Randy Yohe Published

Locality Pay Bill Fails In House

Delegate with goatee stands and speaks on House chamber floor.
Del. Todd Kirby, D-Raleigh, coins "haves and have nots" in opposition to failed locality pay bill.
Perry Bennett/WV Legislative Photography

A bill meant to retain in-state employees now crossing the borders to neighboring states, failed in the House of Delegates on Tuesday. 

House Bill 2953 would have created the Commission on Cost-of-Living Adjustments, tasked with designating the five counties most in need of locality pay adjustments. The bill failed on a vote of 42 to 56. 

The commission would have reported findings back to the West Virginia Legislature. A funding mechanism would have been created, but it would have been up to the legislature to review the findings and decide if any taxpayer money should be allocated. 

A spirited “haves and have nots” debate on the House chamber floor focused on Eastern Panhandle job retention, versus concern from the coalfields and elsewhere over preferential treatment. 

Del. Bill Ridenhour, R-Jefferson, spoke from an Eastern Panhandle perspective.

“I live in Jefferson County and I have talked with, literally, about 7,000 of my constituents,” Ridenhour said. “They are loyal West Virginians, they want to work in West Virginia, they simply can’t afford it based upon the cost of living in my area, in my district, in my county. They work, in most cases, in Maryland and Pennsylvania, or in Virginia.”

Del. Adam Vance, R-Wyoming, was one of many opposing a bill he said ignores the needs of coalfield counties. 

We need to be a team and there’s 100 players on the team, not five, and there’s five counties that have to be there,” Vance said. “There’s 55 counties in this state and think of it as the top five never touching the ones in the south. The ones down at the bottom, which is Wyoming, McDowell, Mingo, Boone, they never see none of it.”

The bill would have also created a Locality Cost-of-Living Adjustment Fund, administered by and under the control of the Secretary of Revenue.