Lawmaker says Rescue Plan money to be acted on in special session

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 4:39 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - The West Virginia Legislature could return to session later this year, to deal with money just awarded the state from the American Rescue Plan.

Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday the state is to receive $678 million from the latest stimulus money approved by Congress.

“My staff has been reviewing all the ways this money is needed, and is working on a strategic plan on how we are going to propose that it be spent,” Gov. Justice said. “Next, we will begin reaching out to all of our legislative leadership and working together to get this money out to West Virginians that need it.”

Thanks to a bill lawmakers passed in this year’s regular session, the legislature must decide how any federal money-beyond a required “cap” of $150 million, is to be allocated.

Wood County Delegate Vernon Criss, a member of the House Finance Committee, says that would have to take place in a special session of the Legislature.

”Hopefully, a one-day session could be planned, with agreement with everybody,” Criss said Tuesday, “so we can take the bill up for immediate consideration, discuss the bill and hopefully pass it within one day out of both houses.”

The legislation was approved after a year in which the governor was criticized for allocating out funding received through the CARES act, with little input from legislators.

The money represents half of nearly $1.4 billion allotment, with the rest due to come in 2022.

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