Ashton Marra Published

Wage Bonding Bill Sparks Democratic Concern


As the owner of a construction company, Putnam County Sen. Glen Jeffries said Friday a bill to end a decades long practice in West Virginia of bonding employee wages in certain industries worried him. 

“This industry, they are vulnerable businesses, construction especially,” he said on the chamber floor. “In a five year period, 38 percent of the businesses are still open. Thirty-eight percent.”

Currently under state law, employers in certain industries—including mineral extraction and construction—are required to bond the wages and benefits of their employees for the first five years of operation.

The bond is money paid to the state that would cover a month of wages and benefits for employees if the business closes, but Senate Bill 224 would get rid of that requirement. 

Senators debated an amendment to the bill Friday, one that would keep the requirement in place, but give businesses some relief, according to Jeffries, by requiring it only for the first three years of operation instead of the current five. 

“I came from a working family, but I also look at it and see it from an employer’s standpoint how I got to be a business owner is that employee who made me who I was, made my company who I was,” Jeffries said on the floor. “There’s a reason that those wage bonds were put in place.”

Democratic members of the chamber stood to back Jeffries’s proposal, including Sen. Doug Facemire who  was concerned about employees who lose their wages due to bankruptcies and have some protection through a wage bond. 


Credit Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography
West Virginia Legislative Photography
Sen. Doug Facemire on the floor Friday

“I think that the good way, way outweighs the bad in keeping this in place for those people who go to work every day and the only thing they are guilty of is showing up,” he said. “They’ve done their job, they’ve done what they were supposed to do and I think they’re entitled to their pay.”

Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Trump, who is also a sponsor of the legislation, called the bond an impediment to business growth in the state. 

“We have an obligation to pass legislation that allows people to start businesses in West Virginia without unreasonably expensive barriers,” Trump said. “We need jobs in this state. We need to promote that economic development, and this bill will do that.”

Jeffries’s proposed amendment failed Friday on a 12-20 vote. The bill will be up for a final vote in the chamber Monday.

Editor’s Note: This story initially identified Sen. Glen Jeffries as being from Kanawha County. The senator is from Putnam County and this story has been updated to reflect that.