CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — And with the sound of the gavel, the 2020 West Virginia Legislative Session is now underway. There is a long list of items to address. They include the state’s opioid crisis, and overwhelmed child protection workers who are juggling the cases of 7,000 kids to in the foster care system.
“That are being raised by other relatives, other than their birth parents. Grandparents and things like that,” said Del. Rodney Miller, (D) Boone.
There will be also lots of talk about providing millions of dollars to fix beat-up secondary roads across the Mountain State.
“The Department of Highways workers have worked tirelessly, with the money they have, but we have extensive work still to be done in our county,” said Del. Lisa Zukoff, (D) Marshall.
And there will be bipartisan efforts to greatly expand broadband internet access for business, education and health care.
“To get fiber networks to industrial developments and residential areas and the more under served rural areas of our state,” said Del. Danny Hamrick, (R) Harrison.
The biggest issue is just how much money the state will have for all this, and whether the up-and-down fossil fuel economy will bounce back and generate more severance taxes.
“So that we can have a viable natural gas industry and continued growth on that. The coal markets seem to be in the same situation,” said Del. Vernon Criss, Vice Chairman, (R) Wood – Finance Committee.
Right now the state is looking at a 33-million dollar budget deficit in the first six months of this fiscal year.
“One of the goals of this year is to get the budget done by day 50 or the 60-day session, so there is no need for an expensive special session, to get final budget approved,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.