W.Va. Lawmakers Hold First Remote Interim Legislative Session In 8 Years
The West Virginia Legislature meets every January for a 60-day general session. Lawmakers also meet several times a year in smaller committees and commissions during what are called interim sessions. The three day interims give legislators a chance to hear from public and private leaders and experts. These meetings help Delegates and Senators draft legislation specific to their constituents' needs.
In 2022, seven interim meetings are scheduled, usually held at the Capitol building. But this week, the legislative branch left Charleston and went on the road.
The remote three day interim session was hosted by West Virginia University in Morgantown. This is the first remote interim meeting since 2014 in Bridgeport.
Does going remote cost taxpayers more than staying at home?
House of Delegates Communications Director Ann Ali said lawmakers who stay overnight get $131 in daily per diem for hotel and meals. Those who commute get $55 a day per diem no matter where the meetings are held.
So, Ali said taxpayer costs should be about the same as meeting at the capitol.
Clerk of the House Steve Harrison’s rough estimate showed if all 134 lawmakers attended meetings all three days and all sayed overnight, there would be less than $38,000 in legislative costs for the remote interim. However, not all lawmakers attended every meeting or stayed three nights in hotels.
Other costs incurred include audio visual and information technology needs (all meetings were streamed with help from WVU), meeting room fees, House and Senate staff lodgings and mileage. Those bills are still being calculated.
Ali said taking interims back on the road for the first time in eight years stems from a desire among legislative leadership and members to get “up close and personal.” They wanted to see issues facing different areas of the state first hand, to hear directly from local residents and to see some state successes and challenges up close. On this trip, one committee took a field trip to see proposed WVU physical plant repairs, another surveyed the area around a proposed I-79 interchange.
The next remote legislative interim session will be in November at Cacapon State Park in Berkeley Springs.