July 2, 2022

Justice signs special session bills on economic development, other issues

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed 15 bills the General Assembly passed during the special session, which addressed economic development, expanding education options, combating unemployment insurance fraud and other issues.

The governor called the special session to introduce substitute versions of legislation that passed during the regular session, which contained changes from the original bills. The General Assembly approved the governor’s suggestions.

House Bill 217, an economic development bill, was among the bills signed. The legislation will allocate $250 million to the Economic Enhancement Grant Fund to provide money for localities to upgrade infrastructure, such as water and sewage systems. The fund is managed by the West Virginia Development Authority, which will work with the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council and the West Virginia Department of Economic Development to award the funding.

“This bill is going to allow us to take a huge step forward improving water and wastewater systems in communities across the state, providing more reliable and efficient utilities where they’re needed most,” Justice said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, we still have places where access to these utilities isn’t as reliable as it should be,” the governor continued. “It’s a problem that goes back decades – long before I walked in the door as Governor. But, with this funding, we are going to make a difference. I thank the West Virginia Legislature for passing this important bill and all of their work during the recent special session.”

Justice also signed Senate Bill 2001, which directs the Board of Treasury Investments to make a revolving loan available to the Department of Transportation and ends the revolving loan for the Board of Treasury Investments. The bill also creates a special revenue fund for the loan money.

The governor signed Senate Bill 2009, which will expand educational options for elective course credits. It directs the Board of Education to develop a program for students to receive credits in settings outside of the traditional classroom.

Senate Bill 2005, which Justice signed, reauthorizes Workforce West Virginia to create an Unemployment Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit and Senate Bill 2013, which he also signed, creates criminal penalties for operating an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs.

The governor declined to add a gas tax relief bill to the agenda, which prevented lawmakers from addressing such bills during the special session. House and Senate Democrats were calling on the governor to include those bills for consideration.

This article was originally posted on Justice signs special session bills on economic development, other issues