CHARLESTON, W.Va. – House Speaker Tim Miley (D-Harrison, 48) said it’s unlikely the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act — the bill banning abortions in West Virginia after 20 weeks into a pregnancy — will be taken up in a special legislative session this year.
Last month, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed HB 4588 calling it unconstitutional and unduly restrictive to the doctor-patient relationship.
Those with West Virginians for Life, a pro-life group that worked for passage of the bill during the 2014 Regular Legislative Session, have since been talking with lawmakers about ways to potentially revisit the issue in a special session. They’ve pointed to a provision in the state Constitution that says a governor must call a special session if three-fifths of members of both the state Senate and state House of Delegates petition for it.
Earlier this month, Bob Bastress, a West Virginia University law professor, said he saw nothing in West Virginia’s Constitution prohibiting the Legislature from reconvening in a special session to override the gubernatorial veto of the bill — if there is enough support for such a move.
Miley does not agree. He said the time for action on the veto has passed.
“We could have adopted a resolution extending our session so that we could remain in session to retrieve the message from the governor, which we didn’t do, or the bill could have been passed by the 54th day which would have required the governor to take action within five days where we still would have been in session to have taken action, such as overriding a veto, if that was the will of the body,” he said.
“Neither of those actions was taken.”
Citing information from attorneys for the House of Delegates, he said the Legislature concludes its legislative work once it adjourns sine die, which happened in March, and cannot take action on a bill that is no longer in the possession of the state Senate or the state House of Delegates. The vetoed bill has now been sent to the Secretary of State’s office, so the bill would have to be introduced again during any special session.
“It’s my understanding that the governor doesn’t have a desire to reconsider such a contentious, controversial bill in a special session, in part, because special sessions should be reserved for only the most important of matters because we go back into session every year, unlike some others states where they meet every other year,” said Miley.
Miley said he does expect fixes for the minimum wage bill along with supplemental bills to fund certain agencies, including the Courtesy Patrol, to be taken up during a May special session. That session will likely be called after the May 13 Primary Election.
As for the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, Miley said it may have to wait until next year. “We’re all disappointed at times and that’s life,” said Miley on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” “But we shouldn’t react so hastily and act like the world’s going to come to an end if we don’t override the governor’s veto.”