a jury did not harm the State. It was also used in 1981 and most recently 1988 when Universal Life Church preachers got their day in court for refusing a marriage blood test but did not prevail as the Court ruled the State’s interest in protecting from syphilis was to be up held. In the 32 States that have similar laws, it has been applied 147 times in the past 23 years since President Clinton signed the Federal Law. 3I voted in favor of these three bills.)
We still have much to do. The Finance Committee has one more day of budget hearings and wrapping up the 2015/2016 shortfalls. It will then be working on the estimated $466M shortfall for 2016/2017 including the PEIA Health Insurance issue. We are also working on Education proposals, drug treatment proposals, bringing new business to the State, and a plethora of other issues. As always you can reach me at 304-397-0646, via email at [email protected], or Facebook.com/Delegate.Michel.G.Moffatt or Twitter @Moffatt4DelWV22.