Taking a look at the highs and lows of West Virginia’s 2021 legislative session

Inside West Virginia Politics

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — On this week’s Inside West Virginia Politics, many government officials wrap up the 2021 legislative session, including discussing Gov. Jim Justice’s personal income tax reduction plan and how it failed to pass through the House with 0 yeas to 100 nays.

The highlights of the 2021 legislative session

In Segment 1, Del. Roger Hanshaw (R) Clay, Speaker of the House, discusses the highlights of the West Virginia 2021 legislative session, including:

  • Passing state budgeting within 60 days with no extra expense to taxpayers
  • Passing a state bill that creates an immediate court of appeals, 
  • The 0 – 100 vote that rejected Gov. Jim Justice’s personal income tax deduction bill, 
  • expansion of previous bills to allow more telehealth and improvements on internet access in West Virginia. 

‘Could have done more’ Some lowlights from the 2021 legislative session

In Segment 2, Minority Leader Del. Doug Skaff (D), Kanawha, gives thoughts on how the 2021 legislative session went this year.

According to Skaff, the House and Senate “could have done more” for specific bills, including giving women equal pay and investing in higher education for young people.

Highlights of the session include pushing for “West Virginians First,” which would make the focus on current West Virginians in the state.

Skaff also says he expects a special session to take place later in the year to address the Gov. Justice’s personal state income tax plan.

Gov. Justice speaks out about his personal income tax bill being rejected

In Segment 3, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice declined an interview to discuss his personal state income tax elimination proposal.

Over the last week, the governor spoke out about its rejections during his COVID-19 press briefing, especially while discussing a new remote worker program to attract new residents to the Mountain State.

The lowlights of the 2021 legislative session

In Segment 4, State Senator Mike Woelfel (D), Cabell, and Minority Whip in the West Virginia Senate discusses some of the lowlights of the 2021 legislative session.

The State Senator says a lowlight was the lack of transparency during the session due to the Capitol building being closed. “Citizens have a constitutional right to be present, to address their grievances with this legislators, [and] to peaceably assemble,” said Woelfel. “Keeping the public out was bad policy. It looked bad — it was bad.”

Another lowlight Woelfel discussed was the budget cuts to higher education, specifically to Marshall University and West Virginia University. He also says they’ve disrespected public education Pre-K – 12 by now funding for-profit public charter schools and allowing private schools to have vouchers. “All of this sucks money from our public education, which wasn’t in great shape to start with.”

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