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Gov. Justice Calls Special Session of Legislature

CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice has issued a proclamation, calling for the West Virginia Legislature to convene in Special Session on Monday April 25, 2022, at 12:00 p.m.

Last month, Gov. Justice announced that he would call a Special Session, coinciding with April Legislative Interim Meetings, to give the Legislature the opportunity to address bills from the Regular Session that were vetoed for purely technical reasons, among additional legislation.

Also last month, Gov. Justice vetoed a bill generally relating to broadband, which was found to contain fatal flaws and provisions which are prohibited by federal law. In his veto message, the Governor said that he had directed the Department of Economic Development to work with Legislative leadership, the sponsors of this bill, and all interested and knowledgeable parties to revisit and perfect the legislation.

That work is still ongoing and, as such, a revised version of this important legislation will be included ina future call, rather than the call for April 25.

Today, Gov. Jim Justice has issued a proclamation, amending his call for the West Virginia Legislature to convene in Special Session to include an additional item for consideration.

The additional item is a supplemental appropriation for $250 million to the Economic Enhancement Grant Fund, created by HB 4566, which is managed by the West Virginia Water Development Authority. Working together with the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council and the West Virginia Department of Economic Development, the fund will provide matching grants to municipalities for use in upgrading infrastructure such as water and sewer systems.

“These are major dollars that, with the support of the Legislature, will help make life better for so many West Virginians in all kinds of ways,” Gov. Justice said. “Unfortunately, we still have places where access to these utilities isn’t as reliable as it should be. It’s a problem that goes back decades – long before I walked in the door as Governor. With this Legislation, we’d be taking a huge step forward. These funds will allow us to improve water and wastewater systems in communities across the state, providing more reliable and efficient utilities where they’re needed most.”

The Special Session commenced today at 12:00 p.m.

Also on Friday, Gov. Justice celebrated the recent news that President Joe Biden has extended 502(f) federal support for the National Guard, which will allow the West Virginia National Guard to continue assisting in the state’s response to COVID-19 through the end of September.

“We’re thankful for this because our great National Guardsmen and women need to be paid for all they do for us every day, especially when it comes to their heroic response to the COVID pandemic and how they continue to run to the fire whenever we need them,” Gov. Justice said.

Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to announce that the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) will aid Ukraine by providing armored personnel carriers for use against continued Russian aggression.

Following a request from the Department of Defense (DOD), the West Virginia Army National Guard will give an undisclosed number of M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) to Ukraine as part of a drawdown of DOD inventories to support the country.

M-113 APCs are used to move Soldiers and equipment across the battlefield while providing protection from small arms fire and the effects of artillery.

“The bottom line is that we have to step up as Americans, because the Ukrainian people are hurting,” Gov. Justice said. “I am incredibly proud to be able to make this commitment. We’re going to move these vehicles as quickly as we possibly can. We hope that this helps a little bit, but we need to be doing everything we can to put a stop to the destruction now.”

Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that today a Request For Proposal (RFP) was officially posted, soliciting bids for a consulting contract to provide a top-to-bottom organizational assessment of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).

The review process would also include the development of a Strategic Plan for the organization of DHHR moving forward.

Last month, Gov. Justice vetoed a bill that would have split DHHR into two different agencies, calling instead for a full agency review, so that inefficiencies can be corrected without jeopardizing any vital support or services for the West Virginians who rely on the DHHR“We look forward to working with a great firm to do this kind of assessment,” Gov. Justice said. “If we have deficiencies, we’ll correct them, just like I promised. We want to do everything we can do to make all of our organizations better.”

Bids are currently due by May 6, 2022, at 1:30 p.m.