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House Approves Amended Furlough Bill

Perry Bennet
West Virginia Legislative Photography
House Judiciary Chair John Shott, left, takes questions from Del. Paul Espinosa on the furlough bill.

The House of Delegates has approved a bill to protect state workers should the government shut down in the wake of a budget impasse. 

Delegates voted 82 to 2 Thursday in favor of Gov. Jim Justice’s furlough bill—a bill that would require state workers to take off days without pay. 

The bill, however, was amended to limit the power of the Governor’s Office, only permitting furloughs when the governor vetoes a budget or when the Legislature is unable to approve a spending plan and forces a government shutdown.

Credit Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography
Del. Barbara Evans Fleischauer spoke in favor of the furlough bill Thursday.

The amended bill includes protections for workers as well, allowing them to still accumulate sick and vacation time as well as seniority and protecting their health care benefits.

The bill would also require state agencies to name essential personnel who would continue to work during a government shutdown -- including State troopers, correctional officers, National Guard members and state hospital workers.

Democratic Del. Barbara Evans Fleschauer said in a floor speech Thursday without the furlough bill, state employees would be laid off in the event of a shutdown.

“The thing is, if we don’t reach an agreement by July 1, it’s our fault. It is not the fault of our state employees and they should not be punished in any way,” she said.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael said Thursday his chamber will not take up the furlough bill unless it becomes absolutely necessary. 

"It is an admission that we are not able to get a budget done," he said, "and in the Senate, we are going to get this done."

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