West Virginia may have a couple of special sessions

West Virginia Headlines

Governor Jim Justice has already told West Virginia’s Senators and Delegates to come back at an unspecified date to deal with education reform issues, and pay raises for teachers and school staff. This after a two-day strike earlier this year.

But, the Governor has vetoed legislation aimed at fixing the state’s medical marijuana program. He also vetoed two bills dealing with road repairs.

So, the special session calendar is getting full.

“Some of the vetoed bills will appear on the Special Session call, which is completely within reason,” said Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson). “It’s exactly the right way to do it. I’m completely supportive and we’ll address those technical issues with some of those bills very quickly.” 

Democrats expressed frustration, saying many issues like roads could have been handled in the regular 60-day session.

“While the Governor is just now addressing roads, we’re addressing roads on a daily basis in the Legislature,” added Delegate Andrew Robinson (D-Kanawha). “We did so by passing a lot of legislation that the Governor’s now-vetoed instead of jumping on board and being involved with during session.” 

One bill the Governor vetoed that may get a second chance, involves capping thousands of abandoned natural gas and oil wells in West Virginia that pose an environmental threat.

“Well, the problem is that gas and oil can come up into the air or onto the surface,” explained David McMahon with the WV Surface Owners Rights Organization. “It can come up in the groundwater. Surface pollution can go down in the groundwater if these wells are not plugged the way that they are required to be.” 

Some estimates say there could be nearly 20,000 uncapped gas and oil wells.

With Special Sessions costing taxpayers $40,000 dollars per day, it’s likely lawmakers will be called back during the April and May Interim Committee meetings when many of them are already required to be here at the Capitol.

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