Delegate Meshea Poore has asked Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to call a special session to focus solely on legislation to protect the state’s water supply. She's received bipartisan support in her request from more than 20 delegates, including many from the nine counties directly affected by the water crisis.
However, House Speaker Tim Miley and Judiciary Chair Tim Manchin disagree and say that deliberations on Senate Bill 373 will continue.
“If, in fact, we proceed with ‘business as usual,’ we will miss a golden opportunity to produce legislation that will instill a renewed sense of confidence in the administrative and legislative branches of West Virginia’s governance structure,” Poore stated in the letter.
“Placing (the water bill) on the call will provide ample and appropriate vetting opportunities by the respective committees; thus resulting in sound public policy,” she added.
The House Judiciary Committee continues to discuss a proposed amendment to the bill.
Among those who have signed Poore’s letter is Delegate Mike Manypenny of Taylor County, Co-Chairman of the Joint Committee on Water Resources, and House Minority Leader Tim Armstead of Kanawha County.
But Judiciary Chair Tim Miley disagrees with Poore and her fellow delegates' request.
“Between the House Health and Judiciary Committees, members have probably spent more than 20 hours in hearings, debating and listening to numerous experts about Senate Bill 373,” Manchin said.
Manchin noted there is over a week left in the regular session and the House Judiciary Committee will continue working on the bill.
“I anticipate we will spend many more hours on this in the coming days,” Manchin said in a release Thursday.
“We have been very thorough and plan to give this important piece of legislation careful consideration.
Speaker Tim Miley echoed Manchin's sentiments on the matter.
"The discussion of the need of a special session is unnecessary as the bill is moving though our committee process in a timely manner," Miley said.
“I regret that these members want to give up on passing a bill during the regular session when we still have plenty of time to perfect it."