WV House has bipartisan majority asking Justice for special session on CARES Act funding

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A letter to Gov. Jim Justice dated July 15th asking for a special session to distribute CARES Act funds has fallen on deaf ears.

It was signed by 60 members of the house — both Democrat and Republican — a rare feat in West Virginia.

“The constitution of West Virginia gives the power of the purse to the legislature for a reason, because we’re the closest to the people and we know how to best help the people in our district,” said Delegate Mike Pushkin, (D) Kanawha.

Delegate Mike Pushkin says the $1.25 billion in federal dollars should be going to small businesses, schools and service workers.

“Right now nobody’s being helped while the governor sits on that money,” Pushkin said.

“That money was not sent here to fix holes in roads or holes in his budget, that money was sent here to help struggling West Virginians.

The Governor has repeatedly said there will be no special session.

Delegate Joshua Higginbotham (R) Putnam, is one of the Republicans who signed the letter. He says there are many reasons why more than 60 members of the house signed it.

“For me and many other Republicans it was the fact that churches and small businesses can get sued if a customer or an employee catches the coronavirus, we want legal protection, we want liability protections,” he said.

Higginbotham says he thinks the governor is doing a good job handling the pandemic and is entitled to his extra emergency powers, but he still wants a special session.

The letter addressed to the governor reads: “To begin you declared a state of emergency on March 16, 2020, which, by doing so, gives you broad, unilateral authority. We believe four months is too long for any one person to have such authority without appropriate legislative input.”

Pushkin says he worries that money will be used to sway the upcoming election.

“It can get political when one politician has that much control over that much money in an election year,” he said.

A majority of 3/5th is also needed in the Senate for a special session to occur.

The West Virginian Republican-controlled Senate has not expressed wanting one.

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