CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Thirty-five Democratic members of the West Virginia House of Delegates have signed a letter addressed to Gov. Jim Justice that asks him to call the legislature in for a special session to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In the letter, delegates cite concerns over the length of time since Justice declared a state of emergency on March 16. “We believe that 4 months is too long for any one person to have such authority without appropriate legislative input,” the letter states.
According to the letter, the legislature is not scheduled to convene until February 2021.
Further, lawmakers take issue with Justice’s “sole authority” in determining how to spend $1.25 billion from the federal government under the CARES Act.
“Quite frankly, it has been far too long for you to serve in a role that many have begun to describe as dictatorial. Neither you nor anyone else in your administration should be operating under the false belief that you (or anybody else) should possess sole authority (emphasis in original) when it comes to spending $1.25 Billion dollars of taxpayer money and, further, making decisions that affect every individual and business in the state.”House of Delegates letter to Gov. Justice
The letter also states that lawmakers want to help develop a comprehensive pandemic response plan for the state, including deciding how to spend federal funding. In closing, delegates state their intent to reach the 60% threshold in both the House of Delegates and the State Senate to call themselves into session, if Justice elects not to do so himself.