WVa Lawmakers Pass Road, Energy Bills, Will Revisit Abortion

By LEAH WILLINGHAM, Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia lawmakers quickly passed bills in a special Monday session that would invest millions of dollars in road maintenance work and create a program to entice companies that want to use renewable energy to come to the state or expand operations.

As lawmakers wrapped up the day, House Republican Majority Leader Del. Amy Summers, announced that lawmakers will resume work Tuesday on legislation related to the state’s abortion law and the state’s income tax cut.

In late July, the Republican supermajority suspended work on an abortion bill that would have banned access to abortion in most circumstances after they could not agree on what should look like the final version of the bill. A version of the bill with some exemptions for victims of rape and incest passed the House, but stalled after the Senate passed its own version with amendments, one of which removed the criminal penalties for doctors who perform illegal abortions. Instead, delegates called for a conference committee to iron out differences.

Several GOP-led states had “trigger” abortion bans in place before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to repeal Roe v. Wade, but West Virginia lawmakers are taking action due to legal uncertainty over whether an 1800s ban that was overturned in the 1973 ruling could be enforced now.

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For now, abortions remain legal up to 20 weeks gestation in West Virginia after a judge blocked enforcement of the 150-year-old abortion ban.

But that could change this week. After lawmakers spoke out on Monday night, a group of around 100 protesters holding signs with messages such as ‘abortion rights are human rights’ gathered outside Republican Gov. Jim’s mansion Justice, where lawmakers were attending a barbecue.

“Abortion bans put politicians where they don’t belong: in charge of the private medical decisions of others,” said Alisa Clements, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, who attended the protest. “No matter how many narrow exceptions are written into this dangerous bill, it will cause chaos in the health care system and result in people being denied life-saving care.

A bill passed on Monday would allow the creation of two districts of about 2,250 acres – similar to industrial parks – where a group of companies would have the opportunity to generate and share renewable energy on site. The districts would not be subject to the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission.

Districts would be created by the Department of Economic Development and must demonstrate a significant economic impact on the state by attracting at least two new or expanded businesses. Districts must be on land sold or leased by a state or municipality or on land previously used for coal mining.

Speaking at a House judicial meeting, Department of Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael said the legislation would benefit at least one proposed project in Jackson County, which borders Ohio. He said negotiations had been underway on the project for about six months, but did not specify which companies were involved.

The project would enter land currently held by the Ministry of Economic Development worth about $25 million, he said.

Carmichael said his father worked at the site in a factory that was built in 1957 and closed around 2009.

“It devastated this community, and now to see its resurgence, and a new world-class manufacturing plant in an aerospace industry, what it will do for this community and the region and the region is just immeasurable,” he said. -he declares.

Another bill would transfer $150 million of unrestricted surplus funds to the Highways Division for the maintenance of secondary roads.

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