CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice has signed a flurry of bills, including one dealing with work requirements for food stamps and another dealing with the state fleet:
HB 4001 deals with work requirements for food stamp eligibility.
The bill would limit waivers on work requirements under federal law for counties with high unemployment rates.
Federal law allows waivers for counties if their 12-month average unemployment rate is above 10 percent, or if their 24-month average unemployment rate is 20 percent above the national average.
The West Virginia changes would affect able-bodied adults between the ages of 18-50 who do not have children or dependents, who are not pregnant and who don’t have a disability.
The bill says they must work, volunteer or participate in job training for 20 hours a week to qualify for food stamps.
Those opposed to the bill have said it removes a vital part of the social safety net.
“In signing HB 4001, Governor Jim Justice has clearly gone back on his promise of not wanting to hurt people. Taking away food from our neighbors who struggle to find work doesn’t accomplish anything positive, it only hurts our communities,” stated Seth DiStefano, director of public policy for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
HB 4013 is meant to clarify venue in West Virginia State Courts as it applies to nonresidents of the state.
It says nonresidents may not bring actions in West Virginia courts unless whatever gave rise to the claim occurred here. Then, it provides that nonresidents may file actions in the state courts if they cannot otherwise obtain jurisdiction in the state where the action arose.
HB 4015 is meant to better keep track of the state fleet.
The bill reforms the state’s Fleet Management Office into a permanent Fleet Management Division in the Department of Administration.
It would also introduce a standard naming convention so there’s a consistent way to report and look up state vehicles.
And the bill would change the color pattern of state vehicle license plates from green and white to blue and gold — a move meant to ensure that old or expired plates are no longer in use.
“We think the state owns roughly $200 million in vehicles, yet no government agency can give us an accurate count of how many vehicles the state actually owns or what they’re being used for,” stated Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral, the bill’s sponsor.
“This is unacceptable, and we owe it to the taxpayers of West Virginia to require transparency and accountability in tracking the state’s vehicle fleet.”
HB 4424 would make the state Ethics Act apply to “public servant volunteers.”
Volunteers who do work for public officials would have to submit ethics disclosures.
The issue arose after businessman Bray Cary became a volunteer in Gov. Jim Justice’s office. Cary is a board member for EQT Corporation, which has significant oil and gas operations in West Virginia.
Cary has been voluntarily submitting his financial disclosure to the state Ethics Commission.