Democrats and Republicans spar over progress at West Virginia Capitol

West Virginia
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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — Some Democrats in the State House are taking issue with the speed – or lack of – for bills moving through the legislature. They are calling for final action on foster care reform, dealing with homelessness, drug prevention and poverty. The annual 60-day session is nearly half-over.

“So we feel like time is unfortunately running out this Legislative Session, and it’s time to act on our West Virginia values now. So we want to use this time to drill down on some specific public policy proposals,” said State Sen. Stephen Baldwin, (D) Greenbrier.

One of the biggest priorities, is raising the monthly subsidies for foster care and kinship care families.

“So right now if you are a kinship family, you can have up to six kids, but the maximum amount you can receive a month is about $288 dollars,” said Del. Amanda Estep-Burton, (D) Kanawha.

By comparison, Foster families get $600 a month. Republicans say they are on board on foster care, with wide bi-partisan support, but they are still trying to get specific numbers on what it will all cost.

“We have put a big focus on our foster care children in the last couple of years, and are working towards improving that system for those children. But we have to have the budget hearing before we can proceed with that,” said Del. Amy Summers, (R) Taylor – Majority Leader.

And ultimately, GOP leaders predict foster care reform will pass.

“Oh, definitely, definitely,” said Majority Leader Amy Summers.

Some estimates put the price tag on foster care fixes at $16 million dollars.

“While Democrats are critical that only four bill have passed the Legislature so far, Republican leaders say that is fairly typical and they expect a flurry of activity in the final ten days. Right now there are 32 days left in the legislative session,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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