West Virginia Legislature passes vaccine exemption bill, broadband development and new district map

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The Special Session called by Governor Justice on October 11th ended Wednesday, almost two weeks after it was called.

On Wednesday night at the House of Delegates chamber, the delegates were ready to go home.

But not before making some crucial votes.

The House approved the Senate’s district map, more funding appropriations were made, including a billion-dollar broadband development fund, and the Governor’s vaccine mandate exemptions bill also passed, although it won’t go into effect until 90 days.

House Majority Leader Amy Summers (R-Taylor) says they tried to make it effective from passage.

“So that those employees that have reached out to us, they’re going to lose their jobs in October or November, we tried to provide them with an opportunity to have some relief before January 20th, or before the bill goes into effect, so we are a little bit disappointed in that some of us,” she said.

Del. John Doyle (D-Jefferson) considers the timeframe a small victory.

“Because they were not able to get enough votes in the Senate for it to take effect immediately, it’s going to be 90 days before it takes effect and I believe sometime before then the federal government is going to pass some rules that essentially upend it,” he said.

Still, Summers says she’s not fazed by this.

“The minority party is making a very big deal that if the feds come out with rules, that we’re going to need to change what we’re doing, but we do this all the time in the legislature,” she said.

Before the voting began, Del. Evan Hansen (D-Monongalia) made remarks on the floor that he wants some members in the legislature to stop comparing vaccine mandates to nazi Germany.

“There are many types of atrocities that were perpetrated on people without their consent: medical experiments things like exposing people to chemical weapons so that they can test different treatments, or freezing people so that they can test people for hypothermia, or forcing them to drink seawater; things like that are very real and happened to lots and lots of people and they’re nothing like what’s going on with the vaccine mandates,” he told 13 News.

There was also discussion over who should take credit over the billion-dollar broadband development fund, with Del. Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio) saying to the floor it’s “political plagiarism” for republicans to take credit for it, since a lot of the money is coming from federal American Rescue Plan funds which republicans didn’t vote for.

The vaccine mandate exemptions bill is expected to go into effect in mid-January.

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