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House Democrats talk special session priorities


West Virginia House Democrats are presenting a list of items they want on a special session agenda.

House Minority Leader Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, said the special session should not be a second attempt for Republicans to pass measures related to their cultural agenda.

Speaking at a recent news conference, Hornbuckle said too much time was wasted in the regular session debating Senate Bill 601, the Women’s Bill of Rights, and House Bill 4654, the measure holding some criminally liable for obscene material in public libraries or museums.

“Let me repeat, it is not a do-over for red meat bills, culture wars, or divisive bills that pull West Virginians apart,” Hornbuckle said.

Del. Kayla Young, D-Kanawha, said seven bills to help children and families were under consideration during the most recent legislative session, but none of them made progress. She said Democrats provided what the governor asked for during the session, but no progress was made in a state she said has been reducing support for childcare for the past 10 years.

“We fought for those all session, and we didn’t see any of them,” Young said. “In fact, we saw a massive cut in child care funding. In the last 10 years, there has been a 50% cut in child care funding in West Virginia.”

Del. Joey Garcia, D-Marion, who is also Minority chairman of the Committee on Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services, said two people have died due to substandard emergency medical response. Garcia said one in Wayne County and another in Mingo County were due to inadequate service.

“We had too long of a wait time, and someone who could have otherwise lived didn’t make it,” Garcia said. “That’s a crisis that can’t wait until the 2025 special session.”

Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, wants to address cuts in Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities Wavier (IDDW) funding.

Del. John Williams, D-Monongalia, wants Democrats to push for the reinstatement of about $150 million in cuts to state Medicaid.

“When you have such a high population relative to any other state that receives Medicaid and you think we’re playing with those benefits, there’s no good reason for that,” Williams said.

The special session is planned for May, but no agenda or dates have been set.