Ed bill overshadows lengthy agenda for W.Va. gov

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 17, 2013 at 3:53 pm •  Published: March 17, 2013
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But Republicans remain wary of a companion measure that seeks to increase West Virginia's already hefty emergency reserves. It would allow the state to save up to the equivalent of 15 percent of general revenue spending in its main "Rainy Day" fund. The limit is now 13 percent.

Once the new target is reached, the bill would deposit future surplus revenues into a new fund for road, water and sewer projects. It would also devote the investment earnings from some of the state's reserves to rising Medicaid costs.

But differing views of government taxes and spending derailed a similar measure last year.

"There is some question within our caucus as to whether we need to increase the amount that's set aside in the Rainy Day fund," said House Minority Leader Tim Armstead. "We believe that those funds might be better used being put back in the economy through tax deductions and that will in turn promote job creation in West Virginia."

Armstead, a Kanawha County Republican, said the 46 GOP delegates will more closely assess that and other bills from Tomblin's agenda as they begin to move.

The governor's proposed crackdown of drugged driving, meanwhile, has bogged down in House Judiciary. Lawmakers there are debating whether drivers should lose their licenses for refusing to allow a drug test following their arrest. The bill allows police officers to test for drugs as well as alcohol after an arrest for driving under the influence, while recognizing that a breath test can detect alcohol but not drugs. But the measure's language has committee members questioning whether it would violate constitutional rights.

Other bills that await even an initial committee's review include Tomblin's bid to apply state taxes to more online sales. His proposal limiting tax credits for alternative fuel vehicles to those that run on natural gas has also idled, but it is slated for a Tuesday review by the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The governor has also had eight bills introduced that would add a total of $250 million to the current budget while rerouting existing spending. Those include the child care and public defender measure passed Friday.

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Lawrence Messina covers the statehouse for The Associated Press. Follow him at http://twitter.com/lmessina



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