Legislative Update (Part 1) - Mon Dems

Legislative Update (Part 1)

We were proud to send a full slate of Mon County Democrats to the state legislature this year, and they were a force to be reckoned with. Contending with issues from roads to education, women’s health, energy, and more, our representatives worked hard for us and all the people of West Virginia. We thought you’d enjoy hearing a few of their thoughts on the session. Of course, this update represents only a small part of what happened. To find out the final status of particular bills, go to the Bill Status tracker on the legislature’s website. Or contact your legislators; they’ll be glad to hear from you!

Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer

According to veteran delegate Barbara Evans Fleischaur, the quadrupling of the number of Democratic women in the House of Delegates this year made a huge difference. “The energy and determination of this band of eight women – working with other legislators and advocacy groups – produced three big gains for women this session,” she said. These included HB 2583 – which expands access to birth control, SB 564 – which provides insurance coverage for more pregnant women and babies, and HB2020 – which provides additional funds for rape crisis centers around the state.

Fleischauer added, “I can also never say enough positive things about the Fab Five (delegates) from Monongalia County. It is so great having a united Democratic delegation. It was beyond wonderful to have two new members, Evan Hansen and Danielle Walker, to share the load with John Williams, Rodney Pyles, and me. “And, we like each other! Last week, we took a field trip to the western end of the county (eastern tour to be announced soon). We had snacks and looked at some terrible roads. Here’s the news story the Dominion Post ran about the tour: https://www.dominionpost.com/2019/03/29/delegates-roads- consultants-take-pothole-tour-of-western-monongalia-county/ You can contact Barbara at 304-296-7035 (work), 304-599-7883 (home), or by email at friendsofbarbara@gmail.com.

Delegate Rodney Pyles

Two-term delegate Rodney Pyles said he was glad the legislature finally passed a bill exempting Social Security benefits from state income taxes, an exemption most other states provide. “I introduced a similar bill before,” he said, “but unlike my bill, the one that passed requires seniors to choose between the Social Security exemption and the standard senior deduction. Nevertheless, I’m glad it passed and hope it benefits many seniors.” Pyles also said he was happy the campus carry bill – which would have allowed firearms on state college and university campuses – and the omnibus education bill – which tied school employee raises to a whole set of harmful “reforms” – were defeated.

“I was disappointed, though,” he said, “that many good bills – repeal of right to work, restoration of prevailing wage, seniority rights for public employees, and others – never made it out of committee. The roads bills and some others sponsored by Mon County delegates passed but were vetoed by the governor. We still have a lot of work to do.” Pyles said citizens can make a difference by staying informed, visiting Charleston, emailing and calling committee chairs, and encouraging friends and family to do the same. “Democracy works best when people participate,” he said. Contact Rodney any time at 304-599-6496 (landline), email rod.pylz@gmail.com, or write to him at 536 Harvard Avenue, Morgantown, WV 26505.

Delegate Evan Hansen

First-year delegate Evan Hansen said he very much enjoyed his first experience representing Monongalia County in the legislature. An environmental scientist, Hansen focused on energy and the environment, as well as roads, which he called a “true emergency” in Mon County. “All five of us (Mon County delegates) cosponsored a bill that requires the DOH to use a fair formula to allot maintenance dollars. Another would allow the state to contract out road maintenance when necessary.” Both bills passed but, unfortunately, were vetoed by the governor, so efforts to find solutions continue. Hansen also sponsored the Modern Jobs Act, which allows large electricity users to buy solar power generated on former coal mines. “Nontraditional allies like manufacturers and industrial energy users support this bill because it will create jobs,” he said. “Although it didn’t pass this year, it will be back because West Virginia needs to diversify its economy.” Hansen also worked on a bill updating water quality standards, which passed but had its implementation postponed pending further study, and he hopes to be appointed to an interim committee to work on the issue. Finally, Hansen said he enjoys the process of working across the aisle to move legislation forward. “When we work to find common ground, we can make progress,” he said. Evan invites constituents to email him at evan.hansen@wvhouse.gov; write to him at PO Box 139, Morgantown, WV 26507; or call him at 304-503-4933.