CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Justice called a special legislative session for West Virginia, but West Virginia Democrats are raising concerns because the call does not include any pause on West Virginia gas taxes or gas tax holiday.

For the past 40 days, West Virginia Democrats have been calling for the Governor to call the session specifically so that they can create legislation to provide relief to West Virginians at the pump. Gov. Justice announced the session on Friday, and on Monday, just an hour before the session was set to begin, the lawmakers held a press conference to bring attention to what they believe is Governor Justice’s oversight.

“This is our way of saying, ‘Governor, we’re outside your office,'” one lawmaker said. The group originally called for the Governor’s help back in early March and held several calls and meetings asking for the Special Session since then. Now, they are asking Gov. Justice to add their proposed legislation to the session call. According to the lawmakers, the legislation for a gas tax pause that would directly help West Virginia consumers has already been drafted and is ready for amendments so that it can get bipartisan support. The Democrats believe that party bias from their Republican counterparts has prevented their legislation from moving forward.

Special sessions are additional days for legislators to pass bills that were missed during the regular legislative session. The lawmakers who support the gas tax pause, believe that this is one of the vital pieces of legislation that was missed and that the “excuses” that some have used against it have no backing.

“People need it right now,” said Del. Joey Garcia out of Marion County. According to lawmakers, a pause on the state gas tax would save West Virginians 35.7 cents per gallon.

Del. Stephen Baldwin, a Democrat out of Greenbrier County, sent a letter on Friday to the West Virginia Senate Craig Blair, saying that many important issues have been excluded from the session. “I reiterate: this is a temporary measure, we can afford it, and surrounding states have done the same. This policy would especially help border counties, working West Virginians (who commute an average of 25 minutes to work), and retirees on fixed incomes,” said Baldwin.

Other than the gas tax holiday, Baldwin listed several other issues that he believes deserve the be added to the special session agenda. “I feel it is important to highlight critical issues that have been omitted from consideration. Many of these issues are time-sensitive and enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support during our regular session,” said Baldwin.

Among the laws that Baldwin mentioned in the letter were:

  • The gas tax holiday
  • Foster care improvement bills
  • Insulin cap bill
  • Redistributing taxes and surcharges to volunteer fire departments
  • Jail bill considerations
  • School and courthouse maintenance and improvements

Baldwin asked the President to ask Gov. Justice and Speaker Hanshaw to add the mentioned issues to the special session. “I appreciate you working with our caucus to elevate good ideas, no matter where they come from,” Baldwin said in closing.

The Special Session begins Monday, April 25 at noon in Charleston. You can watch the full press conference from West Virginia Democrats on what is missing from the special session agenda here.