CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the state legislature completed a 10-item special session agenda within a matter of hours Friday afternoon firming up the state budget and putting framework into place for a county elected official pay raise.
The bills on the governor’s agenda were all part of the recently completed 60-day session but were not approved, some of them running out of time on the final night last Saturday.
The pay raise bill, which would provide up to a 12 percent increase, received the most discussion Friday and some criticism from Republicans.
Officeholders including prosecutors, assessors, county and circuit clerks, could make a written request for a pay raise as early as this summer. The individual county’s finances would have to be certified by the state Auditor before the pay raise would be made available. The county commission would submit the information to the auditor. The money would come from county funds not state funds.
Del. Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer, unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill to push back the raises to 2016.
“Everyone that would receive this raise currently knew what the pay was when they filed for office,” he said.
County Commissions’ Association of West Virginia Director Vivian Parsons told members of the Senate Finance Committee Friday county commissioners could live with the bill.
“As long as we can protect those counties who can afford to do so (give raises) as well as those counties who can’t,” Parsons said.
Lawmakers also passed a bill that deals with waste from the Marcellus shale drilling process. The bill, proposed by the state DEP, would make additional space in landfills available for the waste.
Other bills approved include:
– The bill dealing with lottery distributions, also called the “bucket bill” or “haircut bill,” to save $20 million that will go into the Rainy Day Fund.
– A bill addressing local shares in county school systems within Lincoln, Monongalia and Wyoming counties since there have been penalties tied to improperly assessed properties.
– A proposal that deals with a land account within the state Department of Agriculture.
– Proposed legislation that would correct problems with the Chesapeake Bay bond issue.
– A proposal dealing with the Sexual Assault Nurses Network.
– Four supplemental appropriations bills — two for the current budget and two for the next budget year.
Lawmakers left Charleston after the special session. They aren’t scheduled back until after the May Primary Election when interim sessions begin.