Randy Yohe Published

Justice Adds Abortion Law Clarity To Special Session On Tax Cuts


Updated on Tuesday, July 26 at 9 a.m.

In sessions Monday evening, both the House and the Senate adjourned for the day without taking any additional action. The two bills that have been introduced are House Bills 301 and 302.

House Bill 301 relates to the governor’s request for a 10 percent reduction in the personal income tax. This bill was introduced by House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, and the House Minority Leader Del. Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha. It is currently before the House Finance committee.

House Bill 302 is the abortion bill. That bill was introduced into the House Health and Human Resources committee where it passed by a vote of 16 to 6 and has now been sent to the House Judiciary Committee.

A public hearing on the abortion bill has been scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday in the House Chamber.

This is a developing story and may be updated.

Gov. Jim Justice amended Monday’s special session by asking the West Virginia Legislature to clarify the state’s abortion laws.

Last week, Justice called the legislature into a special session to discuss a proposed personal income tax reduction. Just as both chambers gaveled into session, the governor sent out a statement adding the abortion issue.

House Democrats say they were caught off guard.

In a press release, the West Virginia Democratic Party highlighted that less than a week ago, Justice had stated it could be months before the legislature took up abortion.

“Apparently Governor Justice couldn’t get his backroom tax cut deal done without a deal guaranteeing a return to backroom abortions,” Democratic Vice-Chair Del. Danielle Walker, D- Monongalia, said. “I fear this will be a huge step backward for reproductive health care for West Virginians.”

Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, minority chair of the Health and Human Resources Committee, agreed the motivation for the sudden change lies in the governor’s tax proposal.

“I find it disgusting that apparently the governor wasn’t able to get the votes for his tax cut, so he’s using the West Virginia women and reproductive health care as a bargaining chip to get what he wants,” Pushkin said. “The people of West Virginia deserve better.”

Pushkin echoed Walker in expressing concern that this will result in a backslide for reproductive health care in the state.

House Republicans said they were preparing for the abortion amendment from Sunday night on. The governor met with House Speaker Roger Hanshaw Sunday afternoon.

Del. Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, said an abortion clinic resuming its services gave the super majority deep concern, and he saw no problem in creating legislation for both issues.

“It’s just the will of many of the members of the majority in the House and Senate to speak on the abortion issue,” Linville said. “I do not view the two as related whatsoever.”

Legislators on both sides said this special session may last for days.