After the dust from the 2018 election settled, it was reported 47.93% of registered West Virginia voters cast their ballots. This was the greatest turnout in recent memory.
The republican majority in the West Virginia Legislature maintained control of both houses. The 84th Legislature will be composed of 20 Republicans and 14 Democrats in the Senate, and 59 Republicans and 41 Democrats in the House of Delegates.
There will be over 20 new members in the House and four (4) new members in the Senate.
The Legislature will meet for January Interim Committee Meetings January 6, 7 and 8, 2019. The 84th Legislature is constitutionally mandated to begin on the second Wednesday in January, which will be the Ninth (9th).
Governor Jim Justice will present his State of the State address and proposed budget the evening of January 9.
The 35th day of the legislative session — February 12 — is the last day to introduce bills in the House of Delegates. The last day to introduce bills in the Senate is the 41st day — February 18.
The 50th day or “cross-over day” is February 27, which is the last day for either chamber to consider bills originating from the house of origin. The Legislature will adjourn Saturday, March 9 — the 60th day. However, as in the past with some frequency, the Legislature can extend itself beyond the 60th day to act on its budget.
Delegate Roger Hanshaw will preside as Speaker of the House of Delegates. The following are his leadership team: Speaker Pro Tempore – Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan; Majority Leader – Amy Summers, R-Taylor; Asst. Majority Leader – Kayla Kessinger, R-Fayette; Majority Whip – Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson; Judiciary Chairman – John Shott, R-Mercer; Judiciary Vice Chairman – Moore Capito, R-Kanawha; Finance Chairman – Eric Householder, R-Berkeley; Finance Vice Chairman – Vernon Criss, R-Wood; Education Chairman – Danny Hamrick, R-Harrison; Education Vice Chairman – Mark Dean, R-Mingo; Health Chairman – Joe Ellington, R-Mercer; Health Vice Chairman – Jordan Hill, R-Nicholas; Government Organization Chairman – Gary Howell, R-Mineral; Government Organization Vice Chairman – Jeff Pack, R-Raleigh; Insurance Chairman – Steve Westfall, R-Jackson; Substance Abuse – Matt Rohrbach, R-Cabell; and SubstanceAbuse Vice Chairman – Ray Hollen, R-Wirt.
The Speaker proposes changing the Roads and Transportation Committee into a new Technology and Infrastructure Committee, which will broaden its focus to include legislation designed to promote broadband and other technology infrastructure development across the State. The new Chairman will be Jim Butler, R-Mason and Daniel Linville, R-Cabell will serve as Vice Chairman.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael will lead the upper chamber again as Senate President. He has yet announced a full leadership team, except for the following: Majority Leader – Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha; Finance Chairman – Craig Blair, R-Berkeley; Judiciary Chairman – Charles Trump, R-Morgan; Education Chairman – Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson; and Health Chairman – Mike Maroney, R-Marshall.
The FY19 General Revenue budget exceeded its November estimate by $18.752 million. The FY19 Year To Date (YTD) collections are $141.028 million over YTD estimates. The State has a surplus at this time and it is attributed to strong collections in Consumer Sales, Personal Income and Severance Taxes. The increase in Personal Income and Sales Tax is due to the state’s gas pipeline activity. Legislators were warned by tax officials to expect a decrease in collections after pipeline construction activity decreases next year.
The surplus collections translate to a very positive outlook for the FY20 budget. Governor Jim Justice has publicly promised to budget $100 million for a one-time fix for the WV Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) and $140 million to fund a % raise for teachers, service personnel and State employees.