CHARLESTON – As congressional and state redistribution bills take up most of the oxygen this week in Charleston, lawmakers are also considering more than half a billion federal dollars for COVID funding requests -19 and other bills.
During this week’s special redistribution session, members of the state Senate and House of Delegates plan to pass 32 bills today.
Of the 32 bills, 14 bills are spending authorization requests from various state agencies to use federal COVID-19 assistance from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) from President Joe Biden and d ‘other federal funding sources. The claims are approximately $ 520.6 million.
Of that amount, the Department of Health and Human Resources would receive approximately $ 494 million in spending authority for federal dollars in COVID-19 relief. Most of that would go to medical services, such as prescription drug cost coverage, nursing home spending, the COVID-19 response, school-based services, Medicare Part B increases, and services. at home and in the community.
“This is due to new federal funding that the agencies have received,” said Jeremiah Samples, deputy secretary of DHHR. “A portion of this supplement relates to a significant subsidy for home and community services that was provided by the federal government. It is in fact, in total, to the tune of $ 500 million. The other part of this funding is directly tied to Medicaid spending attributed to the pandemic. “
Other DRHH programs that would be authorized to spend include: $ 7.8 million for the energy assistance program; $ 267,969 for COVID-19 test kits for state mental health services; $ 11.1 million for the Consolidated Medical Services Fund; $ 50 million for benefits, expenses and costs related to COVID-19 from the central office of the Health Division; and $ 218,330 for the Health Division’s Substance Abuse Treatment and Treatment Program.
The COVID-19 relief dollars will also be used for other agencies for spending authorization, including $ 16.4 million for the Bureau of Senior Services for grants to county senior centers, 1.1 million dollars to the Department of Agriculture for grant programs and the state laboratory, $ 765,000 to the Culture and History Division for grants to nonprofit arts programs that canceled events due to COVID-19, $ 719,176 for the Educational Broadcasting Authority for emergency communications upgrades for its towers, $ 2.4 million for the Library Commission, $ 1.8 million for the ministry Veterans Assistance, $ 1.5 million for the State Veterans Home and $ 2 million for the National and Community Service Commission.
Another $ 5.9 million was requested by Governor Jim Justice in transfers of unrestricted public funds from the previous fiscal year for current fiscal year programs. The Culture and History Division requested $ 22,900 for current expenses and $ 50,000 for a suffragette memorial. The Ministry of Economic Development has requested $ 150,000 for global economic development projects, such as a trade office in Taiwan.
“There was a legislative delegation in both houses that worked on this,” said J. Berkeley Bentley, General Counsel for Justice. “This is about setting up a Taiwanese office for the government of West Virginia to advertise to businesses in Taiwan. The Taiwanese government here is going to cover all costs except minor personnel costs, and that’s why the surcharge … is only $ 150,000. “
The Department of Education would receive $ 250,000 to compensate it for West Virginia Professional Charter School Board funding after the legislature forgot to provide the new board funding in the bill creating it during the 2021 session. The Governor requested a transfer of $ 2 million from unrestricted funds to the Civil Emergency Fund, $ 500,000 for the Personnel Division, $ 30,000 for the Special Railway Improvement Fund and intermodal and $ 250,000 for the Administrative Hearings Office of the Ministère des Transports.
Another $ 2 million would be taken from the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Restoration Fund. A related bill would amend Budget Bill 2021 and transfer $ 2.5 million – including $ 2 million from the Attorney General’s office – to the Social Services Division’s Medical Services Trust Fund DHHR.
Lawmakers are also expected to approve a bill setting the concealed transportation request fee at $ 50, with half the fee going to West Virginia State Police. The state treasurer’s office is looking to make changes to the WV ABLE program, a savings plan for people with disabilities. The bill would allow a person with signing authority to open an ABLE account in the name of a designated beneficiary, clarifies that the treasurer can require a request to open an ABLE account and gives the office greater power to regulations.
Other laws include:
• A bill to exempt the sale of airplanes sold in West Virginia, registered in another state, and withdrawn from the state within 60 days of consumer sales and use tax.
• A bill that would give similar authority to county education councils already granted to county commissions regarding decisions made by county health councils or county health officers. The bill gives county school boards 30 days to approve health rules specific to school systems or the rule is void.
• A bill increases the salary of the lottery director from $ 92,500 per year to $ 110,000.
• A bill to establish a court facilities maintenance fund for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeal. The funds would come from rent or other payments from tenants renting premises on property belonging to the Supreme Court. The funds would be used to offset the costs of maintaining the property.
• A bill making technical changes to the Intermediate Court of Appeal regarding the review of workers’ compensation claims and domestic violence proceedings. The bill would also allow the tribunal to hold virtual hearings at the discretion of the tribunal. Delegate Tom Fast, R-Fayette, attempted to propose an amendment to the bill to limit the ability to hold virtual hearings to specific circumstances, but the amendment failed.
Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at [email protected]