CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Gov. Jim Justice has resisted calls he bring the Legislature back into special session to deal with COVID-19 issues.
Congress and President Trump sent $1.25 billion dollars in federal aid to West Virginia. Lawmakers in both parties want to exercise their spending authority for more testing, school preparations for the fall, and even emergency food distribution.
“I just, I really think it’s important that our constituents are heard by the legislative voice. And our governor is not responsible for spending $1.25 billion dollars, alone,” said Del. Amanda Estep-Burton, D-Kanawha.
Gov. Justice said he has sole authority to spend the federal aid because COVID-19 prompted a state of emergency. Now, some Republican lawmakers are also asking for a special session for another reason. They worry churches, small businesses, and others need protection from legal actions.
“Lawsuits. Very frivolous lawsuits where somebody catches the Coronavirus and they may not even know how they got it. They could sue the teachers, or the could sue the school, of the university here at West Virginia State. People can sue,” said Del. Josh Higginbotham, R-Putnam.
So far, 22 other states passed lawsuit liability protections because of COVID-19.
“Congress is also looking to pass liability legislation. But many states, including West Virginia, want to pass their own protections, because they say you never can tell what Congress will do,” said Mark Curtis, 59 News Chief Political Reporter.