The first 2023 special session adjourned sine die on Aug. 9. According to the press release from Delegate Elias Coop-Gonzalez, R-Randolph, Governor Jim Justice provided 32 minutes notice to the legislature. However, most members were already present at the capitol for the scheduled August interim meetings.
Forty-four bills were introduced, and 35 passed. Most significant were the aid bills to West Virginia jails/prisons and volunteer fire departments.
Senate Bill 1005 will provide 21.1 million dollars for correctional officers’ pay increases. SB 1003 and SB 1004 will give bonuses to correctional facility workers, including nonuniformed employees.
SB 1021 and 1022 will create three funding streams for volunteer fire departments. Six million dollars will be available to county volunteer fire departments at large, and two three-million dollar streams administered by the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security will be divided to county commissions and counties based on population.
Many other bills were considered, including infrastructure, economic development, Department of Health and Human Resources, higher education, and more.
“We did some important things for fire departments and jails/prisons—providing some relief—albeit temporary, Elias Coop-Gonzalez said. “Other than that, we considered the Governor’s broad wish list—much of which I voted against. Some bills were plainly bad and others just not properly vetted. In my opinion, a lot of taxpayer money was wasted.”